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Macbeth: Is he a hero or a villain?

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Introduction

Macbeth: Is he a hero or a villain? 'Macbeth' is a play written by William Shakespeare in 1603 that shows a protagonist going from bad to worse right all the way through the play. The play is also a tragedy. In Shakespeare's time, people were great believers in the supernatural, including witch craft. Many also believed that when evil deeds were done, terrible things happened in the heavens. All Shakespeare's tragedies focus on the same idea, a single flaw in the person that leads to their destruction, desperation and death. Shakespeare wrote this play, taking in mind current affairs at the time of 1603-1606. This is the time when a Scottish King, James I was given the English crown. This King was infatuated with witches, so Shakespeare brought this theme powerfully into the play. The theme of the play is the defeat of someone who tried to murder a King. It upholds the view that it is evil to kill a King and this idea would appeal to James I. The traditional requirement of a tragedy requires the tragic hero to be a person who upholds a high position who must oppose a conflicting force. A hero should also have a Hamartia, which is a tragic flaw. This will lead to the hero's downfall; in this case, it is Macbeth's ambition. A hero is a person who saves someone; they put other considerations before his own life. Macbeth starts off being a hero when he is a brave and noble soldier, but then becomes a villain. ...read more.

Middle

The starting of Macbeth becoming a villain is the end of Act One. 'False face must has hide what the false heart doth know.' Macbeth has changed his mind at this point and is saying that the murder must be very secretive and he must make sure nobody suspects him. This illustrates Macbeth's decisions are a villain's and eventually it is Lady Macbeth who persuades him, 'When you durst do it, then you were a man'. This shows Lady Macbeth to be controlling and more of a man than Macbeth. In Act Two, Scene One, Macbeth shows he is feeling troubled and guilty by what he is about to do, 'That summons thee to heaven, or to hell.' Macbeth knows that what he is about to do is immoral and he has a guilty conscience. Before Macbeth kills Duncan, he is feeling terrified and tormented. 'Who's there? What ho!' Macbeth is hearing every little noise and afraid of the sounds he hears. This shows that Macbeth is in a tormented state of mind because he imagines he sees a dagger. 'I go, and it is done.' This suggests that Macbeth wants to get it over and done with and it also shows he is feeling guilty about killing Duncan. Macbeth regrets killing Duncan right away, he forgets to smear the grooms with the daggers, as he was so horrified about murdering the King. The fact that he forgets to incriminate the grooms shows that he is still troubled. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth shows little emotion at his wife's death which could suggest that he is too wrapped up in his own problems. Even though he know he is going to be killed, he still fights Macduff. 'I will not yield, to kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet, and to be hated with the rabble's curse.' On the basis of the action and evidence in the play, Macbeth begins as a hero and becomes a villain by the murder of the King and by arranging the murders of his best friend, Banquo and Lady Macduff and her children. Macbeth begins as a hero who would protect his King and country against traitors. When he progresses into a villain, he becomes more detached from Lady Macbeth and can make his own decisions without her. However, Lady Macbeth did have a great influence to Macbeth. She influences him to kill Duncan and also blackmails him. The witches' play an immense part because they prophesy the future to Macbeth and it is a decision for Macbeth to accept or not accept their predictions, but he decides to accept them because the predictions come true and also because they are tempting, as Macbeth wanted to become King. Macbeth's short reign is seen as 'watchful tyranny' and Lady Macbeth is described as his 'fiend like queen'. At the end of the play, Malcolm describes Macbeth as 'this dead butcher.' Although he is evil, he still goes to fight Macduff like the brave soldier he was at the beginning, even though he knows that the witches have tricked him. Therefore he is a hero as he fought bravely at the end. ...read more.

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