Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Lady Macbeth: Chapter 12  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, guards escort an unwilling Gruadh to a nearby church where Macbeth waits to marry her. Gruadh does not want to marry him but has no agency. Instead, she complains—first that he is married already, and that the events surrounding their marriage are full of bad omens.
Macbeth wants to marry Gruadh to enforce his claim to Moray. Although he doesn’t say it, he also wants to protect her now that her late husband cannot. Gruadh doesn’t know the second part, but as a woman doesn’t have the agency to reject him regardless. 
Themes
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Gruadh further complains that she would “prefer to be wed in the old Celtic way, with charms and blessings.” Macbeth agrees, taking her in three circles around the priest “in ancient blessing tradition,” and then points to the rising sun as an “omen.” The priest then marries them in the Catholic tradition. After, the upset Gruadh returns to the fortress at Elgin.
Gruadh was unexcited about her first marriage, but even unhappier about her second. Ironically, although she had hoped for Celtic traditions in her first ceremony, it is in the second one where she has the kind of traditional wedding she’d dreamed of. Although she does not know it yet, this signals her compatibility with Macbeth. 
Themes
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Back in Elgin, Gruadh goes against Macbeth’s commands. She will not stay in her chamber as he has requested, and instead sees to her household. When he informs her that she will leave Elgin and needs to pack, she tells him she is staying.
As Macbeth’s wife, Gruadh is expected to be subservient to him, but she exerts power in little ways. She blames him for the death of her husband and her imprisonment, and wants to punish him in return.
Themes
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Gilcomgan’s body and the bodies of his men are returned to Elgin and buried. Gruadh feels numb. She expects that soon Bodhe will avenge her husband and waits for him to send his men. Her thirst for revenge is powerful, and she attributes it to her Celtic heritage, which “demands justice at any cost.” However, the next visitors Elgin receives are a group of the king’s men.
Gruadh wants her husband avenged, and assumes Bodhe, who arranged the marriage, will be on her side. Understandably, her grudge against Macbeth will endure for the next several months, as she prays someone with power will punish him for his crime.  
Themes
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
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