What is Lady Macduff's role in Macbeth

Lady Macbeth


This article was published inJuly 2020presented as article of the month.

Lady Macbeth

Skills / weapons


Persuade your husband to act

Become queen

Kind of villain

"Look as harmless as the flower, but be the snake underneath!"

- Lady Macbeth to Macbeth

Lady Macbeth is next to her husband Macbeth the central villain of the tragedyMacbethby William Shakespeare.

She is the one who first fully gets her husband to murder the king and ascend the throne himself. However, when she reaches her destination, she suffers from conscience, sleepwalking, and eventually commits suicide.


Act 1

Macbeth is a great military leader and Thane of Glamis under Duncan, King of Scotland. When he returns home from the war, he first sends a letter to his wife. He met three witches who prophesied that he would become Thane of Cawdor and become king. Shortly afterwards he was named Thane of Cawdor.

Lady Macbeth immediately recognizes a possibility for her husband's ascent, but fears that because of his conscience he will not be able to bring himself to carry out the necessary deed. She also hopes to be able to get him to do it.

After a messenger tells her that King Duncan and Macbeth will come to them in the evening, she calls on dark forces to suppress her feelings such as mercy, compassion and conscience.

When her husband arrives, she has practically decided to kill Duncan and advises him to hide these thoughts deep within himself. However, he does not want to discuss the matter until later.

She welcomes Duncan and Banquo, Macbeth's friend, and assures the king of allegiance.

While eating, Macbeth leaves the room and his wife follows him. He wants to give up the plan, she then doubts his manliness and comes up with a plan: If Duncan sleeps, they would make his servants drunk and blame them for the murder. Impressed by her cold-bloodedness, Macbeth finally agrees.

Act 2

That night, Lady Macbeth prepares everything for the murder. She even wants to carry out the murder herself, but because the king looks like her father in his sleep, she cannot do it. After the servants are drunk and she has the daggers ready, she pulls a bell and gives her husband the signal.

She is waiting for him at the foot of the stairs. Finally Macbeth comes to her full of blood and very distraught. She tries in vain to calm him down and wants him to bring the daggers he brought back into the bedroom. However, he refuses and she finally does it herself. She also comes back full of blood and takes him with her so that they can purify themselves.

Macduff, the Thane of Fife, enters and discovers the murder. In the ensuing turmoil, Macbeth kills the two servants. When questioned about it, Lady Macbeth feigns a faint in order to distract from it.

The princes Malcolm and Donalbain decide to flee to England and Ireland, respectively, for their own protection. They are then suspected of inciting the servants to murder. Macbeth and his wife are crowned in Scone, but Macduff stays away from the celebration.

Act 3

The royal couple wants to have a big feast and especially invites Banquo to it.

When she is alone, Lady Macbeth thinks about the fact that achieving the goal will not do you any good if you can not be happy and contented with it. Her husband comes to her, who also thinks that he will never be able to find peace again through his actions. She tries to calm him down about the upcoming meal. He implies an act in relation to Banquo, but wants to protect her from this knowledge.

As the banquet is about to begin, Macbeth has a fit: he thinks he sees Banquo in a place where others only see an empty chair. Lady Macbeth wants to calm him down again and appeals to his manliness, but after it happens a second time she sends the guests off.

After they're alone, Macbeth mentions that Macduff wasn't there. The next morning he wants to go to the witches again and get their advice again.

Act 5

After Macbeth rides out, night after night the servants watch Lady Macbeth sleepwalk. She always has a candle with her, which, according to her orders, should be by her bed. She speaks in short sentences from previous situations and tries desperately to wash the blood from her hands. It becomes clear that she suffers badly from Duncan's murder and the obliteration of Macduff's family as Macbeth ordered. A doctor also mentions that she suffers from severe nightmares.

Macbeth knows about his wife's suffering, but does not take care of them himself. He orders the doctor to cure her, but the doctor says that she can only help herself.

Macbeth later learns of her death, but he can no longer feel anything about it.

Malcolm mentions that it is said that she took her own life.