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Is there anything to admire in the character of Macbeth? And how does Shakespeare influence our thoughts and feelings towards him as the audience?

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Introduction

Is there anything to admire in the character of Macbeth? And how does Shakespeare influence our thoughts and feelings towards him as the audience? As the audience, our opinions of Macbeth change throughout the play, from a perception of a character who is heroic and a loyal servant, to a cruel and evil "butcher". Shakespeare uses many varied methods to portray the character of Macbeth to the audience, and influence their thoughts and feelings. The opening scene is of three witches who feature throughout the play. They would have terrified an audience of the time as it was written and performed around the time of the 'Gunpowder Plot' and when the threat of being bewitched by a witch was very real to them. When supernatural and inexplicable things happened, women were often persecuted as witches and executed. This unfounded fear is what Shakespeare uses to get his audience hooked, and from there he is able to reel them in. The we�rd sisters introduce Macbeth to us, 'there to meet with Macbeth.' As they say this they are predicting the future, a skill that witches were believed to have. At this point the audience are surprised to see that the main character is being linked to witches and therefore evil. The last line of their scene, 'fair I foul and foul is fair,' this line has alliteration, which enforces the line, making it stick in the memory. Also it is juxtaposition of foul and fair, they are opposites of each other, and yet they are being used together to describe the weather. This is also the first line of Macbeth, this strengthens the link between him and the witches, so before the plot has begun, this gives the audience preconceptions of him being sinful and malicious. The line also conveys an element of pathetic fallacy as it describes the strange weather, and also reflects the 'strange' and 'confusing' rhymes of the we�rd sisters. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare again uses confrontations between the Macbeths to make the audience feel empathy towards Macbeth, as he seems confused and bewildered by what he has done, and Lady Macbeth still berates him. 'Infirm of purpose.' She still feels that she is the stronger one in their relationship and feels more worthy of the royalty promised to Macbeth. She believes that Macbeth feels remorse for his actions because he is not evil as she is. He shows his remorse in the form of delusions, 'Me thought I heard a voice cry, 'sleep no more: Macbeth does murder sleep.' At this point we feel for Macbeth as he is clearly distressed, we feel that his suffering is as a result of the bullying prevailed on him by Lady Macbeth, therefore we feel sympathetic towards him. Again, Shakespeare uses the theme of good and evil, this time represented by blood and water. Macbeth asks, 'will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?' this shows that he feels as though his bloodstained hands will give him away, he wants to hide the fact that he is a murderer, although this is what he does in battles. At this point we might feel that he is only doing what comes naturally to him, he kills in battle all the time, "his brandished steel which smoked with bloody execution." but when it was someone that he knew and respected, and it was off the battle field, he felt distraught and remorseful. This makes the audience respect his morals, but dislike him slightly because he didn't heed to them. After Lady Macbeth has taken back the daggers, she uses the blood now on her hands to goad Macbeth, 'my hands are the colour of yours, but I shame to wear a heart so white.' Lady Macbeth knows that she is more evil and capable of murder than Macbeth was. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows the audience how he is reformed, but it is all too late, they would feel really very sorry for him at this point, and admire his bravery to stand up and stare imminent death in the face, 'cheer me ever or disseat me now.' Shakespeare uses a soliloquy of Macbeth's to voice the morals of the play in just one simple sentence. 'Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.' This is Shakespeare's view on life, that it is meaningless, especially when you let others control you, and don't live for you. Shakespeare is perhaps showing how he doesn't respect or admire the character of Macbeth but that he sympathises and pities him. When Macbeth realises there is nothing left for him, and he only has himself to blame there is something to admire in his character. The fact that he acknowledges his inevitable death, but doesn't try to justify his actions shows the audience that underneath it all there always was an admirable person, it wasn't until his wife died that this side of him came out. Maybe this is because Lady Macbeth had a strong hold over him and he could only break free and show his true self when she had gone for good. Overall the audience only really admire him at the end of the play when his last soliloquy shows that he is a truly brave individual, "cheer me ever or disseat me now." This shows that in his impending death he still wanted to go out fighting like the man he used to be, rather than take his own life, as his wife does. It is this final comparison between the two that we can finally see his brave side. Laura Barnes MACBETH ESSAY: Is there anything to admire in the character of Macbeth? And how does Shakespeare influence our thoughts and feelings towards him as the audience? Laura Barnes ...read more.

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