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Macbeth: Hero or Villain?

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Introduction

Nicola Horgan Macbeth: Hero or Villain? The first time in the play we hear about Macbeth is in the very first scene. The witches are discussing when they shall next meet again, and one of the witches says 'There to meet with Macbeth'. We are yet to read about Macbeth to discover his character but because of this scene we know somehow he is or will be associated with some kind of evil. Although when we read this nowadays we do not get frightened by this fact but in the sixteenth century when this play was written the audience would have been as they believed in witchcraft. The second time we hear about Macbeth is in scene two. In this scene he is described by a Captain, he describes him 'brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name'. The captain says this as Macbeth has defended the rebellion of Highlanders and Islanders. We still haven't heard Macbeth himself but we have two conflicting opinions of him. The first time we hear from Macbeth is in scene three. As the witches said, he met them on the heath. He is with Banquo, his best friend. He is greeted by the witches and they greeted him 'All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis' they also say Thane of Cawdor and then the third witch says 'All hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter'. ...read more.

Middle

while it was smiling in my face have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this'. I think the baby she describes is maybe a child that they lost, as we do not hear of this child apart from this in the play. I think she used the child as an example in her promise as it is something that they both feel strongly for and it brings them closely together. Before Lady Macbeth talks Macbeth into backing out of killing, in his soliloquy in Act one scene seven, Macbeth shows his conscience, he feels he doesn't want to go ahead with the murder, although when he talks about killing Duncan he never mentions the word 'murder'. At this point we still don't really know if Macbeth is a villain or hero yet. Lady Macbeth was suppose to carry out the murder but she saw Duncan sleeping and said that she could not do it as he looked like his father, this shows that she in not totally evil either. Macbeth hallucinates a dagger pointing towards Duncan's chamber before his murder showing he is unstable mentally and maybe nervous. These nerves make him kill the two guards that slept with Duncan and over react when the murder is revealed. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Act five scene four Lady Macbeth kills herself. At the start of the play Macbeth and his wife seem very close, but when she dies Macbeth is not moved in any way he shows no emotion at all, he is cold as if he has hardened to people dying. He says 'she should have died hereafter'. His life seems meaningless; he doesn't care for anything or anyone anymore, not even his wife. The army that are attacking his castle carry bits of trees from Birnam wood - Birnam wood seems to be moving. Now I thing this shows that his superstition has really ruined him. He seems to know he is going to die, he says 'At least we will die with harness on our backs', he wants to die a solider - but as the witches said no man of woman born can kill him. When the army attacks the castle he fights Macduff - it is then Macbeth finds out that Macduff was born of caesarean - I think now Macbeth is puzzled; should he carry on fighting or just give up? Macbeth's last words are 'Hold, enough!' He almost seems childlike and in a last grasp for breath he shouts this. Ultimately Macbeth is a villain, but factors that helped to bring out these feelings are his wife, his own ambition and the fact that he was too quick to believe to witches and too trusting. Macbeth may have been a hero but he died a villain. ...read more.

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