It is clear that people react different to stressful situations, some rise to meet the occasion and others crumble under the pressure of the moment. Shakespeare depicts this differentiation quite well through his characters – Macbeth and Lady Macbeth – in his play Macbeth. Some would say that Macbeth begins the play strong and finishes strong but loses parts of himself somewhere in the middle. One could also say that Lady Macbeth started out with all the power and control and she too lost herself but, unlike Macbeth, she never regained her senses and in the end took the weakest way out. .
Macbeth began the journey with a solid reputation but he is weak compared to his wife and quickly begins to waver. After defeating Macdonwald and the traitorous Thane of Cawdor in Act 1, scene 2 Ross says, ". . . Till that Bellona's bridegroom, lapped in proof, confronted him with self-comparisons, point against point, rebellious arm 'gainst arm, curbing his lavish spirit. . ." (Lines 61-64).In this Ross is speaking highly of the deeds performed by Macbeth and is praising his strength and bravery. Back in Inverness Lady Macbeth has gotten word from her husband on the prophecies of the weïrd women and the news lights a fire of cruel desires inside her. The Lady shows her darkest side when she says: "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe tope-full of direst cruelty!" (Act 1 scene 5, Lines 42-45). Shakespeare makes it known that Lady Macbeth is strong in the most horrific of ways with her strong desires for power. Again she asserts her control, but this time over husband when she says, "Art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting 'I dare not' wait upon ' I would,' like the poor cat I' th' adage?" (Act 1 scene 7, lines 42-48).