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Does Shakespeare portray Macbeth as a monster or a victim?

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Introduction

Does Shakespeare portray Macbeth as a monster or a victim? Macbeth was written by Shakespeare between 1606-1611. The story takes place in Scotland, where a brave soldier 'Macbeth' is predicted to become king. After being urged on by his wife, Macbeth kills the king and claims his right to the throne. After a few days' people begin to become suspicious and eventually Macbeth has is comeuppance. Shakespeare wrote in a time where women were inferior to men, people lived in a patriarchal society. So many of his plays resulted in a young boy playing the part of what would have been a woman. Shakespeare gripped audiences with compelling plays such as Romeo and Juliet which combine the sad story of death, with the emotional portrayal of a first love. In many of Shakespeare's plays intriguing love stories become tangles up in violence, deceit and anger. Out of all his plays, 'Macbeth' captivated and still does huge audiences. The way Shakespeare gets the audience to sympathize with a cold blooded murdered is truly great. Reading through the first pages Shakespeare portrays Macbeth as a courageous warrior with huge respect from his fellow soldiers. However this image does not last long as Macbeth is introduced to the three evil witches. They convince him he will become King and Macbeths shift in character starts from there. ...read more.

Middle

But the witches only predicted that Macbeth will somehow become king, not how he will claim the throne. Lady Macbeth is unlike any other women of her time. Women were inferior to men, Lady Macbeth commanded and bullied here supposed superior. At the time of the play, a little boy would have taken the role of Lady Macbeth. You can tell this because when Lady Macbeth calls for the spirits to "Unsex me here" Act 1 scene 5 line 308 It makes the line more believable to the audience as she is already male. Lady Macbeth try's to persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan calling him a coward and saying he is weak. She is effectively saying to Macbeth that he doesn't have the courage to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth try's to calm Macbeth down by saying to him "Look the gentle flower, but be the serpent inert" Act 1 scene 5 line 316. This means that you should not look at the innocent hero on top but be the evil serpent underneath at heart. When describing Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare touches upon vast images of blood. This is a good technique as you can associate Lady Macbeth with all sorts of terrible things. Lady Macbeth knows that the evidence of blood is a treacherous symbol, and knows it will deflect the guilt from her and Macbeth to the servants when she says "Smear the sleepy grooms withe blood.", and "If he do bleed, I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt." ...read more.

Conclusion

This sparks a hasty reaction from Macbeth as he has Macduffs family killed. "Give to th'edge o' th sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line" Act 4, scene 1, lines 86-90 Shakespeare really emphasizes the evil in Macbeth, having sympathized with him previously the reader now views Macbeth as a cold blooded murderer. I think this is what Shakespeare wanted, the reader to judge whether Macbeth can be forgiven for his cowardly acts. Overall I think that Shakespeare wants us to believe that Macbeth is a monster. I think this because the killing spree embarks on towards the end has no defence. The witches may have tricked him into doing certain things, but most men would be brave enough to stand up in the face of evil. This portrays Macbeth as being a cowardly man and performing things rather unlike himself. I think that Lady Macbeth is seen in a negative light due to the simple imagery Shakespeare used when talking about her "There is no light, thee one half world" Act 1, scene 5, line 33 Darkness here can be seen to represent evil, which usually ties in when Lady Macbeth is around. Overall Shakespeare's Macbeth combines an eloquent tale of portrayal, deceit and murder with the gripping inner story of one mans lust for power. It is a great tale which the leading character is show in two lights- a monster and a victim. I enjoyed reading this play, and I hope to continue reading Shakespeare other pieces. Sean Melody 10W ...read more.

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