One of Shakespeare's prominent female characters appears in "Macbeth," by the name of Lady Macbeth. She is presented as a strong-willed ambitious power craving woman, more so than her husband. She is the one who goads her husband into committing murder by questioning his masculinity. Overall, she is a skilled manipulator who preys on her husband's faults to carry out the "dreadful deed" that sparks both of their gradual descents into insanity and despair. Initially, she is presented as a dark, dire woman begging to be filled with spirits of "direst cruelty." As the play progressives, we see her interact with the good but naive King Duncan. She puts on her face of the "innocent flower" and preys upon Duncan's naivete as the serpent. Once Duncan is murdered and done with, Macbeth seems to take a turn for the worse at his coronation banquet. Lady Macbeth immediately tries to cover for Macbeth, but his vivid hallucinations are too much. Eventually, she pulls him aside and yet again questions his manhood, preying again on his faults. Finally, towards the end of "Macbeth," we find Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, a physical manifestation of the enormous guilt that plagues her conscience. Her sleepwalking scene is a summation of all the deeds she has done and the guilt that pervades her mind. From here her descent into madness and despair is irreversible. Through these four scenes, a gradual change in Lady Macbeth occurs from malevolent cruelty to sorrow and despair. .
We first see Lady Macbeth in act I, scene 5 reading Macbeth's letter. Immediately she says that her husband is too "full of th" milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way," meaning her husband is far too saintly and kind to realize the quickest way (Kill Duncan) to fulfill the second prophecy. This quickly sets up an aggressive woman who will apparently take the easiest route. This is further justified by her reaction upon hearing Duncan coming to visit, "The raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements.