“Yet do I fear thy nature, It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.” Act I, scene v.
Spoken by Lady Macbeth as she reads a letter from her husband explaining the prophecy of the witches. She fears he is too influenced by human kindness to simply take the easy route to the throne by killing the king. Here she also demonstrates the theme of female influence over masculine right.
“The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood,
Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers” Act 1, scene v.
Spoken by Lady Macbeth, we see two of the important themes in the play. Her wish to “unsex
me here” and “take my milk for gall” are clearly images of her desire to act and even be a man as Macbeth wavers in his course to take the throne by murder. Her ambition outstrips her natural state of being a woman. The clear themes of ambition are everywhere apparent in these lines.
“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly. If th’assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success: that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all, here,
But here upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgement here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions which, being taught, return
To plague th’inventor.” Act I, scene vii.
Macbeth deliberates on the murder of the king. We see his doubts about this course of action. Where he states that “we still have judgement here” shows his fear of doing something he cannot undo. Once the act is done, he cannot turn back. He also wonders about “consequences” and fears the outcome of his deeds as when the “Bloody instructions” come back to “plague th’inventor.”
“Whence is that knocking?—
How is’t with me, when every noise appals me?
What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.” Act II, scene ii.
Macbeth demonstrates his guilty conscience as every knock and sound seem to terrify him. Every “noise appals me” because everything around him reminds him of his tremendous guilt. Again, Macbeth is tortured by his conscience. What is more, he can never wash himself clean of his crimes. Even wash his bloody hands in the ocean would turn the sea to blood.
“Out, damned spot; out, I say. One, two,—why, then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows it when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?” Act V, scene i.
Spoken by Lady Macbeth, these lines and the blood imagery are the perfect complement to Macbeth’s lines on guilt and blood. Whereas early in the play she is full of resolve and ambition, here she is stricken with guilt and cannot remove the “damned spot” of blood which signifies her guilt. Like Macbeth, she is tortured by what she has done and is amazed by her own deeds. This leads her to madness.