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In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth the two protagonists, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth demonstrate both strength and weakness of character and action. Through the course of the play Lady Macbeth’s early power and strength weakens while Macbeth’s rises from weakness to a position of strength and great power. In the beginning Lady Macbeth is stronger, however towards the end Macbeth becomes the stronger one. The short tragedy of Macbeth is a morbid story of ruthlessness, power, and murder. Shakespeare’s shortest play, Macbeth shows the effects murder can have on a person’s soul.

Early in the play, Shakespeare develops the strengths of Lady Macbeth as contrasted with the weaknesses of her husband. For example Lady Macbeth persuades her husband to kill King Duncan to give Macbeth air to the throne, she organizes the murder and frames the guards. Without her persuasion and planning Macbeth wouldn’t have committed the murder. This quote by Lady Macbeth shows her ruthlessness: “My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white… a little water clears us of this deed. How easy it is then! Your constancy hath left you unattended.” She is able to cleanse herself of the blood without being affected, however Macbeth is not, she calls him cowardly. He is so troubled by his guilt that he cannot sleep. He shows this in the quote “Me thought I heard a voice cry sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep—the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath…” Lady Macbeth is able to manipulate King Duncan’s murder with no remorse, she is stronger than her husband, Macbeth who struggles with the guilt he feels for the murder.

Midway through the play we find that Lady Macbeth is beginning to lose her power and strength while Macbeth, now the king is at the same time finding his. For example Macbeth quotes: “They are vulnerable then be cheerful. Before the bat has finished it’s blind flight, before black which with it’s droning proclaims night’s sleepy presence, there will be committed and awful and infamous crime.” He is referring to his plans to kill Banquo and his son Fleance in the dead of night. Lady Macbeth was unaware of this; Macbeth is now arranging murder by himself without the motives of Lady Macbeth. After Macduff fled to England Macbeth had his family killed in his absence. Macbeth was angered with him for not attending his banquet and fleeing to England. Macbeth has become so ruthless that he killed Macduff’s innocent wife and children, lives of the innocent were taken to torment the soul of Macduff. Macbeth has now overcome his kind soul’s guilt over King Duncan to go on and cold-heartedly commit two more cases of murder.

By the end of the play, Shakespeare shows us a king who is using all of his strength and power to save his position, while showing how the Lady Macbeth has lost all of her strength and has been reduced to a weak, suicidal, nervous wreck. Lady Macbeth expresses her guilt in her sleep, this quote portrays her feelings-“All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.” Earlier in the play when she was strong she had been able to wash the blood off with water, now she feels she’ll never rid herself of the burden. The doctor is called to go see Lady Macbeth for her sleep talking. The doctor quotes “This sickness is beyond my medical skill, however I’ve known sleep walkers who’ve died piously in their beds.” Lady Macbeth’s problem is in her head; she needs the calamity removed from her soul. The witch’s prophecies begin to come true, as they predicted; the woods are going to march (the army). Macbeth decides to fight Macduff, Macbeth’s ‘charmed life’ is broken however he still fights Macduff because he’d rather die fighting for his position than be captured by the army. Macbeth is now using all his strength to keep his position as king while things are going down around him, his wife commits suicide and the army’s coming after him so he fights Macduff to go down with glory.

As we have seen Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have demonstrated both strength and