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Macbeth – Hero or “Hellhound”

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Introduction

Macbeth - Hero or "Hellhound" William Shakespeare the author of Macbeth was born in April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He is generally regarded as the greatest playwright ever to have lived. During the time of Shakespeare (which was the Elizabethan times) the theatres in which his plays were performed were very basic. They had no scenery or sets so they used simple items such as a stool, which would represent an indoor scene. He theatres were also very small, the fortune theatre only being 80ft square. The stage had three tiers; the main stage where most of the scenes would be performed, the tiring house which was used for scenes such as the witches' cave in Macbeth and the gallery (upper stage) which was used for scenes such as the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet. People in the Elizabethan times were extremely religious and believed in a "chain of being". This is a hierarchical society that is divided into three sections, Heaven, Hell and Earth. They believed that everybody was born into a level and this could not change or chaos would ensue. Due to this belief the killing of king - known as regicide was regarded as the worst crime in the world as the king was god's messenger on Earth. Macbeth was written for King James in around 1605. Because of whom it was written for Shakespeare had to change the character of Banquo to a "good guy" as it was one of James' ancestors (Shakespeare actually borrowed the idea for the play from Ralph Holinheads' chronicles). The play is about a Scottish nobleman 'Macbeth' who becomes king by murdering the previous king. The world is then thrown into disarray until eventually 'Macbeth' himself is killed and the true successor to the throne is crowned when order is restored. There are many themes in Macbeth many of which recur throughout the play. ...read more.

Middle

This will symbolise to the audience that he is moving into darkness from light or more worryingly from good to bad. In scene five Lady Macbeth is introduced. She offers quite a lot of insight into 'Macbeth's' character that hasn't been mentioned before. She says, "Yet I do rear thy nature is too full of the milk of human kindness." This is a feminine quality; she is basically that 'Macbeth' is not masculine - bloody enough. She also says that he is, "without the illness that should attend ambition." This means that his ambition is pure but does not having that "illness" mean that 'Macbeth' doesn't have a conscience? She says that he wants to do things the right way, "holily", "wouldst not play false" and also that 'Macbeth' fears to do things. This shows us that Lady Macbeth has, perhaps, a confused idea of masculinity and femininity and also good and evil. Lady Macbeth's behaviour echoes that of the witches as she calls upon the spirits to "unsex" her. We can also links with 'Macbeth' when she says, "come thee thick night, And pull thee in the dunnest smoke of hell." Here she is calling for darkness like her husband did previously. 'Macbeth' arrives home at their castle and tells Lady Macbeth that Duncan will be staying for a night, to which Lady Macbeth says, "O never shall sun that morrow see." This is a clear indication that she too wants the king to die. She tells 'Macbeth' to "look like th' innocent flower, but be the serpent under't." 'Macbeth' says "we will speak further." This shows the audience that 'Macbeth' hasn't yet decided whether or not to kill the king. In scene six the king arrives at 'Macbeth's' castle. In scene seven 'Macbeth' argues against killing the king by saying, "he's here in double trust." This means that it should be 'Macbeth's' duty to protect the king and not try and kill him. ...read more.

Conclusion

This isn't a good sign as it shows that 'Macbeth' has gone too far. He also says: "She should have died hereafter, there would have been a time for such a word, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in the pretty face from day to day." This shows that 'Macbeth' is accepting that he will be defeated and wants death now. 'Macbeth' also learns that Burnham wood is coming to the castle. He says, "at least we'll die with harness on our back." The audience will wonder of this is noble and heroic or is he really mad? It also shows that 'Macbeth' "disdain fortune" once again. In scene seven 'Macbeth' realises that he has been tricked by the witches when he says, "they have tied me to a stake, I cannot fly, but bear like I must fight the course." The audience may now feel a little bit sorry for 'Macbeth', as all that he can do now is fight. "Turn hell hound, turn." Macduff yells to 'Macbeth' to which 'Macbeth' replies no. He decides that he doesn't want to kill Macduff as he has already killed all of his family. Is this 'Macbeth' showing some compassion to Macduff by not fighting him or is it just arrogance? 'Macbeth' realises what the witches were talking about when Macduff says he was born by caesarean section - not born of a woman. Even though he now knows this he still wants to fight. The audience will wonder if this is 'Macbeth' trying to "disdain fortune" once again. Macduff kills 'Macbeth' in the fight, as the witches predicted. Malcolm says, "this dead butcher." This isn't really a very good description of 'Macbeth' as he perhaps had good reason to kill some of the people that he did and some of his other murders could be seen as 'Macbeth' being cautious rather than bloody and over the top. When the king's named successor returns to the throne, the chain of being is back in order and the play ends. 'Macbeth' has been killed and order has been restored. Simon Tait 11Y1 Ms. Collings ...read more.

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