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Macbeth Charicter Essay, Research Paper

From noble Macbeth to this dead butcher.

People of Shakespear’s time are often thought of as Elizabethans but in fact Macbeth was written when Queen Elizabeth was on her deathbed and had appointed James the VI of Scotland her successor.Shakespeare wrote the play with this new king in mind. The basic story of Macbeth follows that of the “Chronicles of Scotland” a history book of the time. The real-life Banquo was guilty but since he was an ancestor of James I Shakespeare makes him innocent.

At this point in history people believed in the devine right of kings – that kings were appointed by God. Therefore killing the king was far worst than ordinary murder because you were committing a crime against God.

Macbeth is a tragic hero who has a fatal flaw his ambition, which ultimately leads to his demise.

The first impression we get of Macbeth in the play is from the “Captain” in Act1, scene2. He is brave Macbeth who has ripped Macdonwald open from navel to jaw. From this early indication we can see that Macbeth is a fierce and bloody man at this point his speech gives the impression of Macbeth as a hero but it foretells of decent of Macbeth from hero to butcher.

Macbeth can only be brave when he knows what he is doing and feels justified in doing it. He feels like this at the beginning of the play when he is prey to doubts and fears. We first see Macbeth afraid when he thinks of murdering Duncan it makes his hair stand on end and his heart pound. In Act2, scene 1 when Macbeth makes his “Is this a dagger…” speech he is horrified at the murder he is to commit, afraid that even the stones he walks on will give him away. In Act2 scene 2 after having committed the murder he is hysterical. In his fear he brings the daggers away from Duncan’s chamber and cannot bring himself to return them. Lady Macbeth has to do this for him. In the banquet scene Macbeth can again be seen to be terrified when Banquo’s ghost appears to him. Only at the end of the play is he again a fearless man of action saying, “ I have almost forgotten the taste of fears.” In his last speech in the play, all but beaten he cries, “Yet I will try my last” showing that he is willing to go down fighting a brave gustier.

Throughout the play Macbeth is concerned with being a real man a fact exploited by Lady Macbeth when she makes him murder Duncan by calling him a coward. At first he defends himself saying, “I dare do all that may become a man; / Who dares do more, is none.” By this Macbeth means that the crime would be immoral but he is still persuaded by his wife. This is one of the main examples in the play of how Macbeth is manipulated by his wife. Banquo’s ghost terrifies Macbeth, but he is even more terrified by his own fear because it makes him doubt his manhood. He says, “What man dare, I dare” and insists that if the ghost takes the shape of a wild animal, he will face it without trembling. When it goes he says, “ I am a man again.” This shows that Macbeth can face physical threat but not that of guilt or the supernatural.

Macbeth knows that killing the king is wrong and at the start of Act 1 scene7 he decided to, “proceed no further in the business.” Having killed Duncan he regrets it immediately and seeing his bloody hands says, “A sorry sight.” He is also deeply disturbed by his inability to say “Amen”, as if guilt has cut him off from God. In Act3, scene 1 Macbeth tries to justify his plan to murder Banquo, he thinks all will be well if he can get rid of him. Macbeth fears Banquo’s, “royalty of nature,” not only because it may expose him but because Banquo’s virtue presents a constant contrast to his own skin.

In the play Macbeth is more influenced by imagination than most of the other characters. When he first pictures murder he thinks of a “horrid image” and speaks of his “horrible imaginings.” Macbeth also has the imagination to consider the consequences of the murder. Before murdering Duncan he imagines a dagger hovering before him and afterwards imagines a voice crying, “Sleep no more!” In the banquet scene only he sees Banquo’s ghost and Lady Macbeth believes that he imagined it. She dismisses it as, “the very painting” of his fear comparing it to the air drawn dagger. To Lady Macbeth imagination and fear are almost the same thing.

A link between Macbeth and the witches is established in the opening scene of the play and it is Macbeth not Banquo they choose to lead astray with ambiguous promises. It may be due to Macbeth’s belief in the superstitious and the fact that he is easily lead which makes them pick on him and not Banquo. We know that Macbeth is ambitious and is excited by the witch’s prophecy. It is this prophecy and his ambition that leads to the downfall of Macbeth. There is a point in the play where he is told by the witches to be bloody, bold and resolute leading to him quickly deciding to give up thinking before acting and to murder Macduff’s family.

The first signs of Macbeth’s dishonesty is when he pretends to Banquo that he has not been thinking of the witches, “I think not of them.” After this he becomes increasingly devious. He puts on a show of grief when Duncan’s murder is discovered and makes a seemingly innocent inquiry about Banquo’s plans in order to have him murdered.

Macbeth’s decision to kill Banquo is a turning point in the play up until this point his wife has bullied him into action. Although he hints of his new plan from her he keeps her innocent of the knowledge. This begins to show that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are not as close as they were before the murder with him becoming more independent.

Another turning point in the play is in the Banquet scene where when he sees the ghost Macbeth realises that there is no turning back. “I am in blood. Stepp’d in so far, that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

In Act 5 we see Macbeth riding into battle still clinging to the witches’ assurances that he cannot be beaten. When he realises that he has been tricked and when his wife dies he begins to despair. Disillusioned and friendless hid pride will not let him surrender so he fights fearlessly to the bitter end.

In this play we see the tragic hero go from loyal servant to becoming a devious murderer no longer with the conscience he shows before killing Duncan. Macbeth’s belief in the supernatural, the ease which he is lead and his ambition are his main enemies all leading to a short period of success but ultimately to despair. We also see Macbeth go from brave warrior to coward and back to brave warrior in Act 7 the only one of his qualities to return by his death.

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