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Macbeth: Hero or villain? Discuss.

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Introduction

Macbeth: Hero or villain? Discuss. Macbeth is an interesting character, as the story progresses Macbeth's fortune takes different turns some for good and some for bad. Macbeth changes from "brave Macbeth" to "bloodier". I think that Macbeth is both a hero and a villain at different points in the play. Macbeth's transition from hero to villain is ongoing. At the beginning of the play, act1 scene 2, Macbeth and Banquo are seen as loyal courageous fighters returning from a victorious war against the "traitor" Macdonwald and the Norwegians. The sergeant describes the courage of Banquo and Macbeth, who we are told were no more dismayed by the enemy than a "lion" would be by a "hare". The descriptions are also gory; they tell of Macbeth being a fierce warrior and not being afraid to kill at war, "till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops". King Duncan rewards Macbeth by sending Ross to greet "great Macbeth" with his new title "thane of Cawdor". As a result, our first impression of Macbeth is that he is a loyal, courageous, brave and victorious warrior, so we see Macbeth as a hero before we have even met him. In the next scene, we again hear about Macbeth before we meet him. This is because the witches are casting a spell that foretells that Macbeth will meet them at the heath. ...read more.

Middle

Lady Macbeth assumes that murder is necessary, however, she fears the Macbeth is "too full o' the milk of kindness" to do it. She sees this as a weakness, which she must "chastise" out of him. She also shows her husband's ambition to be all-powerful. She insists that Macbeth must kill Duncan in order to fulfil prophesy, "he that's coming must be provided for, and you shall put this nights great business into my dispatch. Macbeth is convinced not only by his Lady but also by his ruthless ambition. Act 2 sc 1, this scene ends with Macbeth nervously waiting for the signal to murder Duncan. First, Macbeth speaks to the dagger he appears to see before him. He wonders if it from his "head-oppressed brain". It seems to draw him towards murder. With the words "there's no such thing" Macbeth decides he is imagining things. In the last part of the speech, Macbeth pulls himself together, realising that he must stop talking and get on with the murder. He hears the bell that is Lady Macbeth's signal. Then as if he has finally made up his mind, he goes into action. When Macbeth murders Duncan, the king has no chance against Macbeth because he is asleep and has no weapon. It is a cowardly murder, in the dark. When Macbeth walks past Malcolm and Donalbain's room, he could not say "amen" to their request for a blessing on their father because he has just murdered him, and has a lot of guilt about this. ...read more.

Conclusion

Near the end of the play Macbeth's villainy increases. He even orders the hanging of people talking of fear. He still thinks it was a mistake to kill Duncan, but not as much as when he initially did. This is because he speaks of the good life he would have had if he didn'the commit the murders. He still wants this, but has completely the opposite. Just before he is killed in his castle Macbeth speaks heroically and in a warrior-like manner, showing where his strength is. If we forget Macbeth's ambition we can admire him for this, "why should I play the roman fool and die on mine own sword? While I see lives, the gashes do better upon them". At the beginning of the play, we view Macbeth as being a hero who would defend his king and country against traitors. He also holds a lot of guilt about killing Duncan, and is commanded by his own wife to do it. When Macbeth progresses into a villain, he becomes more detactched from Lady Macbeth and can make decisions without her. With this, he becomes more ruthless in his efforts to stay as the king of Scotland and people describe him as "this tyrant" and "dwarfish thief". Throughout the play whenever Macbeth tries to achieve his ambition, he always blocks his good heroic qualities in favour of a more villainous way. It is this ambition of his that leads him to become a villain later in the play, which leads to his undoing and eventuall killing by Macduff. ...read more.

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