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Trace the Development of Macbeth's Character in Act One

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Introduction

Trace the Development of Macbeth's Character in Act One Macbeth is a tragic hero, comfortable in the role of a warrior. Act One of this play shows us the decline of Macbeth's character as it develops from a heroic warrior to a ruthless murderer. His ambitious nature is exposed when his destiny is revealed. Shakespeare examines the boundaries of Human Nature and allows the audience to visualise the destructive force of ambition. The audience is allowed inside of Macbeth's conflicting mind and the imagery allows us to sense the conflict. There is a clear conflict between good and evil, and this makes the audience feel uneasy. The witches symbolise the force of evil and establish the atmosphere of conflict in the first scene, by using the oxymoron, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair,". The impact of this gives an initial outlook of the play, and the audience can see that conflict will be a major theme. In the rest of "Macbeth" we have seen this conflict in the form of light and darkness. These symbolise good and evil, and helps the audience to visualise the conflict between these two beings. This conflict is shown very well in the 1977 RSC version of "Macbeth". The producer had set the opening scene in darkness, with bright spotlights. This is to show us the good light surrounded by the dark evil. With good and evil together, we are shown conflict, but the evil appears to be winning. To mention Macbeth and conflict together also tells us the probability that Macbeth will be involved in this conflict. ...read more.

Middle

His thoughts are again on murder. This is shown in the lexical field of the passage. The lexical field includes words such as "horrid image", "horrible imaginings", "murder", "suggestion" and "Surmise". All these words show that he is considering murder, but at this stage his conscience is fighting these thoughts. This fight is shown again in Banquo's repetitive description of Macbeth being "rapt", but also in Macbeth saying: "If chance will have me king, why chance will crown me king Without my stir." Here the audience can notice that deep down he wants to leave his future in the hands of chance, which is personified as a person who would crown the king. We know that this is true, but we also can identify that deeper down ambition and impatience are strong. They would want his destiny to come faster. What is also worrying is the fact that Macbeth seems to see kingship just as a crown. We know that there is more to being a king than wearing a crown, as there are other qualities a king needs to have. The audience can also observe in this extract another clothing image. They can see that maybe the crown of a king might fit Macbeth, but not the other garments. Another clothing image is used in Banquo's speech as well: "New honours come upon him Like our strange garments, cleave not to their mould But with aid of use." Here the viewers can distinguish that Banquo can see Macbeth is uncomfortable. With the use of the clothing image he helps the audience to visualise this. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore he does not totally agree with it. As he doesn't agree with it he knows that he must become deceitful, and he must hide his guilt: "False face must hide what the false heart doth know." He is convinced that he must become deceitful, and he must hide it. The audience can again see the irony of this relating back to Duncan's line where he says: "There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face." In conclusion I can see that in Act One of "Macbeth", the character of Macbeth had declined greatly. He started out as a brave and heroic warrior, who was noble and comfortable in his role. Through the influence of many evil beings his comfort diminished, and his state of mind declined. The influences that conspired to bring out this change were the witches and their predictions. They were intent on causing disruption in Macbeth's life, by giving power to his ambition and impatience. The other main influence that conspired to bring out his change was Lady Macbeth. This woman of evil desired the power of a queen. To get this power she used dark spirits and the valour of her tongue to manipulate Macbeth's mind. This pushed him towards murder. The effect of these influences on Macbeth had great power over him. They unleashed an ambition and impatience that was within him, which gave him a great desire to become king. The once comfortable, heroic character has become a totally irredeemable man, with little good still within him. He wants to become king as soon as possible so I believe he will embrace the evil, and use it to gain power. 1 Holly Phillips ...read more.

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