What’s a good quote that shows Lady Macbeth’s attitude to her husband for GCSE English Literature essays?

Choosing key quotes from Macbeth can be difficult. There are so many great ones to choose from. So, take a look at this quote that I find really useful, in my teaching and in my own Macbeth exam model answers, for exploring Lady Macbeth’s character:

LADY MACBETH

Yet do I fear thy nature,

It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness

To catch the nearest way.

Macbeth 1.5.15-17

Analysis of the quote

At this point in the play, Lady Macbeth is alone on stage, reacting to a letter from Macbeth that she has just finished reading. This makes this speech a soliloquy – Lady Macbeth speaks aloud, revealing her true thoughts to the audience.

She is clearly excited by the prospect of becoming Queen but is concerned that Macbeth’s “nature” is too kind, “too full o’th’milk of human kindness,” to take immediate action. The immediate action, or “nearest way,” she alludes to is regicide – the quickest way to get rid of the King and take his place.

This figurative use of “milk” to suggest kindness will recur elsewhere in the play. Mere moments later, Lady Macbeth will call on the “murdering ministers” to replace her nurturing milk with bitter gall; she clearly associates milk with being a mother and therefore, she feels, with being too weak and too caring.

For exam guidance including more Macbeth quotes, analysis and quotes from other texts, and help for GCSE English Language, follow on social media and subscribe to the newsletter.

Get the full collection of Macbeth model answers, and many more, from GCSEEnglish.uk and Amazon.

Best of luck in your exams!