Comparative Analysis of The Characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
  3. Conclusion
  4. References


Introduction: William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the 'Bard of Avon' (or simply 'the Bard'). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

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Macbeth, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606. It dramatizes the damaging physical and psychological effects of political ambition on those who seek power. Of all the plays that Shakespeare wrote during the reign of James I, Macbeth most clearly reflects his relationship with King James, patron of Shakespeare's acting company.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

Background: The story of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is wholly about human nature and tendencies one faces when faced with the opportunity to gain power. While taking the same path, the two characters in The Tragedy of Macbeth face different endings altogether. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s similarities are striking and their differences even more so. Thesis statement: The play depicts just some of the possible changes a person may go through in the chase of a horrible ambition that is highly likely to change their lives for good. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are ambitious by nature. As a general, Macbeth is successful in the battlefield. At the start of the play, he won battles for King Duncan and was named thane of Cawdor. Macbeth’s ambition to become king was provoked by the three witches’ prophecy that he himself will someday become king. With this goal in mind, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are united to the point where their thoughts are similar to each other even in silence. Lady Macbeth, herself, is driven by her desire to be named queen. Together, they conspire to achieve the goal of becoming royal by murdering King Duncan.

Topic sentence: While both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are ambitious, they are both constrained by a factor that is beyond their control. On one hand, for Macbeth, his ambition is being restrained by his conscientiousness and self-doubt. Evidence & citing: Prior to his murder of King Duncan, Macbeth hesitated numerous times. Macbeth, even though he has already experienced battle, is a kindhearted person, and for which his own wife persecutes him for being so. Commentary: Because of kindness, his ambition is being compromised.

On the other hand, for Lady Macbeth, her ambitiousness is held back by her femininity. Evidence & citing: As a woman, she is constrained by social customs from pursuing her ambitions for society believes that a woman is to be feminine and soft. Therefore, is unable to commit such brutal acts. She herself believes that she alone cannot make her plan to ascend to royalty to fruition; she believes that she needs her husband’s manly strength to complete the mission. Commentary: As a result, she has to rely on her husband to materialize her plans and actions. Even if both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth possess great ambition to become king and queen, their supposed flaws are enough to hold them back from finishing their plan alone.

Topic sentence: Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are deeply invested in each other. They are indeed true partners who are truly in love with the other. Even if Lady Macbeth sometimes points out her husband’s fears that seem cowardly, Macbeth still addresses his wife with love and adoration. Commentary: Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are invested in each other and it is shown in the way they executed the plan to take the throne. However, they both faced grave consequences due to their actions as both have lost their love and their life.

Topic sentence: Throughout the play, it was established that Lady Macbeth has an iron will, and this is what made it possible for them to become royalty. Evidence & citing: She is very dedicated on crafting her plan and achieving it in order to make her husband and herself royalty as quick as possible even on the consequence of having her husband kill the current king to be able to take the throne. Commentary: However, by the close of the play, it becomes evident that Lady Macbeth is just as susceptible to guilt as her husband. Lady Macbeth slips into madness—she sleepwalks through the castle and attempts to wash away the invisible bloodstain on her hands. In the end, she is unable to cope with the guilt and kills herself.

Like his wife, Macbeth is also plagued with guilt. He sees ghosts of the people he killed and fluctuates between moments of depression and fits of fevered action. Following the plan concocted by his wife, he kills people that are obstructing their way from fulfilling the three witches’ prophecy. At the end, when English armies stormed his castle, Macbeth happily fights them to his death. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were driven to madness and eventually to their deaths by the intense guilt they feel because of killing Duncan and others.

Topic sentence: The main difference between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is rooted in their genders. Evidence & citing: Macbeth, being male, is powerful in the exterior. He is a general who has been successful in the battlefield, but he lacks strength of character. Macbeth truly wants the throne, but he worries about and hesitates murdering King Duncan. He is not ruthless enough to do what it takes to get what he truly desires. However, he is also not strong enough to oppose his wife when she pushes him to commit the murder. So, when she questions his masculinity for being cowardly, he yields and commits the murder against his will.

Topic sentence: In contrast to this, Lady Macbeth, who believes she is constrained by her femininity, understands that her true power lies in her will. Evidence & citing: She relies on traditionally “feminine” ways of achieving power — through manipulation. Her strength lies inside, in her iron will. So, when Macbeth hesitates to commit the necessary murder, she utilizes her will to overpower his. Because Lady Macbeth does not have power in society, she relies on her own inner strengths to achieve her ambitions. Commentary: Lady Macbeth’s resolve is much stronger than Macbeth’s because this is her only source of power. In contrast to this, Macbeth has experienced power being attributed to him so he does not have inner strength to support him.


Conclusion paragraph: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth share an ambitious nature, however they are polar opposites in terms of character, courage, and resolve as demonstrated by the character analysis above. The differences are rooted in their genders — Macbeth being male and Lady Macbeth being female. Due to these differences, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are also foil characters of each other, the contrast of which highlights the differences between the genders during the time, which is way before the rise of feminism and the Time’s Up Movement.

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While Macbeth is powerful as a male, he lacks the willpower to pursue his ambitions or make a decision not to do something. Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth has strong willpower to compensate for her lack of power as a female in society. These two characters’ similarities and differences make for a strong commentary on the tension between gender and power and the extent one is willing to go through for the sake of obtaining power.


  1. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Ed. E. K. Chambers. Toronto: Morang Educational Co., 1907. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2013. < >.
  2. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy Of Macbeth. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

Introduction close-button

Should follow an “upside down” triangle format, meaning, the writer should start off broad and introduce the text and author or topic being discussed, and then get more specific to the thesis statement.

Background close-button

Provides a foundational overview, outlining the historical context and introducing key information that will be further explored in the essay, setting the stage for the argument to follow.

Thesis statement close-button

Cornerstone of the essay, presenting the central argument that will be elaborated upon and supported with evidence and analysis throughout the rest of the paper.

Topic sentence close-button

The topic sentence serves as the main point or focus of a paragraph in an essay, summarizing the key idea that will be discussed in that paragraph.

Evidence & citing close-button

The body of each paragraph builds an argument in support of the topic sentence, citing information from sources as evidence.


After each piece of evidence is provided, the author should explain HOW and WHY the evidence supports the claim.

Conclusion paragraph close-button

Should follow a right side up triangle format, meaning, specifics should be mentioned first such as restating the thesis, and then get more broad about the topic at hand. Lastly, leave the reader with something to think about and ponder once they are done reading.

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A Narrative of Macbeth by William Shakespeare. (2023, January 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from
“A Narrative of Macbeth by William Shakespeare.” GradesFixer, 08 Jan. 2023,
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