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In Shakespeare's tragic story Macbeth, The character of Macbeth undergoes many changes.

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Introduction

In Shakespeare's tragic story Macbeth, The character of Macbeth undergoes many changes. From the opening act up until the curtains close Macbeth's character is slowly tainted socially, and also psychologically. In the first scene Shakespeare paints a picture of Macbeth as being courageous, loyal, brave and well respected. Toward the end, however, Macbeth decomposes into a cowardly, materialistic tyrant, loathed by all of his people. As the story progresses, Macbeth becomes more and more desensitized to the world around him, and even loses his sense of reality and the meaning of life.The story illustrates the failure of Macbeth, and also how the relationships he shares with the people around him change. The greatest change is the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The downfall begins with Banquo and Macbeth's meeting with the 3 witches. The witches prophesize that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor, and also that Macbeth will be king one day. They call Banquo "lesser than Macbeth, and greater," and "not so happy, yet much happier"; and they also tell Banquo that he will never be a king, but he will have heirs to the throne. Macbeth is very shocked by their prophecies, and when the first prediction comes true and he is named the Thane of Cawdor, it leaves him wanting more. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth - Because we first hear of Macbeth in the wounded captain's account of his battlefield valor, our initial impression is of a brave and capable warrior. This perspective is complicated, however, once we see Macbeth interact with the three witches. We realize that his physical courage is joined by a consuming ambition and a tendency to self-doubt-the prediction that he will be king brings him joy, but it also creates inner turmoil. These three attributes-bravery, ambition, and self-doubt-struggle for mastery of Macbeth throughout the play. Shakespeare uses Macbeth to show the terrible effects that ambition and guilt can have on a man who lacks strength of character. We may classify Macbeth as irrevocably evil, but his weak character separates him from Shakespeare's great villains-Iago in Othello, Richard III in Richard III, Edmund in King Lear-who are all strong enough to conquer guilt and self-doubt. Macbeth, great warrior though he is, is ill equipped for the psychic consequences of crime. Before he kills Duncan, Macbeth is plagued by worry and almost aborts the crime. It takes Lady Macbeth's steely sense of purpose to push him into the deed. After the murder, however, her powerful personality begins to disintegrate, leaving Macbeth increasingly alone. ...read more.

Conclusion

the most famous speeches in all of Shakespeare-that the audience realizes how completely his wife's passing and the ruin of his power have undone Macbeth. His speech insists that there is no meaning or purpose in life. Rather, life "is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing." One can easily understand how, with his wife dead and armies marching against him, Macbeth succumbs to such pessimism. Yet, there is also a defensive and self-justifying quality to his words. If everything is meaningless, then Macbeth's awful crimes are somehow made less awful, because, like everything else, they too "signify nothing."Macbeth's statement that "[l]ife's but a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage" can be read as Shakespeare's somewhat deflating reminder of the illusionary nature of the theater. After all, Macbeth is only a "player" himself, strutting on an Elizabethan stage. In any play, there is a conspiracy of sorts between the audience and the actors, as both pretend to accept the play's reality. Macbeth's comment calls attention to this conspiracy and partially explodes it-his nihilism embraces not only his own life but the entire play. If we take his words to heart, the play, too, can be seen as an event "full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing." ...read more.

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