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Macbeth’s path to evil

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Introduction

Gareth Watts Unsupervised Macbeth's path to evil In "Macbeth", it is clear that Macbeth at the start of the play is a different person to Macbeth at the end of the play. During the course of the play, he changes a great deal, most obviously from a good and faithful thane of Scotland to a cruel and ruthless king. At the beginning of the play, he is at his noblest. He has shown great courage and loyalty: "brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name", and is considered a hero by Duncan, the king, for ending the rebellion in Scotland, and is thought trustworthy: "O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!" He is a great warrior and one of the leaders of the Scottish army: "like valour's minion carv'd out his passage." Yet he is ambitious, and this leads him to become a terrible king, moving from one act of violence to another, seeing one threat after another, so killing conscience and pity. As he is king of Scotland, his evil floods Scotland, making it horribly unnatural and filled with fear: "A falcon.../Was by a mousing owl hawk'd at and kill'd." However, at the end of the play he still shows that he has not lost his courage as he dies fighting: "Exeunt, fighting", but it is somewhat diminished and his fear has grown as earlier in the play he is scared of the apparitions: "But no more sights!" ...read more.

Middle

They have planned out everything and know exactly what will happen when they tell Macbeth that he will be king one day: "There to meet with Macbeth", "All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be King hereafter." Throughout the play, Macbeth tries to control the witches, yet he never can: "Speak, I charge you. Witches vanish", and he tries the same with the apparitions, and is scolded by the witches: "He knows thy thought: /Hear his speech, but say thou nought." He does not realize that he cannot control either Fate or such unearthly creatures as the witches. Also throughout the play, the witches treat Macbeth as one of their own, and he does not realise that he finds them only because they want him to: "Something wicked this way comes. /Open locks, /Whoever knocks." Shakespeare makes this comparison between them in Macbeth's very first line, by giving him almost the exact same words as he gave the witches: "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." The witches are also significant to Shakespeare's audience because there are three of them. There has always been an ancient superstition that the number three is a magical number, yet most of the Shakespearian audience would immediately associate it with the Holy Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In "Macbeth" this has been inverted, as so many other things are. ...read more.

Conclusion

Later in the play however, it is clear that Scotland has become more unnatural as the Son dies in an attempt to save Lady Macduff, a child sacrificing himself for his parent's life: "He has kill'd me, mother: /Run away; I pray you!" This is unnatural and fails, as both Lady Macduff and her Son die. Finally, another sign of Macbeth's descent to evil is that he becomes more and more secluded. This is mainly shown by the increasing amount of soliloquies that Shakespeare gives him, but is also shown by his relationship with Lady Macbeth. At the beginning of the play they are a happy couple, who love each other intensely: "my dearest partner of greatness," yet as the play progresses, especially after Duncan's murder, Macbeth separates himself from his wife, and once he is king, she must ask to see him: "Say to the king, I would attend his leisure". All Macbeth's deeds are consequently thought out by himself, unlike the murder of Duncan, in which Lady Macbeth did most of the thinking and planning: "Leave all the rest to me", and Macbeth keeps Lady Macbeth out of the murder of Banquo even when she asks him what he is planning: "Be innocent of the knowledge.../Till thou applaud the deed." All of these points show how Macbeth becomes increasingly evil throughout the play, eventually becoming a much feared villain, or a tragic hero. ...read more.

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