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How does Shakespeare show the destruction of Macbeth's character from "valour's minion" to "this dead butcher"? How would the audience of Shakespeare's time have responded to this?

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Introduction

How does Shakespeare show the destruction of Macbeth's character from "valour's minion" to "this dead butcher"? How would the audience of Shakespeare's time have responded to this? At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed by Shakespeare as a noble soldier who is brave enough to fight for his country and slay King Duncan's opponents. He is spirited and obedient, like a dog to its master. Shakespeare introduces Macbeth in a victorious scene, where he is shown as a "valiant" hero and that becomes a platform for Shakespeare to delineate the disintegration of Macbeth's character, contrasting the start of the play with his satanic attitude at the end of the play. The structure of the plot is organised in this way to make a formidable impact on the audience, as "brave Macbeth" turns completely evil right in front of their eyes. In Act 1 Scene 1, Shakespeare uses visual evil symbolism to create a wicked, malicious atmosphere. The play commences with three beastly witches, dressed in black, hooded cloaks and with gruesome faces to disturb and horrify the audience. The audience in Shakespearean times would have been greatly influenced by them because they strongly believed in the supernatural world and the sight of these witches would have been chilling. This scene creates a corrupt atmosphere; a perfect atmosphere to accompany the tragic hero. This scene also uses lots of foul imagery, for example, the stage directions are thunder and lightning. ...read more.

Middle

He ushers everyone to bed and in a manic state asks himself, "Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?" Shakespeare uses a visionary dagger to symbolise the psychological torment Macbeth is hugely suffering from. Macbeth's imagination is running wilder than a herd of antelope escaping from a pack of lions and this shows how ambition and lust for power can affect your mind. After the murder, Shakespeare shows clear disorder, mostly in Macbeth's head, as Macbeth is haunted by noises supposedly made by the drunken guards. He knows that what he has done is deeply sinful, as he still has his honest virtues, but his morality has been badly affected by this and continues to worsen from now on. He realises, not only that he will "sleep no more", as sleep is for the innocent, but also envies the fact that Duncan can experience an eternal and peaceful rest; this envy is in contrast to Macbeth's previous envy of Duncan's throne. Here, Shakespeare portrays how jealousy cannot disappear, but it can grow, as Macbeth has found out. Later in the play, Macbeth savagely slays his guards before anyone has a chance to question them. This is another example of Macbeth's unholy character and shows that he is finding murdering easier to fulfil than before. Shakespeare adds this into the scene to infuriate the audience and make them realise how his wife, as well as his inner ambition and greed have so dramatically changed him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macduff's response to Macbeth reflects the anger of the audience, as he ruthlessly slays Macbeth and shouts "My voice is in my sword, thou bloodier villain than terms can give thee out!" and the audience would have enjoyed watching this. Macduff is saying that there are no words that can describe how awful Macbeth is and this is a complete contrast to the beginning, when King Duncan couldn't find a word nice enough to describe Macbeth. Malcolm repeats this fury, which would be hugely encouraged by the audience, as he describes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as "this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen". The Shakespearean audience would be cheering wildly at the end of this "hell-hound's" life and would be glad to see this tragic, but deeply satisfying ending. In conclusion, Macbeth changes from an ambitious man of strong moral sense to a monstrous man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. By the play's end, Macbeth has lost all emotion and has turned from a fine natured person to an incredibly evil person. His ambition to be king and strong belief in the witches' prophecies had brought him to a tragic end of his own life, and also caused the deaths of many others. Shakespeare has used several techniques, including language and dramatic contrast to re-enforce various different themes into the scenes. Both regicides are the climaxes of the play and the audience would be horrified to see a heroic figure degenerate in the way he does. Melanie West 10F ...read more.

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