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The model king, then, offers the kingdom an embodiment of order and justice, but also comfort and affection.Under him, subjects are rewarded according to their merits, as when Duncan makes Macbeth thane of Cawdor after Macbeth’s victory over the invaders.Malcolm’s comment shows that he has learned the lesson Macduff gave him on the sentient nature of true masculinity.
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One of Shakespeare’s most forcefully drawn female characters, she spurs her husband mercilessly to kill Duncan and urges him to be strong in the murder’s aftermath, but she is eventually driven to distraction by the effect of Macbeth’s repeated bloodshed on her conscience.
In each case, ambition—helped, of course, by the malign prophecies of the witches—is what drives the couple to ever more terrible atrocities.
While the male characters are just as violent and prone to evil as the women, the aggression of the female characters is more striking because it goes against prevailing expectations of how women ought to behave.
Lady Macbeth’s behavior certainly shows that women can be as ambitious and cruel as men. Content Header .feed_item_answer_user .anon_user.logged_out . The main theme of Macbeth—the destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints—finds its most powerful expression in the play’s two main characters.The problem, the play suggests, is that once one decides to use violence to further one’s quest for power, it is difficult to stop.There are always potential threats to the throne—Banquo, Fleance, Macduff—and it is always tempting to use violent means to dispose of them.In the scene where Macduff learns of the murders of his wife and child, Malcolm consoles him by encouraging him to take the news in “manly” fashion, by seeking revenge upon Macbeth.Macduff shows the young heir apparent that he has a mistaken understanding of masculinity.In the same manner that Lady Macbeth goads her husband on to murder, Macbeth provokes the murderers he hires to kill Banquo by questioning their manhood.Such acts show that both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth equate masculinity with naked aggression, and whenever they converse about manhood, violence soon follows.Toward the end of the play he descends into a kind of frantic, boastful madness.Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, pursues her goals with greater determination, yet she is less capable of withstanding the repercussions of her immoral acts.