Lady Macduff Foils Lady Macbeth
In many of Shakespeare’s plays, there is a major character, and a lesser character whose character traits directly contrast those of the major character. This literary device is called a foil. One example of this exists in the play Romeo and Juliet, in which Mercutrio foils Romeo’s character with his disdain for love and belief in man making his own destiny. Another example of foil exists in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. The character of Lady Macduff foils Lady Macbeth in her lack ambition, her genuine love of family life and her devotion to her husband.
Although one only gets a brief glimpse at the life that Lady Macduff and her husband share, it is quite easy to assume just how different they are from the Macbeths. One example is simply from the fact that Lady Macduff has not forced her husband to climb the social ladder and try to attain the status of king. Lady Macduff seems to be content to live her life as the wife of a thane with her health and her family. Lady Macbeth however, feels not only that her husband deserves a better place in life but also that by not working to attain that higher status he is a failure.
Another major foil is the home life of Lady Macbeth as compared to that of Lady Macduff. Lady Macbeth is purportedly a loving wife to her husband. It is also said that they are complimentary, in that Macbeth has ideas and Lady Macbeth forces him into action. Although this may be true, from the actions in the play, it would seem as if Lady Macbeth forces Macbeth to do things better left undone and that he almost resents her for it, which is why he decides to leave her out of his plans to kill Banquo and Macduff’s.