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Macbeth: Hero or Villain?

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Wajeesha Fernando, 11.4 Macbeth: Hero or Villain? The play 'Macbeth' gives the audience plenty of opportunities to consider the reasons for the main character's actions. In this essay, I will consider the changes in Macbeth from the beginning of the play to the end. How the witches' interferences affected Macbeth's judgement. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a well-known hero. Many praise him for his bravery and loyalty. The King, Duncan makes his appreciation very public. He calls Macbeth a "worthy gentleman" and makes his closeness to Macbeth clear to the audience by stating that he is a "valiant cousin!" He also honours Macbeth with the title 'Thane of cawdor' since the previous thane is on trial for treason. Duncan makes there closeness clearer by inviting himself to Macbeth's castle. At this point Macbeth is the most popular man in Scotland. The brave and loyal soldier, who just happened to be the king's cousin. Everything seems to be going well for Macbeth an at this point; I would consider him a hero. The first time we meet Macbeth is upon the heath in stormy weather. He and Banquo (his best friend) are going back to the castle after winning the battle. He and Banquo meet three "weird sisters", witches. In the first Act and scene of the play we meet these three witches again "upon the health"", in thunder, lightning and in the rain," "to meet with Macbeth". These are signs of evil, as normal human beings would not want to meet in these terrible conditions. Macbeth and Bonquo meet these witches upon the heath in thunder, lightning and in rain. Just as the witches had said. These witches hail "Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter!" Bonquo asked them of his future and they predicted that he shall be "lesser than Macbeth, and greater. ...read more.


Macbeth does murder sleep"", sleep no more, Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more!" This shows that Macbeth's state of mind has deteriorated, and he is delusional. Lady Macbeth asks him to take the daggers back, but Macbeth is too afraid to look at what he has done, the brave soldier seems to be losing the grip, "I'll go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done". After Lady Macbeth leave, Macbeth dwells on his guilt. "What hands are here?" "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?" He also regrets his actions "wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst!" In the next scene, Duncan's body is found. Everyone is distorted, and Macbeth shows his grief and anger. His deceitful nature is shown, as he murders the guards and surpasses it on as love for the king. After finding out that their father was murded Malcolm and Donalbain retreat to England and Ireland. The suspicion of murder id put upon them and Macbeth is appointed the King of Scotland. In Act 3, Scene 1 everyone is getting ready for the big banquet at Macbeth's palace. This is done to celebrate his coronation. Macbeth goes over to Banquo and asks if he is attending the banquet. Banquo says replies he is. Macbeth then asks if Macbeth is going riding. Banquo says yes. Macbeth continues to ask few more questions about it. This is very peculiar as Macbeth is really pressing the issue and seems very interested about Banquo's whereabouts. And the fact that Banquo is going riding with his son, Fleance. After Banquo leaves, Macbeth orders the servant to bring in the murderers. During the absence of his servant, Macbeth makes another important speech. Macbeth talks about his fear of Banquo. He cannot feel safe because Banquo lives. ...read more.


On the other hand, it could be because he stops trusting her; he makes it clear that he trusts no one, (he place spies in every Lord's castles). Did Macbeth become a murderer because of his ambitions, Lady Macbeth's influences or because of the witches' prophecies? Would Macbeth kill the king if the witches had not predicted his future? I do not think he would have. Nevertheless, why did the witches choose him? Is it because they knew that he would react, as he reacted to what the witches had to offer? These are just some of the questions that arise when reading Macbeth and only Shakespeare himself can answer. But the main point Shakespeare was trying to make is the clash between good and evil, and good triumphing evil. His message is that whatever your actions are there is always consequences. Especially when you are dealing with evil, the consequences will only be more brutal and treacherous. When Macbeth started taking drastic actions about the predictions the witches made, we could have said that his actions were the result of the witches' predictions coming true. Banquo, however, thought that evil cannot bring any good, and if they do, then they are going to betray them later with something big and important. Banquo decides not to do anything and just let things take its course. Macbeth decides to take matters into his own hands and spread things up. This causes the changes in Macbeth's character. The loyal, brave soldier in the beginning of the play slowly disappears, and a cruel, vindictive man emerges. The hero ended up being the villain. And it was neither the witches' nor Lady Macbeth's fault, even though they played a major part. It was due to Macbeth's own ambition and ruthlessness, in which he became the known villain of Scotland. Therefore, the question stands; "is Macbeth a hero or a villain?" My answer is, he was a hero who eventually became a villain by his own ill doings. ...read more.

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