Plot Summary / The Story-line
In Act I, Scene V of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth reads a letter from her husband in which he tells her about the witches’ prophecies and his recent promotion to Thane of Cawdor. She is pleased by the news but is concerned that her husband may be “too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness / to catch the nearest way” to seize the crown. She decides to take matters into her own hands and encourage him to murder King Duncan in order to fulfil the witches’ prophecy.
When a messenger arrives to inform Lady Macbeth that Duncan will be staying at their castle that night, she sees an opportunity to carry out their plan. She invokes the spirits to “unsex” (defeminize) her and fill her with the “direst cruelty” so that she can persuade Macbeth to commit regicide.
When Macbeth arrives, Lady Macbeth convinces him to follow through with the murder by questioning his masculinity and his commitment to their shared goal. Macbeth ultimately agrees, and the scene ends with the two of them plotting the murder of Duncan.
Commentary on Act I, Scene v
Act I scene V of “Macbeth” is a turning point in the play, as it marks the beginning of Macbeth’s descent into darkness and the start of Lady Macbeth’s manipulations. The scene sheds light upon a number of things like the sincere relationship between Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth’s opinion about her husband and also the character traits of Lady Macbeth.
We see Lady Macbeth as a complex and compelling character and get to know the depth of her ambition and desire. She is ready to use any means to achieve her goals. She appears to be a desperate and determined woman. On the other hand, Macbeth is shown as a man with a comparatively soft heart who is being encouraged by his wife for the murder of the King.
Shakespeare has effectively used the soliloquies in this scene to depict the character of Lady Macbeth. The use of supernatural language and dark imagery in her invocation of the spirits creates a sense of foreboding and sets the stage for the violence and bloodshed to come.