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Examine carefully, referring to the text whenever necessary, the changes that occur in Macbeth's character, outlook and ideas during the course of Act 1.

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Introduction

Examine carefully, referring to the text whenever necessary, the changes that occur in Macbeth's character, outlook and ideas during the course of Act 1. Macbeth, the tragedy, is a penetrating, intense, and chilling study of ambition. We see the main character; Macbeth changing from a man of deep morality and honesty and a loyal soldier of the Scottish king to a murderous tyrant, urged on by his wife and foretold by prophecy to commit regicide in order to gain power. His insatiable appetite for domination and his proactive nature sets off a chain of events, which only leads to his downfall. Deeming he and his wife naught but the "dead butcher and his fiend like queen". However, this final analogy is a product of circumstantial change of his character, ideas, and outlook made evident from the first act. In Act one Scene 1, the Witches arrange to meet Macbeth after the conclusion of a battle that is in progress, this scene establishes the atmosphere of mystery and horror and introduces the underlying forces that will control the action of the play. Indeed they can even foresee the future, "When the battles lost and won", they evidently know what the outcome of the battle will be and their enigmatic speech suggests that they are in touch with knowledge denied to ordinary mortals. The Witches' condensed phrasing of "lost and won" implies something more than the more obvious fact of the battle in progress, and the close connection of "winning" and "losing" might suggest that the two are in fact indistinguishable, that what seems to be success is really failure, as Macbeth discovers. The Witches already have an interest in Macbeth, "There to meet with Macbeth." This suggests that Macbeth is no longer a free agent and is under their evil influence, implying that he is no longer in control of his destiny and that it is clear from the very start that, the Witches are able to control Macbeth's moods, feelings and his ideas. ...read more.

Middle

He would be mortified, demoralised and crushed, but those feelings would turn quickly into one of, anger, wrath, and seething rage. In Macbeth's soliloquy, there is a grim determination of a man who is about to risk it all, his honours, and his praises, which he has deservedly gained for the ultimate honour of kingship that he can now obtain only by deceitful murder. The tension of steeling himself to murder is increasing the disintegration of his personality; if he could, he would conceal his intentions even from himself, The eye wink at the hand. Yet let that be, Which the eye fears when it is done to see. (51-52) Indeed the last two lines of his soliloquy convey in graphic clarity of his bitterness and his evil intent, "Stars hide your fires, let not light see my deep and dark desires." Furthermore, we will believe that he will carry out the deed, because, "In soliloquy lies truth." In Scene 5, we see that as soon as Macbeth enters the castle Lady Macbeth echoes the formal threefold greeting the Witches have given him. She ignores his recent victories and begins to, "pour her spirits in thine ear," by preventing him from thinking of anything but the promise of the throne. Their brief conversation is highly charged and is full of passion and force by Lady Macbeth, but one must notice that Macbeth has seemingly on the long ride home, to have lost most of his "deep and dark desires," and some of his resolution as he had shown in the end of Scene 4. We can deduce that, because he is quieter than before, and he manages only three lines in the whole scene, and seems to have calmed down a lot. Indeed even his wife can see that he has lost some of his desire, by commenting on his facial expressions, "Your face my thane, is a book where men may read strange matters." ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Macbeth has reversed Macbeth's resolve, but what is more worrying, is that, Macbeth in that moment made the decision contrary to his carefully set out debate, meaning that he does not stop and think out what to do. Lady Macbeth has managed to change Macbeth's conviction by the sheer weight of her persuasive arguments and the seeming simplicity of her murderous plans, and indeed, you could say that he is so subjugated by his wife's scorn and so persuaded by her encouragement that he is willing to murder the sovereign king. However, when we see that when Macbeth is alone and has time to think things through, he is a person with a deep conscience as well as a desire to succeed. However, it is when his wife spurs him on, he becomes much more charged with ambition and it is he who often overlooks conscience for worldly desires. Therefore, we see, the development of Macbeth's character and his ideas, from a war hero, widely regarded as the saviour of Scotland, to his dreams of power and ecstatic stupor, on being told he will be king. We then see a enraged, and deeply betrayed man as he plans for the murder of Duncan, but we then see a much more calmer approach to the subject, before deciding for himself that it is best to leave the act undone and to resign it to its natural path. We also see his weakness in determining for himself as we see Lady Macbeth's argument crushes Macbeth's carefully laid plan, before again his swing back to hatred and bracing for the murder of the sovereign king. His outlook and ideas change widely and there is some very big mood swings, e.g. from Scene 4 to Scene 5 and Scene 7. He changes according to circumstances but his proactive nature sets off a chain of events eventually leading to his own downfall. PHILIP XIU MACBETH COURSEWORK 12 ...read more.

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