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Describe the character of Macbeth in detail, showing clearly in what way his character changes as a result of the action of the play.

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Introduction

MACBETH ESSAY 1 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 - honest; noble; valiant; brave; loyal * End - "butcher"; not honest, loyal; still brave and prepared to fight till his death - "at least we'll die with harness on our back"; he has become cruel and hardened - "I have almost forgotten the taste of fear". 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 can't stop * Macbeth kills Macduff's family - turning point for L. Macbeth - 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 - "there to meet with Macbeth". 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 - "oh valiant cousin, worthy gentleman", "they smack of honour both" * Although it may seem ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth knows that people have "golden opinions" 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 "cast aside so soon". 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 - "I have no spur...but only vaulting ambition". 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 - "is this a dagger I see before me...or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation?", and he imagines actually killing Duncan - "I see...gouts of blood". He thinks that "nature seems dead" and he thinks of wolfs, ghosts, and witches - 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 - "sleep no more: Macbeth does murder sleep" and he cannot wash the blood stains off his hands - "will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No", to which his wife replies, "a little water clears us of this deed" (only to prove herself wrong later). ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth knows he is going to die when he hears that Birnam wood is moving toward Dunsinane but still he is brave - "bear-like I must fight the course". 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 - "at least we'll die with harness on our back". Macbeth is truly a tragic hero as he had many of the qualities needed to be king - 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 "Life'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 nothing". ...read more.

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