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Let’s Explore: Lady Macbeth

Play Index & Help

Act 1 Scene 5 (Lady Macbeth‘s first scene):

The first scene in which a character appears, is often revealing about that character. It’s helpful for the actor and it’s helpful for the audience, if they both find out about the character when they are first introduced to them (or when they first start learning their lines, if they are the actor). In Act 1 Scene 5 of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth‘s first scene, she has two speeches which reveal much about Macbeth (or Lady Macbeth‘s view of Macbeth) and herself.

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The first speech starts with her reading a letter she’s received from Macbeth, telling her about what happened when he met the witches, but also revealing quite a bit of the ‘back story’ – what has happened between the couple before the play even started. After the letter she goes on to reveal her feelings about Macbeth.

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The couple then meet, and after Macbeth leaves, Lady Macbeth has a second speech, where she reveals a lot of  her character.

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Follow the link below, to see the scene in Parts and Cues format and read both the speeches. The first starts the scene. The second speech starts ‘The Raven himself is hoarse…’

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A soliloquy can tell you a lot about the character that speaks the soliloquy, but als about the character who is being spoken about. What do you think the speeches reveal about Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth?

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Act 5 Scene 1 (The sleep-walking scene):

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a soliloquy – Lady Macbeth‘s speech is interrupted by lines from the Doctor and the Gentlewoman. These interruptions add to the drama of the scene, but reading Lady Macbeth‘s speeches in this scene in one continuous monologue, in Parts and Cues mode, gives the player a very good idea of her mental state. See if you agree, by reading Lady M’s speeches in this scene in Parts and Cues mode by clicking on the following link:

These are the only two soliloquies Lady Macbeth has in the play, but you can enrich your understanding of her character by reading some of the scenes where she plays, either with Macbeth, or with a wider cast. In particular, you’ll find in Let’s Play:

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as well as other scenes you can find for yourself.

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Let’s play!

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Richard Forsyth
‘The Director’
Players-Shakespeare.com

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Play Index & Help

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