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How does Macbeth's state of mind deteriorate and how is this shown in the play?

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Introduction

'How does Macbeth's state of mind deteriorate and how is this shown in the play?' In William Shakespeare's tragic play 'Macbeth', the state of mind of the main character, Macbeth, deteriorates throughout the play as we see the transformation of Macbeth, from hero to villain. He goes from being a tyrant due to his ruthless ambition to be King, spurred on by some interfering witches putting ideas into his head by predicting that he will be King and Lady Macbeth, his bossy wife. This happens because of a fatal flaw, Macbeth feels guilty about the murders he has committed so his mind deteriorates throughout the play, and slowly the locked up guilt drives him mad. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Banquo are told to have been fighting in the battle. Macbeth is then hailed as brave Macbeth, as a hero because he has killed the rebel McDonald and is continuing to face the Norwegian troops successfully. Then we are told that Macbeth has triumphed again capturing the traitor Cawdor, obtaining ransom and a favourable peace treaty from the King of Norway. 'For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name -' is used by a Sergeant to describe his actions in battle. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth has now decided that he will not kill Duncan. He tells Lady Macbeth that they will proceed no further and the reasons he gives her for this is are - 'He hath honoured me of late, and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people, Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, Not cast aside so soon.' He does not wish to throw away his reputation so quickly. Lady Macbeth gets extremely angry with him. However, he doesn't tell her of the argument he has just had with himself giving powerful reasons why he shouldn't murder Duncan. Lady Macbeth accuses him of being too scared, a coward, and lacking manliness- 'And live a coward in thine own esteem,' She continues to taunt him in this manner but he does not retaliate and argue with her, it seems he is quite scared of her as he lets her talk to him in this manner. She successfully makes him feel guilty by telling him that she would kill her own child rather then break such a promise and how much he has disappointed her. Lady Macbeth has talked Macbeth into the murder again by making him feel guilty and damaging his ego and pride with the taunts. ...read more.

Conclusion

Back in the 11th century, it was quite acceptable to kill people in battles, and still be looked upon as a hero. If Macbeth had been set in modern times, he would have been a villain all along. Due to the fact that it was set hundreds of years ago, he was a considered a hero at the start of the play and only looked upon as a villain when he started to kill people for selfish reasons and self gain. Throughout the play, the soliloquies reveal Macbeth's change from a valiant Thane, to a guilt-stricken King. After he commits the deed, his entire conscience is consumed with the guilt of what he has done, and this is where his character is flawed and leads to his eventual breakdown. So Macbeths fatal flaw is his conscience causing the guilt he feels for the evil deeds he has carried out. The collapse of character is brought on by the small, yet fatal flaw within themselves, whereby they can no longer live with themselves, and they give up on life altogether. In the end conclusion, I believe that he was a villain all along, but it only became clear towards the end when he was found out. However, the only reason he was found out was because of his fatal flaw - the guilt - that causes his state of mind to deteriorate displayed in the soliloquies. ...read more.

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