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By referring closely to Act 1 and Act 2, scene 1, examine how ‘noble Macbeth’, ‘a peerless kinsman’ turns into Duncan’s murderer.

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Introduction

By referring closely to Act 1 and Act 2, scene 1, examine how 'noble Macbeth', 'a peerless kinsman' turns into Duncan's murderer. Macbeth was written in 1606 for King James 1st. It was, politically, an excellent play for James because it showed how heinous the crime regicide was. Even though James was the first monarch of the Stuart dynasty, the play frequently refers to the Tudor Chain of Being, which laid out the importance of someone, in comparison to everyone else. It started with the King (at the top) and worked its way down to the ants. When someone upset the Tudor Chain of Being, which Macbeth does, the whole natural order was overthrown. For example, directly after Duncan's murder, there is a reference to a falcon being killed by an owl: "A flacon...was by a mousing owl...killed." Act 2, Scene 4, lines 12-13. The 16th century people were very superstitious and would not have dared to try and upset the Tudor Chain of Being because they would have directly usurped God's decision and would, therefore, bring about his wrath. James also believed in the Divine Right of Kings. This simply meant that the King was God's representative on Earth and whatever he did was Divinely influenced. "The Lord's anointed temple..." Act 2, Scene 3, line 65. The play revolves around the fact that Macbeth committed regicide. In the end when he is brutally slain by Macduff, the social and political messages that are communicated to the audience are that: crime never pays, and that even if you dare commit a crime as heinous as regicide, vengeance shall be had, in this life or the next. Shakespeare had to change many things in order to keep James happy. In the play, Duncan was a good king and Macbeth was a tyrant who ruled for a few months. However, in real life, Duncan was a bad king and Macbeth was a strong one who ruled for 17 years. ...read more.

Middle

He decides to do something about it. This inconvenience is but: "A step that I must o'erleap". He now knows he has to be evil. He calls upon the stars to: "hide there fires", reflecting on blackness and evil acts. We see this mirrored when Lady Macbeth calls upon the spirits to unsex her. This is a recurring image in the play. He asks his eyes to be blind to the hand that does the deed. This entire speech is two rhyming couplets that emphasise Macbeth's decision to act. The words used are mostly punchy monosyllables, that build up speed to give the image of impending action. The last sentence of the scene is of Duncan saying that Macbeth is: "a peerless kinsman". Shakespeare is using more dramatic irony as Macbeth has just resolved to kill him! Is Macbeth still a noble kinsman, or has he changed? I do not think that he changes until after the murder when Lady Macbeth and he trade places. Until then he is struggling with himself whether to go through with it. He may have even considered murder before. When he firsts meets his wife and tells her he wants no part in the murder of Duncan she asks: "What...made you break this enterprise to me?" Also Macbeth's first thoughts were of murder. He even hints of murder before Lady Macbeth gets to give her input. In scene 5, Macbeth hints towards murder with these words: "Tomorrow as he purposes." We are concerned for him and his wellbeing. However, in Macbeth's second soliloquy, he fights with the decision. He is a warrior after all and this should be easy. He is Duncan's friend, subject and kinsman. Unfortunately, this is the hardest battle he has ever had to face. The battle against himself. There is use of alliteration. For example, in the first two lines there is repetition of W's, T's and D's. ...read more.

Conclusion

He sees a dagger, an apparition, leading him to Duncan's room. He says he cannot touch it but that it is a replica of: "this which now I draw". He exclaims that thoughts of murder are playing tricks on him. He says that evil things happen in the night. "With Tarquin's ravishing strides", (Tarquin raped his hostess in the dead of night). He moves stealthily for fear of Duncan being awake when he goes to his room. A bell rings and he finishes his soliloquy by saying: "hear it not Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven or hell". He is still moral in the sense that he wants Duncan never to know what took place, and the pair of rhyming couplets finishes his thoughts on the matter. I would like to conclude that there were three major influences that turned Macbeth from a valiant and courageous warrior into a sordid low-life. The first was the witches who only tempted him to what we are led to believe he always wanted. The second was Lady Macbeth who manipulated his mind into seeing her point of view as the only point of view, and finally Macbeth's influence on himself. In all his soliloquies we see the magnificence of his soul and, every time we do, it seems to have grown less magnificent and more disturbed, more turbulent. Macbeth is probably Shakespeare's most likeable tragic-hero because no matter what happens to him we always want him to come out all right in the end. However, Shakespeare makes it thoroughly clear that if you kill the King, or even have a hand in the plot, it will haunt you until your dying day, which will probably be very unpleasant seeing as Lady Macbeth committed suicide and Macbeth had his head chopped off. My conclusion is that the largest influence on Macbeth was himself. The line that sums that up for me is, "Stars hide you fires, let not light see my black and deep desires".So, like Macbeth, I will finish on a pair of rhyming couplets. ...read more.

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