Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Gruadh’s mother, and Bodhe’s first wife. She practices ancient Celtic traditions, such as tattooing Gruadh with the triskele as a baby, and divination. Like her daughter, Ailsa possesses Da Shealladh, or second sight—the ability to see the future. Ailsa dies from complications of childbirth, and her infant daughter, Brigid, dies with her. Before Ailsa dies, she tells Gruadh to be strong, advice Gruadh holds on to for the rest of her life.

Ailsa Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Ailsa or refer to Ailsa . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Rivers Press edition of Lady Macbeth published in 2008.
Chapter 2 Quotes

“A princess of Scotland has no use of those skills.”
“Scathach was also a princess,” I pointed out. “Scathach of the old legends, who had a school for fighting on the Isle of Skye and taught the heroes of the Fianna their skills—”

“I know the tale,” he said curtly. “Those were older days. It is not your place to fight, but ours to defend you, if need be.” […]

“I am your direct heir now,” I reminded Bodhe. “I must be prepared, since you say I could be a queen one day, and my husband a king. So men will always argue over me, and more deaths will occur on my account.” […]

“You have a warrior spirit,” he admitted, “for a gently raised daughter.”

“Scathach of Skye,” I reminded. “No one would have stolen her away.”

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

Our priest baptized the child to protect her soul, and the midwives bathed her in warm milk and lifted her in their hands as they spoke charms against all manner of ills: fire, drowning, illness and injury, fairies, bewitchings, elf bolts, all conceivable harms. Bodhe named his new daughter Brigid to further protect her. Yet within days, Ailsa and tiny Brigid were buried together on a hill overlooking the sea, and I, who heard equally the catechism and the Celtic tales, wondered if their souls would travel to heaven or Tír na n’Óg, the paradise beyond Ireland in the misty realm, which our bard spoke about. […]

“Ailsa of Argyll is dead,” [Father Anselm] said bluntly, stopping, “and her soul needs our prayers, not trinkets, so that she may be forgiven by the grace of God. Perhaps she need only spend a little time in purgatory before her soul is purified of sin.”

“My mother will go straight to heaven on the strength of her character,” I said. “Though she might prefer Tír na n’Óg, where she would not be judged.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Father Anselm (speaker), Bodhe , Ailsa , Brigid
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7  Quotes

Them men formed a circle around me, friends and enemies both. Ahead, on the earth of the practice yard, two swords lay crossed and ready, shining blades reflecting the glow of the sunrise. Nearby, horses stood, gleaming and grand, ready to be ridden, while overhead, two eagles winged toward the mountains, and a raven settled on a gatepost. Moon and stars were still visible in the sky, and the sunrise flowed over the hilltops like a spill of blood, the sun in its midst like a golden wafer. […] I knew some of the elements—ravens were death and warning, eagles pride and pairing, horses freedom; the swords might be conflict or war, and the circle of warriors around me could have been a sign of protection, or the men in my future. […] My mother had been gifted with the Sight that brings spontaneous visions, so common among the Gaels that we call it Da Shealladh, the gift of two sighs. A great-grandmother on Bodhe’s side had been a taibhsear, a seer, from whom others sought advice.

Until that moment, I had not known that I, too, had a hint of that talent.

Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8  Quotes

“Often the meaning of the omens we see it not clear until later. If we knew too much about the future, we might be afraid to step from our houses. Do not fret—the signs you saw speak of Scotland’s future even more than your own.”
“Scotland?” I blinked. “Because of the warriors and symbols of warfare?”
“Perhaps they will be Rue’s husbands in future,” Bethoc said. “Well, not all of them,” she amended when I gaped at her.

Mairi took my hands in hers and closed her eyes. “Two husbands,” she said. “Three, if you so choose. Like most women you will have a share of happiness and measures of sorrow. Unlike most, you will have… power.” She let go of my fingers. “You can draw strength from within yourself, like water from a well. Your mother gave you the sign of the good Brigid on your shoulder,” she went on, touching my upper sleeve, which covered the symbol. “Call upon that protection whenever you need it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Mairi (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe , Gilcomgan , Ailsa , The Goddess Brigid
Related Symbols: The Triskele
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ailsa Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Ailsa appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
History, Memory, and Storytelling  Theme Icon
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
...and a fighter. When Bodhe remains unconvinced, Gruadh threatens to use the spellcrafts her mother, Ailsa, taught her. (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Gruadh’s mother, Ailsa, died from complications of childbirth when Gruadh was eleven. Gruadh’s little sister, Brigid, was baptized... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
In the days after Ailsa’s death, Gruadh’s aunt, Eva, gives her a bag of charms—crystals, Ailsa’s needles and embroidery, and... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
When her daughter was a baby, Ailsa gave Gruadh a Celtic tattoo, the triskele, or symbol of the goddess Brigid. It is... (full context)
Chapter 5 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...will also have to give Macbeth certain properties. This is the highest possible fine, but Ailsa, who is watching the proceedings with Gruadh, argues, “this is not justice,” and believes Macbeth... (full context)
Chapter 7 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...She brings with her a stone with a hole in the middle (one of her Ailsa’s trinkets), a bowl of water, candles, and feathers. She walks around the stone and recites... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...wears a green dress, even though it is an unlucky color, because it belonged to Ailsa. Gruadh feels as though she is being dressed for a beheading but participates in the... (full context)
Chapter 20 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
...she can keep herself safe. They travel towards Moray’s border with Argyll, where Graudh’s mother, Ailsa, was born, and these men promise Macbeth three thousand men whenever he needs.  (full context)