Lady Macbeth is perhaps one of Shakespeare's most famous female characters. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth, she is depicted as stronger, more ruthless and more ambitious then her husband. She is power hungry and manipulative. Nearing the end of the play however, Lady Macbeth's once hardened outer shell begins to crumble as guilt grasps her entire being. .
When Lady Macbeth first hears of her husbands prophecy of becoming king she states that she knows Macbeth is ambitious, but fears he is too full of "th'milk of human kindness" to take the steps necessary to make himself king (I.v.15). She quickly formulates a plan that ascertains her husbands place as king and accordingly, her place as queen. It is then she delivers a famous speech in which she pleads, "you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, / And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty" (I.v.38-41). She decides to put her natural femininity aside so that she may do the murderous deeds necessary to seize the crown. By questioning her husband's masculinity she uses manipulation to coerces him into committing atrocities he once only thought of committing. This implies that ambition and violence is masculine. Consequently, Macbeth declares his wife to be a masculine soul occupying a female body. This connection between gender and power is a key element in Lady Macbeth's character. .
Despite her gender, Lady Macbeth initially appears to be more masculine than her husband is. Lady Macbeth is clearly the driving force in her husband's evil doings. While Macbeth feels guilty for murdering his king, Lady Macbeth remains the voice of reason, as she tells him that the blood can be washed away with a little water: "A little water clears us of this deed," (II.ii.65). There is a sense of irony in this for as Lady Macbeth in time realizes that the guilt that the blood symbolizes needs more than water to cleanse the guilt.