Question: How do you explain the difference in Lady Macbeth's manner towards Macbeth after the Banquo ghost scene (III.iv), as compared with her bearing after the murder of Duncan (II.ii)?
Answer: An explanation of the difference of her manner on the two occasions may be found in the following considerations: Just after the murder of Duncan there was no time for the employment of gentler means; no time to seek the sleep which she entreats in the second instance. The nobles
were even then at the gate; her husband must be recovered,
and that both effectually and without delay, lest, in his
frenzy, he divulge the whole terrible secret, and thus bring
ruin upon them both (as was threatened again during the
banquet scene which may account for the contrast between
her manner during that scene and after the scene is over).
Lady Macbeth realizes this, and has both the clear-sightedness to know what to do, and, in her excitement, the strength
to do it. Let us note too that she is under the influence of
In the second case, the guests are gone, all the harm done that can be done, hence no such need for peremptory
measures as on the previous occasion. It is permitted that her conduct be in accordance with her womanly feelings,
and so we find it. Besides tenderest sympathy for him, there is a depth of pathos in her very words -- a weariness in her voice and manner, which point possibly to another explanation to be found in the sad change -- the gradually deepening melancholy fallen upon her own spirit since that former occasion.
How to cite this article:
Bowman, N. B. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/macbeth/examq/mfour.html >.