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Discuss the soliloquy in Act III, i. How does Shakespeare convey the change in Macbeth since the soliloquy in Act I, vii?

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Macbeth Discuss the soliloquy in Act III, i. How does Shakespeare convey the change in Macbeth since the soliloquy in Act I, vii? Peter Kim (Dong Hee) 5C1 Ambition is a quality that enables man to evolve physically, and spiritually. However, in Shakespeare's tragic play of "Macbeth", it is not just pure ambition the protagonist embodies: his ambition further develops into hubris, which ultimately leads to his demise. Perhaps, the most valid reason for why "Macbeth" is so tragic, is the fact that Macbeth, in the incipient stages of the play, is so innocent and unworldly, as Lady Macbeth describes him: "like th'innocent flower". However, upon hearing the witch's prophecies, his reputation is defiled as he steps into a realm of evil, and more tragically, finds that he has "in blood stepped in so far that should [he] wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er". As the play progresses, he becomes more of a "serpent", and two soliloquies in Act I, vii and Act III, i illustrate this gradual change. In Act I, vii, we peek inside Macbeth's mind for the first time in the play through his first soliloquy. At this point, the audience is curious to find out how he responds to the prophecy of the witches, and the seductions of his wife. ...read more.


In addition, his uncertainty about the murder suggests that he has not yet recovered from the shock he received upon finding out that he "shalt be King hereafter". Nevertheless, he is convinced that his position as King is guaranteed after the murder of Duncan according to the witch's predictions. However, he does not allow himself to see beyond the murder of Duncan, and he, though not deliberately, is reckless to the true meaning of the witch's words: "lesser than Macbeth, and greater". In a larger sense, he does not know that Fate has predetermined his death-marked journey. By the end of this soliloquy, he is helpless against his own ambition. In real life, ambition is a positive characteristic that enables a worthy Thane, like Macbeth, to overcome difficulties. However, the "vaulting ambition which o'erleaps itself" and the lacking ability to restrict its dominance is not what it seems. It is the only overpowering force, and also the fundamental flaw, that urges him to become a traitor and a 'moral coward'. The latter is apparent in the sense that he tries to satisfy his desires by using unjustified, and moreover, immoral means. For instance, in Act IV he plans to kill Macduff's family, but not the man himself; another cowardly act. By contrast, the soliloquy in Act III, i evokes a completely different image of Macbeth. ...read more.


After closely examining the two soliloquies, a few points can be deduced. We find out that the change in the character of Macbeth is only minor, as he continues to rationally contemplate the consequences in Act III. This shows his conscience still at work. The only variation is that in Act I, he feels remorse and sympathy for Duncan, as apposed to his apathetic rage in Act III. However, he still presents a generous analysis on his enemy as he acknowledges Banquo's "royalty of nature" and his "dauntless temper of his mind", in the same way he praised the King's "virtues will plead like angels". It is only later in Act III, iv that he completely loses his rationality, and evil culminates to its peak. Hence, the change outlined is very subtle. "Macbeth" is a tragic story about the fatal flaw of an honourable Thane who is defiled by his own ambition. The two soliloquies in Act I, vii, and Act III, i, Shakespeare conveys the development in Macbeth's character into a power-hungry tyrant. Against others, he may have been the "brave Macbeth", but when the enemy was the man himself, he never proved to be a worthy opponent. It seems that ambition has been given a bad reputation, for the character of Macbeth, due to its defects, was never the right medium to accommodate and, unlike that of Banquo, suppress its malice for the benefit of the greater good. Word Count: 1,326 ...read more.

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Before setting pen to paper, detailed thought should be given to how to structure the essay. The question here seems to demand Macbeth's soliloquy in Act 3 sc i as a starting point for a consideration of his development in the play, but the writer chooses to begin elsewhere, which results in a lack of persuasiveness and focus.
In addition, any question which focuses on particular speeches requires really close attention to the language and content of those speeches. In this essay the writer is led astray by misquoting, and though some valid points are made, they are not backed up by adequate textual detail.

Marked by teacher Val Shore 27/02/2012

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