Throughout the play the reason Macbeth?s character changes is because the audiences opinion of Macbeth changes. When the audience first here of Macbeth all we know is that Macbethis a brave soldier who is very loyal and patriotic. But when the audience meets Macbeth he is gullable to the witches prophecies and is easily led dew to his wife Lady Macbeth also Macbeth has great ambition. Throughout the play Macbeth reveals his conscience,the audience feels great sympathy for Macbeth. After Macbeth kills King Duncan Macbeth feels he has to keep on killing to consolidate his position as king. During the play Macbeth relies on Lady Macbeth less and less. Macbeth feels remorse and regret but everyone thinks he is a butcher and a tyrant.
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Macbeth is first mentioned by the bleeding captain as?brave macbeth valours minion?fighting ruthlessly and carving up his enemy. With Banquo he is compared to an Eagle and Lion.
The loyalty and bravery of Macbeth and Banquo are contrasted with the Thane of Cawdor who is a traitor and betrayed the King by joining the enemy. It obvious from the Captains speech that Macbeth is a loyal and brave soldier who is very patriotic to his country. The Captain says Macbeth and Banquo were savage in battle but their savagery is praised as it has preserved the rightful king. Macbeth is seen as a typical 11th century hero who displays noble qualitites. This is shown by Duncan as he thinks of Macbeth as a ?valiant cousin? this reveals Macbeth to be very brave and to be highly esteemed by the king.
King Duncan asks the Captain if Macbeth and Banquo are dismayed by the Norweigans army?s fresh assault. The Captain uses irony by saying, ?As sparrows eagles, or the hare the lion? to show the determination of Macbeth and Banquo. The Captain also uses a simile,?as cannons overcharged with doubled cracks,? this is to reinforce the eagerness with which they go into battle.
Macbeth is so highly reguarded by Duncan with his efforts in battle that Duncan decides to promote Macbeth to the Thane of Cawdor. ?No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive our bossom interest. Go pronounce his present death, and with his former title greet Macbeth?. Macbeth replaces the treacherous Thane of Cawdor. This is ironic because the new Thane of Cawdor will be even more treacherous.
The audience know there is a connection between Macbeth and the three witches because the three witches have mentioned Macbeth a few times. The witches represent evil, greed and manipulation. As the play unfolds it becomes evident that Macbeth is also greedy and manipulative. When Macbeth and Banquo come back from battle their meet the three witches who predict that Macbeth will become the Thane of Cawdor and later king. They also predict that Banquo?s children will be king but that Banquo will not be king himself. The witches speak using contradictions e.g. ?fair foul and foul fair.? The audience know the witches are evil and the first time we meet Macbeth his first words are ?so foul and fair a day I have not seen? Macbeth speaks using paradoxes and echoes the words of the witches and this strengthens the link between Macbeth and the three witches. The audience can see now that in some way Macbeth and the witches will be connected throughout the play in some way.
When Macbeth hears the witches prophecies it has a great effect on Macbeth and Macbeth tries to question the witches, ?stay you imperfect speakers tell me more.? And ?speak I charge you?. Banquo starts to see that the witches have a powerful effect on Macbeth so Banquo asks him if he fears their words.
Shortly after the witches go Macbeth is given news that he has been given the title of Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth uses clothes imagery when he asks Ross and Angus ?why do they dress me in borrowed robes?. Macbeth says ?the greatest is behind,? meaning that he thinks he will become king. Macbeth broods on the events and for the first time Macbeth mmentions murder and ambition is now an omnipresent reality. Macbeth who is unable to take the titles in his own stride becomes nervously excited by the final prospect, has unconscious energies and desires which are unleashed. Macbeth who is so ?rapt? he forgets those around him ?my dull brain was wrought / with things forgotten ?.
Malcolm reports to Duncan how the Thane of Cawdor and his reply is ironic comment on the character of the present Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth.
There?s no art to find the minds construction in the face :
He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust !
Macbeth enters and fulsomely greets Duncan, stressing his complete allegiance to the King and his entourage. Duncan tells Macbeth that he has planted Macbeth and he will make sure that he will grow as a reward for Macbeth?s sevice. King Duncan then announces Malcolm as Prince of Cumberland and next in line to the throne and proclaims his intension of travelling to Macbeth?s castle in Inverness. Macbeth aside, reveals his deep annoyance at this hinderance ?a step / on which I must fall down?. Macbeth calls on the stars to hide their fires and ?let not light see my black and deep desires?. Association of night and blackness with evil, Macbeth himself seems to become a scheming shadowy figure. Macbeth has become convinced that he must have the throne.
At the beginning of act 1, scene 5 Lady Macbeth is reading a letter from her husband Macbeth, which is telling her of the witches predictions. Lady Macbeth can see Macbeth has ambition but she fears that he is too noble to make sure that the prediction is fulfilled. Macbeth declares that he is too full of the of human kindness and would be king lawfully urges him to ?beguile the time?, be cool and courteous to Duncan and also to act normal to avoid suspicion.
When Duncan arrives Macbeth finds it hard to put on a false face as he does not greet Duncan. Macbeth?s conscience shows as he is feeling guilt because he is mixed up with his ambition and the reality of having to kill Duncan. Macbeth is nervously examing the nature and consequences of the murder. Macbeth is afraid of the ?judgement? of the here and now, that he might be found out and punished. Macbeth tries to analyse the situation but he shows a conscientious fear of destroying a virtuous king. Macbeth is still in need of the final spur and is pulled between desire and fear. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he will not murder Duncan ?we will proceed no further in this business?
After Macbeth meets Banquo and Fleance, Macbeth hallucinates that he sees a dagger leading him to Duncan?s room. This shows Macbeth?s fear and troubled spirit, also this could be a sign that he will find it hard to cope with the effects of murdering someone.
When Macbeth murders Duncan he is troubled by a voice which cries ?sleep no more Glamis hath murdered sleep?. Macbeth discourses lyrically on the sweetness and balm of sleep revealing a tender awareness of a blessing that will constantly elude him because of his troubled disturbed conscience. ? Macbeth shall sleep no more?.
Guilt gets the better of Macbeth and he declares that he will ?go no further in this business? ? I am afraid to think what I have done?. Even at this stage, which is to late, he shows that he is not without remorse and ready to give in ( the milk of human kindness cozing out ) but Lady Macbeth calls him ?Infirm of purpose? and outside events prevent him from withdrawing from the situation. Macbeth is horrified at the extent of blood on his hands. ?To know my deed, twere best not know myself?. ( If I am to live on terms with this deed, I must break with my real ? my former-self ). Or it could mean, it were better for me to remain permanently lost in thought.
When Duncan is found murdered Macbeth finds it easy to put on a false face. It is assumed that the guards murdered Duncan, so Macbeth kills the guards, Macbeth feels no guilt in doing this. When Macbeth tells everyone that he has killed the guards. Macduff questions Macbeth why he destroyed the only way of finding out who or why Duncan?s guards killed him. Once again Macbeth finds it easy to put on a false face. Macbeth exaggerates while trying to explain why he killed the guards. Macbeth shows signs of guilt therefore Lady Macbeth pretends to faint, to safe Macbeth from suspicion. Even though Duncan?s guards were the prime suspects, Malcolm and Donalbain flee the country because they are uncertain about the murderers.
Macbeth is king, but Banquo suspects Macbeth of foul play. Macbeth is fearful of Banquo and he will not rest until he is killed. Macbeth is troubled and cannot feel safe while Banquo is around, ?every minute of his being thrusts against my near?st of life?. Macbeth is unable to dispose of him openly ?for certain friends that are both his and mine, whose loves I may not drop?. Macbeth is afraid to show his true nature but he is eager not to have any loose ends left.
When Macbeth is speaking with Lady Macbeth he is brooding and fearful ?these terrible dreams, that shake us nightly. Better be with the dead, whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace, than on the torture of the mind to lie / in restless ecstasy?. Although he does not know the outcome of the murderers, he still fears the worst.
The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth has deteriorated. Macbeth does not rely on her for support any longer, he makes his own decisions and does not confide or discuss his future plans with her, this is a major development in his character. Previously she helped him a lot, but now he has isolated himself. This is evident when Lady Macbeth states ?how now my lord why do you keep alone??. Although Macbeth does not disclose his future plans to Lady Macbeth he does tell her that he hasn?t gained happiness with what they have done but he actually feels regret.
When the murderers kill Banquo Macbeth sends another murderer just to be safe. This shows that Macbeth lacks trust in people and it also shows how isolated Macbeth has become.
In the banquet scene Macbeth is anxious to know that Banquo and Fleance have been murdered. Macbeth doesn?t use the word murdered when discussing the people he has killed instead he has used euphemisms, this is because he cannot handle the fact that he murders people, this shows he feels guilt and is unable to handle the consequences. This is revealed when Macbeth says to the first murderer ?is he dispatched? this is Macbeth asking if Banquo has been murdered and he also says ?but Banquo?s safe?. Macbeth has a conscience and he realises that he has done wrong. He is not essentially a bad person because he feels remorse and regret for the deeds he has committed.
Macbeth is so wrapped up about the thoughts of murder, he neglects his duty as a host of the banquet, so Lady Macbeth has to remind him of his duty. However Macbeth suffers from another hallucination, this reveals his inability to cope with these dreadful deeds that he has committed. The appearance of the ghost of Banquo reminds the audience of Macbeth?s first hallucination of the dagger before the murder of Duncan.
Again Lady Macbeth comes to the rescue and dismisses the lords before Macbeth reveals his guilty crimes, this also reminds the audience of Lady Macbeth?s fainting after the murder of Duncan as she drew the attention of Macbeth. This is the last time we encounter Macbeth and Lady Macbeth together and she is his supported wife. Macbeth reveals his feelings towards Lady Macbeth and his worries for the future ?I am in blood stepped in so far, that I should wade no more?
Because Macbeth was so troubled by Banquo?s ghost in the banquet he is determined to find out what fate has in store for him. He comes to the three witches full of perturbation and with an anguished desire to find out more. He is told by the first apparition to beware Macduff, this temporarily puts his mind at ease because he had already guessed that he was a man to fear. The second apparition tells him that he shall not be banned by any man ?of woman born?. His first reaction to this to think Macduff can?t harm him but to make doubly sure he will kill him. This determination shows the depths of Macbeth?s desire for security. The third apparition tells him that he will never be ?vanquishe?d? till ?great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / shall come against him?. This to gives him a moments peace as such a freak of nature, he thinks, could never happen. Macbeth longs to know one thing more, ?shall Banquo?s issue ever / reign in this kingdom? ?. There follows a show of eight with Banquo following , these represent the stuart kings all being descended from Banquo. The sight is unbearable to watch, Macbeth wants to dismiss them. He is distraught, fearful, terrified. After the witches have vanished, Lennox enters and is asked if weird sisters. He reports that ?Macduff is fled to England?. In an aside Macbeth mutters that Macduff has acted as if he knows Macbeth is determined to murder him. Macbeth determines to act as soon as the thought of action comes into his head. He has been given the spur to action again just as in the beginning he needed his wife to spur him on. He has become even more desperate and frenzied in his attempt to gain some security.
The murder of Lady Macduff and her children shows that Macbeth has become barbaric and ruthless as he kills innocent people. Macbeth is now known as a tyrant.
In act 5, scene 3, in a vain attempt to bolster himself up Macbeth repeats the sayings of the apparition. His disturbed mind is shown in his words and treatment of his servant. He projects his own great fear onto the boy in describing him as ?lily-liver?d? and ?whey- face?. He admits though to seyton that he is sick at heart ?and this push will cheer me over, or disseat me now?, that is, it will either make or break him. He laments that his old age will not have the blessings a virtuous man enjoys- ?honour, love, obedience, troops of friends?- but only ?mouth honour?, men obey him because they have to not because they want to. However he resumes his fighting spirit.
When the news is given to Macbeth that Lady Macbeth is dead, throughout his soliloquy Macbeth reveals his true philosophical views of life. He sees actors on a stage, performing what someone else has dictated, and it seems as if people do not have control over their destiny. He sees himself as an ?idiot? because he has been manipulated by the witches and his life has not turned out as he wished.
Macbeth is determined not to kill himself like the Romans did in such a situation, but to fight it out even though he is helpless. Macduff enters and informs him that he was, ?from his mother?s womb untimely ripp?d?. They fight and Macbeth is killed, but not before making one last hopeless, pathetic attempt to defend himself. Macbeth dies in harness as he said he would.