Notorious for being one of the most vicious, terrifying and manipulative women William Shakespeare has ever written — because he was such an expert on women — the wife of Macbeth’s namesake character is usually seen as a demonic, bitchy murderess and nothing more.
And while she may have actively participated in premeditated murder, orchestrated a bloodthirsty plot to commit unjustified regicide and proclaimed she would have “dashed [her own child’s] brains out,” if Macbeth asked her to, I would just like to say, very liberally, that she did nothing wrong.
At the time Macbeth was written, a noblewoman’s world revolved around her husband. They were walking baby- making objects, socially and institutionally taught to dedicate all that they had to their husband’s desires and ambitions.
In exchange — if we can even call this inherently sexist dynamic anything reminiscent of an exchange based on mutual benefit — his victories, successes and happiness were trickled down and given to her.
Any semblance of power a woman could experience had to be acquired from her lord and master. If your man was the king, you weren’t the sovereign — but you were better than the average dude and definitely better than said average dude’s wife.
With this argument, it seems like Lady Macbeth did all the horrible things in the play out of a selfish ambition to become Queen of Scotland.
Nah, girl. I have to disagree. She is very manipulative of Macbeth, and she is the mastermind and final overseer of their plot to kill King Duncan. But in a really, really messed up way, she’s just very ride or die. #WifeGoals, if you will.
She knows that Macbeth is “too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” — meaning he’s too much of a pathetic pansy — to be a powerful leader. So she becomes the powerful leader herself, but at a price.
Her iconic soliloquy demanding “[c]ome, you spirits / That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe topfull / of direst cruelty” is, honestly, very self-sacrificing, and it’s why I don’t think her main reason for all the murdery stuff is just wanting to be queen.
What good is the Scottish crown if you literally send your soul to hell, spiritually effeminate yourself and ask demons to take over your body to the point where nothing of who you used to be is left behind?
Homegirl Macbeth was willing to suffer all of eternity in burning damnation for her man. When she tells Macbeth “[l]eave all the rest to me” once he starts stressing out about murdering the king? Romantic. Iconic.
Get you a girl who eases your anxiety over committing regicide and relinquishes all moral salvation just because some three witches told you they’d think it’d be cool if you did.
And it was pretty cool! Until, like, paralyzing guilt started seeping in and all of Scotland was submerged in a state of violent chaos that led to a lot of unnecessary deaths and carnage. Be that as it may, Lady Macbeth was just trying to be a good wife. She did nothing wrong. We stan.