Culminating Activity: Macbeth
“If you do not create change, change will create you”. In other words, if you do not change willingly, change will ultimately modify who you are. The change can be exceptionally superb or awfully terrible. In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the character Macbeth drastically changes. As the play goes on, Macbeth transforms from being a loyal warrior to a traitorous murderer, a loved thane to a hated king, and a weak husband to a fearless killer. Initially, Macbeth is a loyal solider for Scotland, but then slowly transforms to become a traitorous murderer.
At the beginning of the play, Macbeth proves he is worthy and displays his allegiance to Scotland as a valiant soldier; King Duncan pronounces Macbeth as the new thane of Cawdor. A solider says, “For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name/ Which smoked with bloody execution/ Like valour’s minion carved out his passage/ Till he faced the slave/ Which ne’er shook hands, nor blade farewell to him/ Till he unseam’d him from the name to the chaps/ And fix’d his head upon out battlements” (1,2, 18-25). In this quote a solider is giving Duncan an update on the war.
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The solider praises Macbeth by stating how brilliant of a fighter he is. The solider also says how gruesome Macbeth is and how he splits the enemies open from the stomach up to their jaws. This quote proves Macbeth was loyal because he risks his own life to fight and win a war for his country. However, throughout the play, Macbeth becomes traitorous, disloyal, and deceiving. For instance, when Macbeth convinced the murderers to kill his best friend, Banquo, and his son by saying they were traitors and foul people.
Macbeth mentions, “Both of you/ know Banquo was your enemy” (3,1,125-126). This quote shows how Macbeth betrays his good friend. Macbeth and Banquo were partners in war and looked out for each other. This demonstrates that Macbeth will do anything he needs to get what he wants. Irony is also shown when Macbeth tells the murderer that Banquo is evil and a traitor, when in reality the antagonist is Macbeth. This without a doubt shows Macbeth slowly changing into a backstabbing murderer. Furthermore, Macbeth goes form being immensely loved, to extremely hated.
An example of Macbeth being loved is when Duncan names him the Thane of Cawdor and asks him to come to Macbeth’s castle. Duncan says, “But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine/ On all deserves. From hence to Inverness/ And bind us further to you” (1,4, 47-49). This quote explains how the king of Scotland respects and loves Macbeth. In the quote, Duncan tells Macbeth: titles of nobility will shine on those who deserve it. Here, Duncan declares that Macbeth deserves a higher title and is then named Thane of Cawdor. Duncan then requests to stay a night at Macbeths castle.
No king would ask such a thing if he did not love or trust Macbeth. However, as the play moves forward, the love people have for Macbeth quickly transforms into hate. People catch onto Macbeth’s crimes and finally see him for the person he truly is: a betraying murderer. Individuals begin to rebel against Macbeth and join forces with England. Angus observes, “Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach/ Those he commands only move in command/ Nothing in love: now does he feel his title/ Hand loose about him, like a giants robe/ upon a dwarfish thief” (5,2,21-25).
This quote reveals what is happening in Macbeth’s castle. There are rebel armies that are punishing him for every minute of his treachery and disloyalty. Likewise, the soldiers Macbeth is commanding are only following given orders, not because they love their king. Angus also says how Macbeth is too small to be a great king, like a midget trying to wear a giant’s robe. This symbolizes how Macbeth has no one to defend or support him anymore. Subsequently, Macbeth changes from being a weak coward to a fearless killer. For instance, Macbeth showed weakness when he and Lady Macbeth were devising plan to kill Duncan. At first, Macbeth agrees with Lady Macbeth’s plan but then backs out of it. Macbeth declares, “We will proceed no further in this business/ He hath honour’d me of late; and I have brought/ Golden opinions from all sorts of people/ Which would be worn now in their newest gloss/ Not cast aside so soon” (1,7,33-37). This quote shows Macbeth backing out of their grand scheme to kill Duncan. Macbeth is scared to kill Duncan and is trying to come up with excuses to convince Lady Macbeth and himself to bring an end to the plan.
Macbeth brings up that he has earned great honor from Duncan and he wants the feeling to last, even though if he kills Duncan and becomes king he will have greater honor, but he is too cowardly to do so. Finally, as the play carries on, Macbeth slowly turns into a fearless person. Murdering eventually becomes a hobby for Macbeth. First he kills Duncan with fear and regret, then he attempts to kill Banquo and Fleance, with no fear and his only regret being that Fleance escaped. As soon as Macbeth realizes Macduff is his enemy, he makes a plan to kill his entire family.
Macbeth claims, “The very firstlings of my heart shall be/ The firstlings of my hand. And even now/ To crown my thoughts with acts, be it though and done/ The castle of Macduff I will surprise/ Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ the sword/ His Wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls/ That trace in his line. No boasting like a fool/ This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool” (4,1, 162-169). This quote clearly displays the new, unafraid Macbeth. In the quote, Macbeth pronounces he will now act on impulse rather than thinking about the situation and being a coward.
He then says he will raid Macduff’s castle and kill his wife, his children, and anyone else in his path. Thus, a colossal change in Macbeth is evident: in the beginning of the play, he worries about killing a single man, now Macbeth is planning on killing women, children, and numerous other people. He no longer frights anything. In conclusion, Macbeth – a character in one of Shakespeare’s plays – alters from being staunch to disloyal, adorned to disliked, and timid to unafraid.
Macbeth goes from being a loyal fighter for Scotland, to being a false traitor who convinces murderers to kill his best friend. Then Macbeth transforms from being loved by the king of Scotland, to being hated by all his people, including his soldiers. In addition, Macbeth modifies from being a weakling who could not kill a single man, to a killer who orders the murders of a whole family. The alterations Macbeth endures are very drastic. “You cannot change who you are, only what you do” – Phillip Pullman.