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In this essay, I will be divulging into 'Macbeth' written by William Shakespeare in 1603, to try and answer the question 'Was Macbeth a true hero or villain in the play?'.

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Introduction

Cornelius Marney Macbeth: Hero or Villain In this essay, I will be divulging into 'Macbeth' written by William Shakespeare in 1603, to try and answer the question 'Was Macbeth a true hero or villain in the play?'. Macbeth is a play of villainy, murder, deceit and oftenly described as a 'play fit for a king'. In my personal opinion, the evidence from Shakespeare's original text and Roman Polanski's video version strongly suggests that Macbeth was a true villain rather than a hero. An example of his villainy is the fact that Macbeth assassinated his King to thrust himself to power in Act 1, Scene 2. A second example is when Macbeth sends murderers to kill the family of Macduff, a nobleman of Scotland, in Act 4, Scene 2. Although I strongly believe that Macbeth is a villain, there is much evidence that does suggest that Macbeth was in fact a hero. This evidence is mainly shown in the opening scenes of the play, where we see Macbeth leading Scotland to defeat against Norway as General of the King's army. Here, his heroic qualities are shown when Macduff refers to Macbeth as 'Brave Macbeth'. The initial evidence in both the text and the video that suggests the view that Macbeth is a hero mainly takes place in the opening scenes of the play, Act 1, Scene 1 through to Scene 4. These scenes basically show or refer to a battle between Scotland and Norway. In these scenes, Macbeth is shown as General of the King's army, who victoriously led his King and country to defeat against Norway. The view that Macbeth was a hero at this point is evident when a sergeant who was present at the battlefield refers to Macbeth's braveness and courage when reporting to King Duncan concerning Macbeth's absolute immense acts in battle. An extremely supportive quote made by Macduff, a fellow nobleman of Scotland, which again supports the view that Macbeth was a courageous, heroic man is stated below. ...read more.

Middle

The period in which 'Macbeth' was written was one of superstition and fear, mainly due to the strong held beliefs of witches and witchcraft. Witches were believed to have incredible 'super natural' powers and abilities, such as being able to alter the weather, able to 'fly on brooms' and most significantly able to glance into and prophesise the future. In fact, witches were believed to be of such an importance at this period of time, the monarch of England, King James, ordered all to be executed who were practising witchcraft or suspected to be. In 'Macbeth', Macbeth and his loyal fellow General and best friend Banquo are approached on return from battle by three 'foul' women, who are witches. The witches prophesise to Macbeth that he would be awarded the title 'Thane of Cawdor' and eventually King of Scotland in a series of chants showed below. "All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis" "All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor" "All hail Macbeth, that shall be king hereafter" The Witches, Act 1, Scene 3 I feel that this is such a major turning point for Macbeth's character as this is the first time in which the thought of being King has entered his mind. The witches also prophisise to Banquo that himself will not be king, but his children will. This itself is evidence which shows Macbeth's growing villainous qualities, and the influence the witches have had upon him. Banquo seems to be totally unconvinced and amused by the witches predictions, whereas Macbeth is in a state of pensive thought and disbelief. Yet, he soon after does not show these immediate feelings to Banquo, as the pair amuse themselves whilst discussing the encounter, which shows Macbeth to be a facade. When Macbeth is told of the news by a messenger known as Ross, he is again in a state of disbelief and shock, as is Banquo as he says to Macbeth 'can the devils be true?'. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Act 5, Scene 1, Lady Macbeth is now mad and riddled with guilt. We see Lady Macbeth sleep walkig, pacing her bedroom, stopping only trying to wash 'blood' off her hands, even though they are clean. In fact, Lady Macbeth is re-acting the night of the murder of King Duncan as she sleep walks. Throughout the play, Lady Macbeth had been portrayed as being a strong, dominating and cold character, whereasat this point she seems to be weak and unable to relieve herself of the guilt of Duncan's murder. This scene also shows to us that Lady Macbeth herself is starting to believe that her husband is now a true villain and that his villany is spiraling out of control. The below quote refers to the 'mass murder' in which Macbeth is condeming, and how she feels that it has spiraled to an extreme level. "No more o' that, my lord, no more o' that" Lady Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 1, Line 44 Act 5, Scene 8 sees Macbeth have been killed by Macduff who has returned to Scotland with Duncan's son, Malcolm, and a strong English army. It is my personal opinion that the end of play saw Macbeth basically get his comeuppance, as the person in which Macbeth had turned into, mainly due to his overwhelming ambiton and the dominance and persuasion of Lady Macbeth, was a character of evil and greediness. I personally that Macbeth did not actually take the route of villainy and strongly regretted it afterwards, yet he could not find the strength to be able stop himself. Saying this, I still agree with my original interpretation that Macbeth was a true villain rather than a hero. I think this as he betrayed his King and country when he murdered King Duncan in Act 2, Scene 1. He also condemed the murder of Macduff's innocent family in Act 4, Scene 2 and of his loyal general and best friend Banquo in Act 3, Scene 1. ...read more.

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