Why does Lady Macbeth faint

Not many writers have had the distinction of being as widely and comprehensively discussed as Shakespeare. Macbeth is another of his critically acclaimed plays that have managed to give rise to eternally lively discussions fuelled by polemical interpretations of the metaphorical situations he created. Of all the memorable scenes of the play, the one where Lady Macbeth faints right when her husband is in the middle of an emotionally charged up dialog with Macduff still finds special mention in all modern dramatized versions and analytical works of the play.

For the first time viewer and reader of the play, the fainting act comes across as a deliberate attempt of the writer to create an air of high voltage drama and accentuate the sense of mystery, fascination, fear and intrigue associated with the murder of the two grooms. However, this is not the complete purpose of Shakespeare’s brilliantly constructed scene of the fainting Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare uses the scene as a deft stroke of intelligence, revealing latent features of the personalities of both Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. It so happens that Macbeth is under immense scrutiny from Macduff, and his own uncontrolled excitement is a prospective fuel to that fire of suspicion. Lady Macbeth most probably feigned the fainting fit to blanket out the metaphorical ‘fire.’ In simpler words, she used fainting as a weapon to divert attention from Macbeth.

The scene has many dimensions to it, each made prominent in one sense or the other by Lady Macbeth’s fainting. It indicates the cunning intelligence of the lady in not wasting any time trying to save her husband. Her presence of mind and the perfect choice of the moment make the scene special. Also, this underlines the trivial trait of Macbeth of not having control over his own words. The fainting also throws weight to the situational aesthetics, enhancing the sense of gloomy enigma all about. The fact that the lady needed to take refuge in a desperate and fake fainting act also indicates that Macduff was hot on his heels in gauging the words felling from Macbeth’s mouth.