William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy Macbeth is also perhaps one of his most violent; although the plots of these tragedies often revolve around a murder, there are three murders in particular that stick out to compare and contrast with regards to justification and honor–Lady Macbeth’s orchestration of the murder of Duncan and the following murders of the chamberlains by Macbeth himself would be by Shakespearean standards dishonorable, however, the suicide of Lady Macbeth herself can be seen as an honorable murder.
After Lady Macbeth learns that her husband is prophesized to become the next King, she herself becomes overwhelmed with greed. She is perhaps the most devious character in the entire play, whose actions are the direct result in much of the conflict. She uses her control over her husband to convince him to kill Duncan in his sleep, and thus taking the Kingship. Though Macbeth himself killed Duncan, this dishonorable betrayal can be attributed to his calculating wife just as much as Macbeth himself.
When Macbeth is almost caught murdering Duncan in his sleep (for the times considered a cowardly act itself) he promptly also murdered two chamberlains to cover for himself. He called the chamberlains the murderers, and thus further used his violent nature to further his own station. While the murder of Duncan can be considered a product of Lady Macbeth’s apparent manipulation, this scene itself illustrates that Macbeth himself is just as dishonorable–murdering to cover for a lie.
Though apparently done in her sleep, or certainly an issue up for debate, the suicide of Lady Macbeth is perhaps the most honorable murder in the entire play. After orchestrating an entire plot for the purpose of power and nothing more, and at this point with countless bodies on her hand, she decides to take her own life. Apparently going mad attempting to remove invisible bloodstains from her hands, the audience learns of her suicide the same time Macbeth does. The symbol of the invisible blood shows her guilt, and thus her inability to deal with it.
Lady Macbeth was Shakespeare’s most devious and notorious female characters that orchestrated murders that moved along the plot, as well as outlining the difference between “honorable” and “dishonorable”.