(Question taken from the Indispensable Work-Book on Shakespeare's Macbeth by Usha Nagpal published by National Publishing House. Suitable for class XI. Only Essay type questions answered here. If you have a doubt post a comment below. Leave your mail id if you need a personal response - else i will post my reply to this blog.)
Q.Compare Macbeth and Lady Macbeth after Duncan's murder. Do they change later on? Justify your answers from the play.
Even before the murder, Macbeth was unsure if he was doing the right thing by murdering king Duncan. However, it was lady Macbeth who forced the issue and ensured that Macbeth carried out the murder.
After the murder, Macbeth is distraught. He is afraid the consequences of having committed the murder. However, lady Macbeth is composed and is in command of the situation. She tells Macbeth " Why worthy Thane do you unbend your noble strength". While Macbeth is nervous after committing the murder, lady Macbeth tell Macbeth to put the instrument back at the scene of the crime. When Macbeth is hesitant she herself does this job and smears blood on the guards of Duncan. Macbeth was completely shaken up by his act. He said " every noise terrifies me". He wondered whether he could ever wash the blood stains from his hands. He is repentant after the murder. When Macduff and Lennox knock at the castle gates, he secretly hopes that this loud noise wakes up the dead king Duncan. Macbeth had difficulty in pretending to be unaware of Duncan's murder. However, Lady Macbeth is in complete charge of herself. She even asks Macduff " What's the business, that such a hideous trumpet calls to parley" (why is there so much commotion). She expresses false shock on being told by Macduff of the death of king Duncan. Later, she pretends to faint on hearing about the death of king Duncan.
Macbeth is repentant about the crime,after having committed it. We know this when he says " Wake Duncan with thy knocking". He wishes that Duncan would wake-up to the knocking at the castle gate. However, Lady Macbeth is un-repentant. She says " I am ashamed to wear a heart so white" (I am ashamed that you are so fearful).
So we can say that while Macbeth wishes he had not committed the crime, lady Macbeth was unrepentant.