• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss how the character of Macbeth changes in the course of the play. How significant are the witches in contributing to this change?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss how the character of Macbeth changes in the course of the play. How significant are the witches in contributing to this change? The supernatural was viewed much more seriously in Shakespeare's day than it is at present. King James I was fascinated by witchcraft, even writing a book about trials of alleged witches he had witnessed and his own personal belief in the supernatural. He was a self confessed scorner of witches, an opinion assumed by much of seventeenth century Britain. This loathing was born out of fear and ignorance; as people believed that witches could possess a human's mind, body or spirit, whether dead or alive. They also believed that a man could be made impotent, or face sudden death at the hands of a witch. Witches were believed to control the fate and luck of mortals, mostly causing diseases and illnesses for some kind of malicious fun. An estimated 65,000 alleged witches were executed in the fifteen, sixteen and seventeen hundreds; witch-hunting finally ended in Britain in 1716. Shakespeare portrays the witches in 'Macbeth' as very uncivilised, discourteous creatures in dire need of a wash. Banquo, Macbeth's long-time comrade and fellow battle hero, addresses the witches '...you should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so.' The witches in the play are clearly not glamorous creatures, but neither are they beings born completely out of fantasy. ...read more.

Middle

Lady Macbeth undeniably knows what is going on in her husband's mind; this is yet more proof that Macbeth tells her everything, and so respects and trusts her. Lady Macbeth accuses her husband of having a 'Heart so pale,' as Kings were elected in Shakespeare's times, Macbeth's reputation is key to his becoming king. For a soldier, being accused of having a 'pale' heart is a great insult and nobody would think to elect a king who is cowardly and weak. Because of this, Macbeth takes the insult to heart and decides that he must murder Duncan to prove to himself, as much as to his wife, that he doesn't have a 'pale' heart. Whilst Macbeth is trying to summon the courage to kill King Duncan, he appears to be quite deranged. He thinks he sees a dagger floating in front of him 'Is this a dagger I see before me...?' His hallucination shows that his subconscious thoughts are of murder and deceit. He knows he must kill Duncan, he is just frantically trying to find a loophole that will allow him to become king without murdering his cousin. His self-questioning is proof of his tortured soul, driven by ambition and love for his wife. Once Macbeth has killed King Duncan, he appears to be in a state of shock, in modern times this would be understandable, but seventeenth century Scotland was a very violent place where murder was seen as a way of life. ...read more.

Conclusion

Whilst fighting Macduff, Macbeth is angry that the prophecy has come true; he is arrogant enough to believe that he can still believe that he can still defeat Macduff. Macbeth started out as a well-respected battle hero who kept his head down and did what he was told. He did not have great ambitions and he was loyal to his king. After he meets the witches he is possessed by a driving ambition, which motivates him to kill his king, his best friend, and the wife and children of a former acquaintance. At the end of the play he is shown to be an arrogant, uncaring man who found it inconvenient that his wife died at a certain time. I believe that this change can be directly attributed to the witches as he would not have had any real ambition of becoming king before he met them. His wife had a lot of influence over him, but I don't think she would have dared suggest murdering the king, had Macbeth not implied that it could be done. This idea of Lady Macbeth being portrayed as the evil temptress dates back to the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit. I think the play is suggesting that witches are an unnecessary evil which man has the power to vanquish. This idea would have greatly pleased James I as he himself hated witches and organised unfair trials for them. Word count: 2,356 Jamie Sellick 25/03/2008 Macbeth coursework 10h1 Mrs Hearle ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. How does Lady Macbeth Change During The Course Of The Play 'Macbeth'.

    She could faint because of the shock of Macbeth's vivid descriptions, the murder itself or the following murders of the guards (She had only prepared for Duncan's murder and was not expecting anyone else to be killed) are proving too much stress for her to take, or she's remaining entirely

  2. Using Macbeth's soliloquies and speeches, show how the character changes throughout the course of ...

    At this stage in the play they have a very close relationship and Macbeth is largely influenced by his wife. It is Lady Macbeth who he confides in over the witches prophecies and who he first discusses killing Duncan with.

  1. How does Macbeths Character change during the play

    do it, and when the dagger changes to being bloody it is Macbeth's conscience telling him that his dagger will look like the one he sees before him with spots of blood when he has done the deed on it and that this act will have consequences.

  2. Lady Macbeth's Character in Macbeth.

    Speak I charge you." (I.3. 75-8) Here he urges the witches to explain more, but they disappear. Like Macbeth, the audience is also intrigued to hear that Macbeth is to become the next "Thane of Cawdor". Therefore, this particular prophecy has appeared to be true.

  1. 'Macbeth' gives us a classic example of the literary definition of a 'tragic hero'. ...

    Malcolm's decision to promote a number of young, ambitious thanes and kinsmen could again give rise to the tragic events that we have just witnessed. One of the promoted noblemen may be the next scourge of the people. The ending of the play leaves us with a very anxious concern regarding the very vulnerable nature of order and civilisation.

  2. How is Lady Macbeth presented by Shakespeare? In what ways does she change throughout ...

    We see discreet biblical references within the Captain's words when speaking of Macbeth, he talks of Golgotha, the hill upon which Jesus was said to be crucified. Whether he is comparing Macbeth to such a man is not completely certain, though it could be seen as an exaggerated compliment towards Macbeth and his willingness to fight for his cause.

  1. How does the supernatural influence the character of Macbeth during the course of the ...

    It is they who brought the destruction and downfall of Macbeth. We are first introduced to the witches in the beginning of the scene. After our brief introduction with the witches, we get terrible thoughts of them. This is because through their language and how the setting has takenplace.

  2. The changes in Macbeth's character

    Lady Macbeth is comparing Macbeth to a cat by saying that a cat would want a fish but would not want to get its feet wet which is exactly what Macbeth is doing- he wants to be king but does not want to partake in the massacre of King Duncan.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work