Who is Lady Macbeth? During the play her character status and role is completely reversed, from being an evil and power thirsty witch like character, to an insane and conscience character. Lady Macbeth intrigues us because her character is somewhat how women can act in today’s society but in Elizabethan times this would be a completely new view on how woman could behave. This is why I’m going to be looking over her character in full detail and as a director choose how I would like to convey Lady Macbeth to a 20th century audience. The first time we lay eyes on Lady Macbeth she is reading the letter Macbeth had sent to her.
This scene is made just to show what Lady Macbeth’s reaction is, and what kind of person she is when alone, the first impression of her. The letter is used as a draught device to do this. While reading the letter I want her to start to smile and grin more as she reads on with each line getting happier. Especially at the “Hail, king that shalt be”. To stage this scene I would place it in a red room where she would be sitting down on a stool in an upright manner. I do this because in her speech we find her agreeing with the witches, “shalt be What thou art promis’d”, this is showing that without a doubt she believes the witches.
In Shakespearean times this would mean she is in league with evil spirits, this would have shocked the audience as much as intrigued them. Elizabethans were very religious and God fearing. We see this when Elizabeth the first condemns witches and when James the first passed further laws against witchcraft. To ally with witches would be giving yourself to eternal damnation which would seem outrageous to Elizabethans. But on the other hand now a day’s audience would assume that she believes in things that are not real, i. e. the witches. The common ground would be that they both believed she was insane.
For this reason I place her in a dark colored room because it represents evil. All though I specifically chose red because the story is about death and this is to emphasize the blood that is going to be shed. Lady Macbeth already implies that she is going to do so with, “Thus thou must do, if thou have it. ” As we can see that Lady Macbeth believes that there is no chance that they must kill Duncan if they are to be king and queen. She is using an imperative voice, and I would like the actress to definitely emphasize this word so the audience can clearly see how her mind is working.
I want her to be in an upright manner to also show how much to be king and queen is to her how she wants to be perfect and royalty. To always look her best. This leads me on to how I want Lady Macbeth to look like. It is important to know that even though Lady Macbeth does not want feminine qualities, “unsex me here”, she wants to be removed from female weakness that is emotions but even with this she contradicts herself for she uses her sexuality to smooch and to persuade Macbeth, for she says “Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor, Greater than both by the all-hail hereafter,”.
This is showing how Lady Macbeth gets Macbeth around her finger to do what ever she wants him to do just by complimenting him. For this contradicting reason I want Lady Macbeth to be very attractive, perhaps a redhead to show her desire and her temper at the same time. With this though I would want her dressed in formal black clothes but I would also want them to be revealing maybe only one button of a suit jacket done and a short skirt. Also I want her to wear glasses. This combination shows her power thirsty, working status but her sexuality as well to make it so that she climbs up in power by controlling men.
The letter is important because it shows us something of the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth: he has no secrets from her, and she is his ‘dearest partner of greatness’. She knows her husband well, which means she understands that he is ambitious but he is also honorable which is why when they come together in that scene I want her to be seducing Macbeth perhaps running her hands over his shoulders and being strong and controlling while speaking “Your face my thane, is as a book where men May read… “.
Although her character must show evil, I would want her to speak in a quick pace as her mind goes over her plans to kill Duncan and when she talks of getting rid of nurturing ways such as “too full o’th’milk of human kindness” I want her to speak in detest for she hates everything that is caring and emotional. This line is very important because the motherhood aspect of nurturing is used a lot by Lady Macbeth. She detests caring for another, she uses the word milk because that is how we nurture are young. This line is very strong and I want the word milk to be emphasized.
This of course would be the opposite of the way I want her to talk when she is around others. I want her to completely change her voice to make it sound seducing and smooth, to show how she deceives those around her. Even the way Lady Macbeth speaks is of great control, for she talks in blank verse, iambic pentameter. Shakespeare did this purposely to show her high status and her control over what she says. As we can see Lady Macbeth completely throws herself to dark ways, but this in turn shows us that she does have caring and emotional ways.
When she says she wants to make her blood thick, (this is said to show she doesn’t want blood to her heart, the centre of emotions), or she wants spirits to make her milk to gall (to get rid of a nurturing aspect, to care for her children) shows that she does in fact have thin blood (not literally but in the sense that her blood does flow through to her heart and makes her have emotions) or that she does have nurturing aspects of her. She does in fact have a conscious, that she is not completely evil.