Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Describe the character of Macbeth in detail Essay
Describe the character of Macbeth in detail, showing clearly in what way his character changes as a result of the action of the play. Consider carefully why you feel Macbeth is a tragic hero and whether you feel any sympathy for him. NOTES: * Beginning Ã¢â¬â honest; noble; valiant; brave; loyal * End Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"butcherÃ¢â¬ ; not honest, loyal; still brave and prepared to fight till his death Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"at least weÃ¢â¬â¢ll die with harness on our backÃ¢â¬ ; he has become cruel and hardened Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"I have almost forgotten the taste of fearÃ¢â¬ . He is corrupted by power and greed * So What Changes Him? : o Witches give him idea o Wife encourages him/builds on idea o Ambition/determination to be king o Once he starts killing, he canÃ¢â¬â¢t stop * Macbeth kills MacduffÃ¢â¬â¢s family Ã¢â¬â turning point for L. Macbeth Ã¢â¬â she realises what she has turned her husband into. * He can no longer control his ambition and it takes control over his actions * In the very first scene when we meet the witches, we see that Macbeth is closely connected to them, because they are talking about him, saying they will meet him and talk to him Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"there to meet with MacbethÃ¢â¬ . However, this is strongly contrasted in the next scene when we hear Duncan talking favourably about Macbeth, saying that he fought bravely and is to be rewarded for his loyalty Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"oh valiant cousin, worthy gentlemanÃ¢â¬ , Ã¢â¬Å"they smack of honour bothÃ¢â¬ * Although it may seem from the start that Macbeth is weaker than his wife, this is not always the case Ã¢â¬â she never actually kills anyone: she gets Macbeth to kill Duncan because she thinks Duncan looks like her father when he sleeps Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had doneÃ¢â¬â¢tÃ¢â¬ . * Ã¢â¬Å"Glamis and Thane of Cawdor: the greatest is behind.Ã¢â¬ Ã¢â¬â Here we see MacbethÃ¢â¬â¢s own ambition before his wife has intervened. Also, before he talks to his wife, he considers the witches and if they are telling him the truth or if they are just evil, and he also thinks about ways he could fulfil their prophecy, the murderer of Duncan being one of them Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"my thought, whose murder is yet but fantastical.Ã¢â¬ * Dramatic irony Ã¢â¬â just as Duncan and Malcolm are talking about deceit and saying how Ã¢â¬Å"thereÃ¢â¬â¢s no art to find the mindÃ¢â¬â¢s construction in the faceÃ¢â¬ , Macbeth enters. We know he is already deceiving people. * He starts to become evil when, in act 1 scene 4, he thinks about killing Malcolm. Here he starts to rhyme as well, like the witches, Ã¢â¬â a sign of him changing Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"stars hide your firesÃ¢â¬ ¦when it is done to seeÃ¢â¬ * When Macbeth and his wife are discussing DuncanÃ¢â¬â¢s murder, Macbeth is unsure about it Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"we will speak furtherÃ¢â¬ Ã¢â¬â but his wife keeps encouraging him. Ã¢â¬Å"MacbethÃ¢â¬ by William Shakespeare is a play about deceit, ambition and betrayal, in which some of the characters change dramatically because of the fast-moving action of the play. One of these characters is the playÃ¢â¬â¢s tragic hero, Macbeth himself. Macbeth as we see him at the end of the play is barely recognisable as the same man we meet at the beginning: he has turned from a loyal, noble man to a cruel and hardened Ã¢â¬Å"butcherÃ¢â¬ , driven mostly by his own ambition to become King. Because Macbeth is a true tragic hero and we can clearly see all his good qualities as well as his bad ones, we do feel some sympathy for him as well. This play is set in Scotland, where Macbeth is a gallant Thane who is recognised and rewarded by King Duncan for his heroic efforts in battle. However, Macbeth is given the idea by three witches that someday he himself will be King and, especially after speaking to his wife on the matter, he becomes determined to fulfil the witchesÃ¢â¬â¢ prophecy and claim the throne of Scotland. Although, this is not easy and Macbeth resorts to murder and begins to kill anyone who might pose a threat to him, and this eventually leads to his own death. From the very first scene, we see that Macbeth is somehow connected to the supernatural as the three witches speak of meeting Macbeth and talking with him Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"there to meet with MacbethÃ¢â¬ . However, this is contrasted is the next scene when we hear Duncan speaking favourably of Macbeth, saying that he fought bravely and is to be rewarded for his loyalty Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"o valiant cousin, worthy gentlemanÃ¢â¬ , Ã¢â¬Å"they smack of honour bothÃ¢â¬ (Macbeth and Banquo). Therefore, before we have even met Macbeth ourselves, we have a mixed opinion of him; is he a valiant and Ã¢â¬Å"worthy gentlemanÃ¢â¬ or does he have a darker side to him as the witches suggest? The answer to this question is that he has both qualities, but they each arise separately. During the course of the play, we see Macbeth quickly changing from a Ã¢â¬Å"gentlemanÃ¢â¬ to a Ã¢â¬Å"butcherÃ¢â¬ . The first time we meet Macbeth is with the witches, and his first words Ã¢â¬Å"so foul and fair a dayÃ¢â¬ echo the witchesÃ¢â¬â¢ in the first act Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"fair is foul and foul is fairÃ¢â¬ . This gives the immediate impression that he is closely connected to them, and in his first soliloquy he is giving second thoughts to what the witches said about his future and he is clearly ambitious from the start Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: the greatest is behindÃ¢â¬ . Although Macbeth is thinking about the witchesÃ¢â¬â¢ words and already considering the possibility of murdering Duncan, he makes it clear he would never actually do it Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"my thought, whose murder is yet but fantasticalÃ¢â¬ . In the next scene, Duncan and Malcolm talk about deceit and they say that Ã¢â¬Å"there is no art to find the mindÃ¢â¬â¢s construction in the faceÃ¢â¬ , when, ironically, Macbeth walks in: he is hiding his thoughts about the witches and we know he will be deceitful when he murders Duncan Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"stars hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desiresÃ¢â¬ . Again, when talking to Lady Macbeth, he is still unsure of the idea. She is trying to persuade him that DuncanÃ¢â¬â¢s death would be best but he still says Ã¢â¬Å"we will speak furtherÃ¢â¬ and he is worried about someone finding out what he will have done Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"if we should failÃ¢â¬ , and it is easy to see that Macbeth is a good and moral person. In MacbethÃ¢â¬â¢s first major soliloquy he weighs up both sides of the argument, thinking about how much Duncan trusts him and thinks he is a good man Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"heÃ¢â¬â¢s here in double trustÃ¢â¬ . Macbeth knows that Duncan is also a good man, and a wonderful king, and it would not be right to kill the king simply because of his own greed, but his ambition to be king leads him on. Macbeth knows that people have Ã¢â¬Å"golden opinionsÃ¢â¬ of him, and he likes being looked upon in such a way, and he does not really want to loose that; he knows that he will if he carries out this murder, and these opinions would be Ã¢â¬Å"cast aside so soonÃ¢â¬ . However, Macbeth is now determined, although not as much as his wife, to become the King of Scotland and he says that the only thing leading him on is his ambition Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"I have no spurÃ¢â¬ ¦but only vaulting ambitionÃ¢â¬ . Just before, and after, Macbeth murders Duncan, he is at his weakest and feels very culpable. His imagination begins to play on him. In the moments leading up to the murder, his thoughts are filled with evil; he imagines seeing a dagger covered in blood Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"is this a dagger I see before meÃ¢â¬ ¦or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation?Ã¢â¬ , and he imagines actually killing Duncan Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"I seeÃ¢â¬ ¦gouts of bloodÃ¢â¬ . He thinks that Ã¢â¬Å"nature seems deadÃ¢â¬ and he thinks of wolfs, ghosts, and witches Ã¢â¬â all symbols of evil. Once Macbeth has murdered Duncan, he still imagines things: he claims to hear voices telling him that he will never sleep again Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"sleep no more: Macbeth does murder sleepÃ¢â¬ and he cannot wash the blood stains off his hands Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"will all great NeptuneÃ¢â¬â¢s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? NoÃ¢â¬ , to which his wife replies, Ã¢â¬Å"a little water clears us of this deedÃ¢â¬ (only to prove herself wrong later). When Duncan is discovered dead by Macduff, Macbeth acts surprised and angry Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"the wine of life is drawnÃ¢â¬ , Ã¢â¬Å"thÃ¢â¬â¢expedition of my violent love outran the pauser, reasonÃ¢â¬ . However, this may not be just an act: Macbeth could really be feeling that way, and he is angry with himself for what he has done when he sees other peopleÃ¢â¬â¢s reactions. Hence, Macbeth travels to Scone and is crowned King of Scotland. Even though Macbeth has achieved what he wanted Ã¢â¬â to be king Ã¢â¬â he does not stop killing. He fears Banquo knows that he killed Duncan, so Macbeth is now suspicious of Banquo, as Banquo is of him Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"there is none but he, whose being I do fearÃ¢â¬ Therefore, the only option Macbeth sees is to kill Banquo, so he arranges for three men to murder Banquo and his son, Fleance, on the night of a banquet. He tells them that he cannot murder Banquo himself because the risk of being found out is too great Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"certain friends that are both his and mineÃ¢â¬ ¦wail his fallÃ¢â¬ . This is the point at which we see a major change in MacbethÃ¢â¬â¢s character: he is still nervous and slightly afraid, but is now a little more confident; and he organised the murder by his own free will and without any help Ã¢â¬â he did not need his wife to set it up or to assist him, whereas et the murder of Duncan it was she who organised everything. Lady Macbeth did not even have any knowledge of BanquoÃ¢â¬â¢s murder before it took place and she asks Macbeth Ã¢â¬Å"what is to be done?Ã¢â¬ and Macbeth tells her to Ã¢â¬Å"be innocent of the knowledgeÃ¢â¬ ¦till thou applaud the deedÃ¢â¬ . Macbeth is pleased to hear of BanquoÃ¢â¬â¢s death, but the news of FleanceÃ¢â¬â¢s escape troubles him Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"then comes my fit againÃ¢â¬ ¦I am cabined, cribbed, confinedÃ¢â¬ . We can see that Macbeth does still have a conscience when he is at the banquet, as he sees the ghost of Banquo in the hall Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"the graced person of Banquo presetÃ¢â¬ and he talks to it Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"thou canst not say I did it; never shake thy gory locks at meÃ¢â¬ ; so it is clear that Macbeth still has remorse for what he has done and he cannot hide it, despite his wife telling him to Ã¢â¬Å"look like thÃ¢â¬â¢innocent flower, but be the serpent underÃ¢â¬â¢tÃ¢â¬ and he said himself that Ã¢â¬Å"the false face must hide what the false heart doth knowÃ¢â¬ . Macbeth speaks to his wife alone after the banquet, and he says that he will visit the witches again and from now on he will kill anyone who might get in the way of him keeping the throne Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"we are yet but young in the deedÃ¢â¬ , so we can see Macbeth changing again, this time becoming more confident. This is the last time that he and his wife see each other. Macbeth goes to see the three witches again and his confidence is boosted even more. The witches plan, and succeed, to make Macbeth over-confident and this will be his down fall. They show him three apparitions, each telling him something; the first is an armed head (which is actually his own) and it tells him to Ã¢â¬Å"beware MacduffÃ¢â¬ , the second is a child covered in blood (Macduff) who tells him Ã¢â¬Å"no man born of a woman shall harm MacbethÃ¢â¬ , and the third, a crowned child with a tree in its hand (Malcolm) tells him that Ã¢â¬Å"Macbeth shall never be vanquished until Great Birnam WoodÃ¢â¬ moves to Dunsinane hill. Finally, a procession of eight kings passes with Banquo following behind them. These apparitions, especially the second and third, make Macbeth more confident in himself and he thinks he cannot be killed by anyone. With his newfound confidence he vows to continue killing, as he cannot be stopped Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my handÃ¢â¬ , and with the knowledge of Macduff travelling to England, Macbeth turns to murdering every other member of MacduffÃ¢â¬â¢s family Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"give to the edge oÃ¢â¬â¢thÃ¢â¬â¢sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate soulsÃ¢â¬ . As Lady Macbeth grows weaker, Macbeth grows stronger. Lady Macbeth is now the one feeling guilty, and she begins sleepwalking and hearing Ã¢â¬Å"foul whispÃ¢â¬â¢ringsÃ¢â¬ , just as Macbeth was before. Macbeth heads into battle against the English army, knowing that his Ã¢â¬Å"way of life is fallÃ¢â¬â¢n into the sereÃ¢â¬ . He has now become hardened and does not care for much, except his wife; when the doctor brings him news of Lady MacbethÃ¢â¬â¢s illness, Macbeth asks him to make her better Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"cure her of thatÃ¢â¬ ¦perilous stuff which weighs upon the heartÃ¢â¬ , so we can clearly see that he still loves her and cares about her, and has not yet completely lost everything that was good about him. Despite this, Macbeth is now a more cruel and, in a way, evil man and he says he has Ã¢â¬Å"almost forgot the taste of fearsÃ¢â¬ , and he is not surprised to hear of his wifeÃ¢â¬â¢s death Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"she would have died hereafterÃ¢â¬ . He thinks about life and how it is a Ã¢â¬Å"brief candleÃ¢â¬ and now his life has lost itÃ¢â¬â¢s meaning, so he might as well die fighting Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"lifeÃ¢â¬â¢s but a walking shadow, a poor playerÃ¢â¬ ¦then is heard no moreÃ¢â¬ ¦signifying nothingÃ¢â¬ . Macbeth knows he is going to die when he hears that Birnam wood is moving toward Dunsinane but still he is brave Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"bear-like I must fight the courseÃ¢â¬ . Macbeth meets with Macduff outside the castle, where he learns that Macduff was not born of a woman and he can kill him. Now Macbeth knows for sure that he will die there and then and he could have just let Macduff kill him, but he decided to fight bravely till his death Ã¢â¬â Ã¢â¬Å"at least weÃ¢â¬â¢ll die with harness on our backÃ¢â¬ . Macbeth is truly a tragic hero as he had many of the qualities needed to be king Ã¢â¬â he was a good man: noble, brave, loyal, caring and loving toward his wife, and he never lost the will to fight bravely, no matter what the outcome may be. However, he changed in a very short space of time to become cruel and hardened, influenced, first by the witches, then by his wife. Because of this, we do feel sympathy for him; because he was good man who was changed by supernatural beings, but also partly by his own ambition. This is a tragic tale of how ambition can tarnish a person and make their life seem pointless, or as Macbeth said Ã¢â¬Å"LifeÃ¢â¬â¢s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury Signifying nothingÃ¢â¬ .