Lady Macbeth is the titular deuteragonist/secondary antagonist of Shakespeare's play Macbeth. She is the wife of Lord Macbeth of Scotland, and it is she who gives him the idea of killing the King.

Because of her part in the crimes, Lady Macbeth is so remorseful that she walks in her sleep and eventually kills herself.


Lady Macbeth portrayed by Marion Cotillard

In the opera based on the play, Lady Macbeth is a soprano.

In the 2015 adaptation of the play directed by Justin Kurzel, she was played by the famous French actress, Marion Cotillard.

In the play

Lady Macbeth goads her husband, Lord Macbeth, into murdering King Duncan so he can usurp the throne. While Macbeth refuses at first, she wears him down by appealing to his ambition and challenging his manhood. She gets Duncan's guards so drunk that they pass out to give Macberth a clear path to kill Duncan. Once Macbeth kills Duncan, Lady Macbeth plants the blood-stained dagger he used on the guards, framing them for the murder. She feigns sorrow at the King's death, and insinuates that Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, ordered their father's death, forcing them to flee the country. With all other potential inheritors of the throne vanquished, Macbeth becomes King of Scotland, with Lady Macbeth as his Queen.

Once she has the power she so long desired, however, Lady Macbeth is plagued with guilt over her role in Duncan's murder. Her guilt is so overpowering that she hallucinates that her hands are stained with Duncan's blood, as well as that of the other people who Macbeth murdered to secure his power. Unable to stand it any longer, she commits suicide by jumping off her castle's highest peak.


  • Lady Macbeth is considered by some critics and scholars to be the main villain of the play, despite the fact that she never actually kills anyone and plays no part in the dozens of murders that her husband later commits.