One can get caught up in the rhyming witches, plotting, and murders, but Shakespeare’s Macbeth is also an intriguing view into a marriage based on mutual ambition. Macbeth’s ambitions of gaining the King’s admiration and new titles from his successes on the battlefield join with Lady Macbeth’s ambition for power and position. Macbeth is presented with the possibility of becoming king, but would not have committed regicide without Lady Macbeth’s influence.
Lady Macbeth’s influence can be seen in Macbeth’s act of writing a letter home to her. In the letter from the battlefield home to his wife about an encounter with three witches, Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth,
These Weird sisters saluted me and referred me to the coming on of time with “Hail, king thou shalt be.” This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou might’st not lose the dues of rejoicing by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee.
One can observe this and assume Macbeth shares all with his wife and relies on her for help in framing the situation and deciding how to act upon it. A wife’s duty at the time was to give “wise counsaile, and sage aduice, with all humilitie, and submission, seeke to perswade him” (Frye 103). Lady Macbeth reads the letter and immediately begins to plot against King Duncan, even before her husband arrives home, soliloquising,
The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Shakespeare speaks to the pervasive thinking of the time that “While Lady Macbeth ‘unsexed’ herself, Macbeth profaned his sex by submission to her”(Frye 104). Macbeth’s submission to his wife comes only after much persuasion.
Lady Macbeth greets her husband’s arrival home ...