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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsFor Lady Macbeth, it's quite clear what Macbeth needs to do. For the witch's predictions to come true, he needs to basically get rid of King Duncan. Otherwise, how else is he going to become king? And so for her, it's really important that Macbeth actively does something. But she realises that he's too weak. She is the strong one in this relationship. Certainly at the beginning of the play, she is the one powering the change in him. She's manipulating him. She wants him to become the King. So she persuades him to do these things. And she uses her sexuality. She also questions his manhood.

Skip to 1 minute and 7 secondsSo she kind of propels him with this manipulation and putting him down slightly, that he's not man enough. And so he can then go on and get what she wants for herself as well, which is she wants to be top dog, too.

How does Lady Macbeth get what she wants?

Listen to Shaheen Khan, who has played Lady Macbeth on stage, talk about how Lady Macbeth gets what she wants.

Lady Macbeth is one of the most powerful female characters in literature. Although her husband becomes king, she’s really the one who has the power and drives the story forward. As Shaheen says, she uses her skills to manipulate Macbeth into doing what she wants him to do.

The ‘Lady Macbeth’ figure - a powerful, scheming woman who manipulates her husband or lover - has become common in literature and film.

  • Can you think of any other female characters from books, film or TV who are similar to Lady Macbeth?

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council