At the beginning Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a sort of hero. He is presented as a great warrior and loyal servant of the king, Duncan. However, as we progress through the play we see another side of Macbeth. This is the side of evil all powered by his unstoppable lust for power and greatness. We see this lust for power become stronger and stronger until he leaves the whole of Scotland in a terrible state.
The play starts with the witches talking about Macbeth and what a great warrior he is.
In Shakespeares time witches were thought of as evil and the fact that they were talking about Macbeth made the audience make the connection between Macbeth and evil. The witches also give the audience the setting of the play and the story so far. They tell the audience about the battle in which Macbeth is fighting and that they will meet Macbeth on his return. When the king hears of Macbeths heroics in battle he is very pleased and refers to him as valiant cousin, worthy gentleman.
The king also presents Macbeth with the title of the Thane of Cawdor. This just adds to Macbeths already great status and shows him to be even more of a hero. This is backed up again by the sergeant who refers to him as brave Macbeth and Valours minion. Ross also admires his bravery by referring to him as Bellonas bridegroom.
The first time we see Macbeth is when he arrives on the heath where the witches are settled. Even before Macbeth appeared for the first time we had quite a clear picture of him. The first words Macbeth speaks, So fair and foul a day I neer have seen mirror the first words we hear from the witches. When Macbeth meets the witches they seem to know a lot about him and start implanting the idea of becoming king in his mind. Macbeth is taken aback by the witches and their prophecies which suggests that Macbeth has thought about it before and is frightened that his secret has been uncovered.
When the messengers arrive with the news that Macbeth has earned the title of Thane of Cawdor this acts as a catalyst in his lust for power and quest to become king. The contrast between Macbeth and Banquos attitude towards the prophecies shows how Macbeth has great ambitions and is starting to think about killing the king.
Macbeths lust for power is strengthened again when Duncan proclaims his son, Malcolm as heir to the throne. Macbeth reacts to this by referring to Malcolm as a step I must oerleap. Macbeth writes home telling his wife, Lady Macbeth about the witches prophecies. Lady Macbeth knowing Macbeth so well is aware of what Macbeth is thinking and when she reads the letter further she learns that Duncan is coming to her house to stay for a night. This gives her the opportunity she needs.
When Macbeth comes back home after the battle he makes it clear he hasnt made up his mind about killing Duncan by saying we will speak further. Later on Macbeth considers the consequences of killing Duncan and thinking that killing him would be easy if there were no consequences to go along with it. That but this blow, might be the be-all and end-all here. Macbeth also considers the effect that killing Duncan will have on his conscience. Bloody instructions, which being taught, return to plague the inventor. After coming to these conclusions Macbeth thinks up a list of reasons why not to kill Duncan. He knows that he is the kings loyal kinsman and as his host, should protect him. He says that killing such a great king would cause heavens angels to blow the horrid deed in every eye. The only thing that keeps Macbeth going is his lust for power and this is proven when he says, I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which oerleaps itself and falls on the other.
When Macbeth again consults Lady Macbeth about the murder he seems to have decided against it by telling her We will proceed no further in this business.
Lady Macbeth again persuades Macbeth by accusing Macbeth of being a coward and saying that if she had said she would dash her own sons brains out the way Macbeth said he would kill Duncan she would have gone ahead and done it. Macbeth again is shown to be unable to make decisions for himself and finally gives in to Lady Macbeth and agrees to kill Duncan. I am settled, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Macbeth is still shown to be in two minds about killing Duncan. He imagines a dagger in front of him showing him the way to Duncans chamber, which suggests he is uneasy about the prospect of killing the king. Or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? This shows the great mental strain on Macbeth and his inability to cope with such a deed.
After Macbeth has committed the deed he came out of Duncans chamber in a trance like state. He was still holding the daggers he used as weapons, which were supposed to be left next to the guards so they could take the blame. Macbeth starts to feel the strain on his conscience when he says Macbeth doth murder sleep and To know my deed, twere best not know myself. This is further shown when he hears the knocking at the gates and says Wake Duncan with thy knocking, I would thou couldst.
By the time the discovery was made Macbeth had recovered enough to appear shocked at the news of Duncans death but wasnt very convincing in his act. When Macduff ran out of Duncans chamber Macbeth seemed far too calm for the situation. Macbeth kills the grooms because he thinks that they might incriminate him. When Macbeth is explaining to the thanes why he killed the grooms he is too wordy and Lady Macbeth has to fake a faint to stop Macbeth from revealing all about their plans.
Macbeth being third in line as heir to the throne, after Malcolm and Donalbain who feared for their lives and fled, becomes king. You would think this was enough for Macbeth but his lust for power is too strong and stops him from being content with what he has. He realises Banquo is his source of insecurity because of what the witches said about him being the father of many kings. Macbeths lust for power makes him think that there was no point killing Duncan if his children would not inherit the title of king from him. He needs this security and shows it by saying To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.
Macbeth comes to the conclusion that the best way to get rid of this insecurity is to have Banquo killed as well as his son, Fleance. This time Macbeth does not consult Lady Macbeth about killing Banquo, which shows he has gained strength from killing Duncan. Macbeth also shows no hesitation in his decision as he did with Duncan, despite the fact that Banquo is his friend and fellow soldier.
When Macbeth hears that Banquo is dead but Fleance still lives he is again uncertain about his future. Then comes my fit again: I had else been perfect. At the banquet Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo and starts to panic and shout at it. Lady Macbeth again has to come to the rescue by telling guests he has been having fits like this since his childhood. The fit is momentary. feed and regard him not. This event causes Macbeth to go and search for the witches to learn about his future. In this scene Macbeth reveals how he regards his present state and he decided to continue along the path of evil. I am in blood steppd in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go oer. Scotland under Macbeth was by now a very unhappy place and opposition to Macbeth was growing. In the second meeting he was told to beware of Macduff but told that no man born of woman could harm him. Macbeths uncertainty about his future is shown when Macbeth resolves to get Macduff killed. On hearing that Macduff has fled to England, Macbeth decides to have his whole family killed instead, showing how cruel a tyrant he has become. Macduff and Malcolm gather an army up and invade Scotland. Macbeths army deserts him and he is left to fend for himself. Macbeth stands bravely against the invading army, which again restores his image as a brave soldier. On confronting Macduff, Macbeth learns that he was untimely rippd from his mothers womb. Macbeth dies a soldiers death at the hands of Macduff and Malcolm becomes the new king of Scotland.
In the end Macbeth got just what he deserved but I dont think he knew the full extent of what he was getting himself into. I believe that most of the blame must lie on Lady Macbeths shoulders, as it was she who persuaded Macbeth to go ahead with the deed when he was about to give up and be the loyal soldier he should have been.
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