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How does the character of Macbeth develop throughout the play?

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Introduction

The character of Macbeth How does the character of Macbeth develop throughout the play? Use the timelines to remind yourself about the key events of the play. We focus first on Macbeth's changing thoughts and feelings up till the banquet and then move on to the aftermath. We have chosen quotations to support the points made, but try to find other examples yourself to use in your essays. 1. The witches (Act 1, Scene 3) - Why do the witches' prophecies have so much power over Macbeth? 2. Before the murder (Act 1, Scene 7) - Did Macbeth really want to kill Duncan? 3. The morning after the murder (Act 2, Scene 3)-What state of mind is Macbeth in after the murder? 4. The banquet (Act 3, Scene 4)- Why is Macbeth so tense and anxious as he enters the banquet? 5. What is the effect of the ghost on Macbeth? 6. Lady Macbeth's death (Act 5, Scene 5) - How is Macbeth affected when he learns of his wife's death? Look at how quickly Macbeth goes from being a loyal, honorable soldier and husband to a vicious, desperate tyrant. The witches (Act 1, Scene 3) - Why do the witches' prophecies have so much power over Macbeth? Macbeth and Banquo hear the same words - but they react in very different ways. ...read more.

Middle

In this scene he actually shows a strange mixture, and it is hard to tell sometimes because his speech is so ambiguous (it could have more than one meaning). Fear and shock: 'Twas a rough night.' (II, iii) At the start of the scene, Macbeth is tense and edgy. He is trapped between the door and Lennox's speech, and seems unable to say more than brief, formal statements. Guilt and regret for the murder: 'Had I but died an hour before this chance I had lived a blessed time.' (II, iii) Some of his words suggest he is feeling these emotions. How does the character of Macbeth develop throughout the play? Use the timeline to remind yourself about the key events of the play and Macbeth's changing thoughts and feelings, before working through some important questions about Macbeth's character. We have chosen quotations to support the points made, but try to find other examples yourself to use in your essays. Look at how quickly Macbeth goes from being a loyal, faithful subject and husband to a vicious, desperate tyrant. The banquet (Act 3, Scene 4)- Why is Macbeth so tense and anxious as he enters the banquet? It's important to think about this point because it will help you to understand how his mind could conjure up the terrible image of the ghost. ...read more.

Conclusion

to the weird sisters: More shall they speak; for I am bent to know, By the worst means, the worst.' (III, iv) This is a real turning point. It's as if he gives up trying to control things, and makes up his mind to go back to the witches. It's an admission he is beaten. We seem to know that the play will end tragically from this point. Lady Macbeth's death (Act 5, Scene 5) - How is Macbeth affected when he learns of his wife's death? Macbeth seems suddenly weary when Lady Macbeth dies. 'She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day...' (V, v) His reaction is strange - very quiet, subdued and thoughtful. His power and motivation seem to vanish: '...[life] is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.' (V, v) It's as if Macbeth no longer sees any point trying to hold on to the kingship. He cannot understand why he ever wanted it. He realises this is the end and that his own death is near: 'And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death.' It seems that no matter what happens now, he can never return to that happier time before he was poisoned by ambition. He dares each man on the battlefield to kill him in the face of his seemingly infallible prophecy, until Macduff proves to be the exception and beheads him. ...read more.

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