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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Lady Macbeth's Death
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0265  Tuesday, 8 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Jan Stirm <
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        Date:   Monday, 07 Feb 2000 09:27:58 -0600
        Subj:   Lady Macbeth's Death

[2]     From:   Chyrel Remmers <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Feb 2000 11:22:43 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0250 Re: Lady Macbeth's Death

[3]     From:   Nora Kreimer <
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        Date:   Monday, 7 Feb 2000 15:22:54 -0300
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.0250 Re: Lady Macbeth's Death


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Stirm <
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Date:           Monday, 07 Feb 2000 09:27:58 -0600
Subject:        Lady Macbeth's Death

Hi SHAKSPERians,

One of the things I LOVE about Malcolm's speech is that it's a great
example of the use of passive voice to avoid assigning agency.  It
really shows students how "government speak" works.  He says, "'Tis
thought" and not "Joe saw and said," or something.  I think that's vital
in a play with so much reported information that's hard to interpret
(I'm thinking, for example, of 1.2, where Duncan gets those wonderful
descriptions of the battle in which, at times, you can't tell who's arm
is against whose arm, and so forth.)

In contrast, Seyton merely tells Macbeth that she's dead, and doesn't
say anything about how she died.

In some ways, the main point is that information's still being reported
to us, and we still don't know how to read it.

It may be important that Lady Macbeth, if she did kill herself, may have
been "insane" or "mad," and so may not be morally responsible (in a
Christian sense, where suicide is a mortal sin) for her action(s).

Best, Jan Stirm
Assistant Professor, English Department
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chyrel Remmers <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2000 11:22:43 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 11.0250 Re: Lady Macbeth's Death
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0250 Re: Lady Macbeth's Death

I use this as a writing response for my 12th grade honors class: how did
Lady Macbeth die?

Invariably some students believe that Macbeth had Lady Macbeth
killed-she knows too much, she's crazy and he thinks she'll blab to
someone else (besides the lady-in-waiting and the doctor!).   They also
cite the change in Macbeth himself-killing his friend, killing women and
children, they believe the next logical step is killing his wife-further
proof of his degradation.  They illustrate the change from "My dearest
partner of greatness" to "She should have died hereafter!"

I prefer to think that Lady Macbeth killed herself; Act V's sleepwalking
scene illustrates the great guilt that she has for her part in the
murders.

I like the writing assignment-it requires that students find lines that
illustrate their position.  I do always give the assignment before they
read that Malcolm says Lady Macbeth took her own life.  Once they read
Malcolm's line, it seems that they don't consider deeply.

Chyrel Remmers, English Instructor
Madison High School
Madison, NE

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nora Kreimer <
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Date:           Monday, 7 Feb 2000 15:22:54 -0300
Subject: 11.0250 Re: Lady Macbeth's Death
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.0250 Re: Lady Macbeth's Death

Needless though it may look, the only references to Lady Macbeth's death
in the text appear below. The reference to her suicide comes from
Malcolm, whose linguistic manipulation to serve his political ends is
notorious.  Macbeth does not inquire into the nature of her death, as if
he felt it had, indeed, been suicide, given the sleep-walking
disturbances of her mind and his express concern for her health. The
word "madness" in reference to Lady Macbeth and her "alleged" suicide
seem to me to be rather taken for granted, and this is the reason why I
have invited some shared considerations.

Thank you for your interest and, hopefully, for your comments.

 [A cry of women within.
     What is that noise?
     Sey. It is the cry of women, my good lord.
     [Exit.
     Macb. I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
     The time has been my senses would have cool'd
     To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
     Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
     As life were in't. I have supp'd full with horrors;
     Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,
     Cannot once start me.
Re-enter Seyton.
     Wherefore was that cry?

 Sey. The queen, my lord, is dead.

     Mal. We shall not spend a large expense of time
     Before we reckon with your several loves,
     And make us even with you. My thanes and kinsmen,
     Henceforth be earls, the first that ever Scotland
     In such an honour named. What's more to do
     Which would be planted newly with the time,
     As calling home our exiled friends abroad
     That fled the mares of watchful tyranny;
     Producing forth the cruel ministers
     Of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen,
     Who, as 't is thought, by self and violent hands
     Took off her life;
_Great Literature Plus for Windows_
Copyright (c) 1994, BEP, Inc. "The Bureau"
     Sey. The queen, my lord, is dead.
Regards
Nyke
Nora Kreimer

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