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Examination Questions on Macbeth

Question: What effect does Lady Macbeth's death have upon Macbeth, and upon our feelings toward him?

Answer: One commentator sees in Macbeth's language at the announcement,
"The queen, my lord, is dead,"
the perfect indifference of a heartless criminal to the fate of the wife who had been so faithful to him. Another thinks Lady Macbeth's death touches him in the only remaining vulnerable point, and calls forth some "deeply serious, solemn, elegiac strains." To us there is spoken a different story still. In these words is embodied a degree of combined bitterness and contempt which could only be wrung from a strong heart driven to the last extreme of desperation.

The bitterness is that of a hopeless anguish which the victim feels has been drawn down by his own hand. To the natural grief for the loss of the wife whom he really loved, there is added, most probably, the stinging consciousness of his own selfish forgetfulness of her in the season when she needed him most sorely. The contempt is that of a man who has "supped full with horrors," and whom "the faint odour of blood has disgusted with all else." We behold in silence the unmistakable evidence of the inevitable but hidden workings by which justice will be satisfied. Our indignation is appeased. We now feel sincerest pity for the deep misery which we know rends the heart of a fellow being.

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How to cite this article:
Bowman, N. B. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


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