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It is a fair assessment of Macbeth's character to call him nothing but a brutal and ruthless villain?

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Introduction

It is a fair assessment of Macbeth's character to call him nothing but a brutal and ruthless villain? In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth is a very complex character showing many different traits in his many appearances throughout the play. The story starts after a battle; Macbeth then meets three witches who foresee that he will become King of Scotland. These witches knew all about Macbeth's fatal flaw, his greed for power. This fatal flaw, as a typical tragic hero was the cause of his downfall. There is no doubt that throughout the play Macbeth is a brutal and ruthless villain, but it is certainly questionable to say that they are his only qualities Before Macbeth is even introduced to the audience, we are already told of his capacity for brutality. The captain describes Macbeth's actions to the king when he says, "Like Valour's minion, carved out his passage / Till he faced the slave." The captain goes on to say, "Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him, / Till he unseamed him from nave to chaps." This statement also shows the brutality and barbarity of Macbeth's character very well as he did not just end this mans life in an honourable and quick way, but instead sliced him all the way from his stomach to his jaw. ...read more.

Middle

Macbeth is an extreme tyrannical ruler of Scotland and chooses to rule with fear rather than ruling out of respect. When Malcolm and Macduff are describing Macbeth's rule, they use personification to emphasise the amount of damage that Macbeth is doing to Scotland. Macduff says, "Bleed, bleed, poor country, / Great tyranny. Lay thou thy basis sure." This makes Scotland's suffering seem human and the use of personification enhances the bad feelings that the reader has for Macbeth and also the feelings that Scotland is a victim is enhanced. Macbeth's brutality and ruthlessness leads to him being very short of loyal followers as they all disapprove of his tyrannical ruling methods. The few that do remain do so only out of fear of what Macbeth would do if they did not obey him. When Rosse and the messenger warn Lady Macduff that Macbeth's murderers are on the way to kill them, Rosse says, "I am so much a fool, should I stay longer" and the messenger says, "I dare abide no longer". These two statements clearly show the fear that these men have for their lives in disobeying Macbeth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Therefore Macbeth was not the evil and villainous one, he was merely a victim of the witch's evil. The evil in the witches is emphasised by Shakespeare's use of pathetic fallacy. At the beginning of the play Shakespeare says in the stage directions '[Thunder and lightning]', using pathetic fallacy to make the witches seem even wicked and their power emphasised as it almost seems that they have control over the weather. As there is so many factors that show that Macbeth is not just merely a brutal and ruthless villain, it would be wrong to call Macbeth 'nothing but' a villain. The very fact that Macbeth is a tragic hero is evidence in itself that Macbeth has the potential for good but is merely destroyed by his fatal flaw, because tragic hero's have to start with power and respect and gradually lose that throughout the play. This is summed up perfectly in Act 4 Scene 3 when Malcolm says: "This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, Was once thought honest: you have loved him well." Despite all the crimes that Macbeth has committed, Malcolm is still saying that this was not always the case, showing further evidence that Macbeth is more than just a brutal and ruthless villain. Daniel Sheedy 4E1 4RM 8/5/01 ...read more.

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