Question: What effect does Lady Macbeth's death have upon Macbeth, and upon our feelings toward him?
Answer: One commentator sees in Macbeth's language at the
"The queen, my lord, is dead,"
the perfect indifference of a heartless criminal to the fate of
the wife who had been so faithful to him. Another thinks Lady Macbeth's death touches him in the
only remaining vulnerable point, and calls forth some "deeply
serious, solemn, elegiac strains." To us there is spoken a
different story still. In these words is embodied a degree of
combined bitterness and contempt which could only be
wrung from a strong heart driven to the last extreme of desperation.
The bitterness is that of a hopeless anguish which the victim feels has been drawn down by his own hand. To
the natural grief for the loss of the wife whom he really loved,
there is added, most probably, the stinging consciousness of
his own selfish forgetfulness of her in the season when she
needed him most sorely. The contempt is that of a man
who has "supped full with horrors," and whom "the faint
odour of blood has disgusted with all else." We behold in
silence the unmistakable evidence of the inevitable but hidden
workings by which justice will be satisfied. Our indignation
is appeased. We now feel sincerest pity for the deep misery
which we know rends the heart of a fellow being.
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/mseven.html >.