Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth

by

Susan King

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Gruadh’s nursemaid. The two women remain close through much of Gruadh’s life. Maeve, however, often gives unhelpful advice when Gruadh is trying to conceive, as she believes that Gruadh’s interest in more traditionally “masculine” tasks, like sword fighting and politics, have poisoned her body and made her infertile. Maeve dies by accidental poisoning, drinking mead from a poisoned cup sent by Duncan to Macbeth and Gruadh.

Maeve Quotes in Lady Macbeth

The Lady Macbeth quotes below are all either spoken by Maeve or refer to Maeve . 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 13  Quotes

Peace and acceptance were not pretty threads in my wool basket that winter. I realized that I was alone in my resentment and anger. Others readily accepted Macbeth as the new mormaer, soon calling him Moray when they addressed him. […]

One day Maeve pulled me aside. “Find some peace for yourself,” she said. “This grief and torment will poison your babe.”

That night I sought out Elgin’s little wooden chapel, intending to pray for serenity and forgiveness. When I pushed open the door, I saw that Macbeth was already there, on his knees before the alter. He wore only a simple long shirt and trews, and for a moment I did not know him. His head was bowed, glinting dark gold in the light of candles. I saw him cover his face, and then he prostrated himself on the worn planks of the floor like a suffering pilgrim.
Faith is a private thing to my thinking, and here I witnessed an intimate side of the man. He appeared contrite, even tormented. I guessed at his sin, the murder of his first cousin Gilcomgan. By the teaching of the Church, it could blacken his soul and affect him for all eternity come judgment Day, if not expunged.

Backing away, I closed the door. I felt a stir of sympathy for a man who felt such clear anguish within himself. When I wanted to hate him most, I could not. By inches and breaths, my resentments faded, much as I strived to stoke them.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Macbeth, Gilcomgan
Page Number: 106
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19  Quotes

“The old legends are filled with such women—the great Irish queen, Macha, and Princess Scathach of Skye, who trained warriors in her fighting school, and also her sister Aoife, who bested Cu Chulainn and bore his son […] Celtic women have fought beside their men since before the names of kings were remembered. And even though Rome forbids Gaelic women to fight, it is rightful enough according to our customs.”

“They forbid with good reason,” Maeve said, bouncing Lulach on her lap. “Women have enough to do and should not have to go out and fight men’s battles, too.” […]

“The eyes of the Church cannot easily see beyond the mountains of the Gaels,” I said, “where warlike behavior in a woman is not sinful heresy, and is sometimes even necessary.” And I remembered my early vows—as a girl taking up a sword to defend herself, as a woman swearing on a sword to defend her own. Another facet of my obligation to my long legacy came clear: if others were so set on eliminating my line, and I and Lulach the last of it, then I would be steadfast as any warrior.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Aella (speaker), Bethoc (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Bodhe , Lulach , Dolina, Scathach of Skye
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

“Your weapons practice and your desire for vengeance,” Maeve told me one day, “are hardening you, dulling the bed of your womb. How can you expect to conceive a child when you feed yourself on spite and anger? Those are poisons for the body.”

She made me think, I admit, and she made me wonder. But I did not stop, not then. […]

“Your wish for vengeance is sinful,” [Father Osgar] told me one day after confession, when we walked a little. “But it is understandable. Let prayer and faith heal you.”
“I cannot give it up,” I said. “I am not yet done with this.”

“Give it up or keep it close,” he answered, “but know that until you find some peace in your heart, I will pray on your behalf. Grief is sometimes like a sharp-toothed demon that gets hold of our hearts. But its grip weakens with time, and one day you will be free of it.”

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Maeve (speaker), Macbeth, Bodhe
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22  Quotes

I brought my dilemma to Macbeth, too. “What if God is punishing me for grievances and ambitions, for sometimes wanting you to be king, no mater the cost?”

“Be patient,” he said, as he often did. “What will we give our children without the kingdom that is our lineage, and theirs? All will come to us in time, including sons.”

Maeve, who wanted me to produce another babe so that she could knee-nurse again before she was too old, said she knew what was wrong. “It is willfulness and old grief, poisoning your womb. You want to be a warrior, and you want to be a mother. A woman keeps to home and family, and tends to matters inside the home. A man keeps to war games an tends to matters outside.”

A queen tends to both, I wanted to say, but did not. She would not understand.

Related Characters: Gruadh / Rue / Lady Macbeth (speaker), Macbeth (speaker), Maeve (speaker)
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Lady Macbeth LitChart as a printable PDF.
Lady Macbeth PDF

Maeve Character Timeline in Lady Macbeth

The timeline below shows where the character Maeve appears in Lady Macbeth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...important. She finally goes inside and makes herself presentable with the help of her nurse, Maeve. As she arrives in the great hall a fight has just broken out—Macbeth and Gilcomgan... (full context)
Chapter 5 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...watching the proceedings with Gruadh, argues, “this is not justice,” and believes Macbeth deserves more. Maeve, who has also come to watch the trial, explains that King Malcolm needs a strong... (full context)
Chapter 7 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
After breakfast, Aella and Maeve help dress Gruadh. She wears a green dress, even though it is an unlucky color,... (full context)
Chapter 10 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...help her undress and bathe. Dolina places small trinkets of protection around the room, and Maeve gives her a drink made to lessen the pain and increase her arousal. Eventually, Gilcomgan... (full context)
Chapter 11 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...on Elgin. At first, Gruadh is unconcerned, and assumes the advancing forces are harmless, but Maeve is concerned for their safety and wants to evacuate—she explains that Macbeth is marching on... (full context)
Chapter 13 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
That evening, Maeve and Aella comfort Gruadh as she cries. Gruadh knows women, especially ladies, are not meant... (full context)
Chapter 14 
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Over the next day and night, Gruadh labors but cannot deliver her baby. Maeve and Aella help her as best they can. Maeve invokes the goddess Brigid but it... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...goes for a midwife himself. She arrives hours later and introduces herself as Catriona. Like Maeve and Aella, Catriona also prays to the goddess Brigid and performs rituals, but unlike those... (full context)
Chapter 15 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Gruadh names her son Lulach. It is the name of one of her ancestors. Although Maeve comments it is “a name for a milch cow,” Gruadh explains “cattle are our best... (full context)
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Lulach has his naming ceremony, which, according to custom, Gruadh is not allowed to attend. Maeve goes however, and afterwards tells Gruadh of a strange encounter on the road to the... (full context)
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Maeve notes that Macbeth has strong ambition, and that marrying Gruadh strengthened his claim to the... (full context)
Chapter 16 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...She still feels grief and anger, but also believes one day she might feel forgiveness. Maeve calls this a “mothering instinct,” claiming “women are peace weavers by nature.” (full context)
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...of desire for Macbeth, who has yet to visit her in her bedroom at night. Maeve, too, now considers Macbeth “a good man,” and reminds Gruadh she will need to have... (full context)
Chapter 19 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...to Elgin. Gruadh and Macbeth often have sex, but she has not become pregnant again. Maeve suggests that Gruadh’s continued insistence on practicing with her sword and her desire for revenge... (full context)
Chapter 22 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
Still, Maeve tells Gruadh “old grief” is “poisoning” her body against pregnancy, and that by trying to... (full context)
Chapter 25 
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
Violence, Justice, and Revenge  Theme Icon
...She gives Macbeth one drinking horn and Drostan, her guest, the other. Drostan shares with Maeve, as he does not like mead. However, soon after taking a sip, Maeve collapses. Gruadh... (full context)
Chapter 26 
Gender Roles  Theme Icon
Magic, Tradition, and Religion  Theme Icon
Fate, Family, and Ambition  Theme Icon
...warriors. She adds that she has her own reason to ride out—the deaths of Bodhe, Maeve, and the poisoning of Macbeth. Finally, her husband consents and allows her to ride. (full context)