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Macbeth is more a victim than a villain. He is a tragic hero. Show to what extent you agree.

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Introduction

Macbeth is more a victim than a villain. He is a tragic hero. Show to what extent you agree. The question is asking us to show our opinions to whether he is a person injured/destroyed in seeking to obtain an object or whether he is a person guilty/capable of great wickedness. The question tells us that Macbeth is a man of superhuman qualities. The play is written in 1606. Shakespeare wrote it as a tribute to King James VI of England. King James was fascinated by witchcraft and was devoted to the divine right of Kings. The people of the 17^th century believe that god appointed Kings. This belief makes the murder of Duncan in the play particularly grave. James I wrote a book entitled Demonology. In this he expressed his belief in witchcraft. A belief, which he shared with many people in society. In choosing these issues, Shakespeare, reflected the interests of time. The source of the play was, Holinshead Chronicles. For setting, Shakespeare chose Scotland, which at the time was associated with bleakness and war. Thus it provided an appropriate setting for the events of the play. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's mature tragedies- it was written at the height of his powers. It is no surprise, therefore, to discover that the language of the play is rich and varied. These are three forms of language to consider: blank verse, prose and verse cuplets. Shakespeare's exploitation of language is used for emotive, aural and figural effect. Macbeth is a man of action: the play concerns things he does. He is a fearless warrior- and is an important lord- who defends his king against treachery. However, ambition is his fatal weakness. He allows, first the witches' prophecy and then his wife's ambition for him, to undermine his integrity. It is clear that he is not easily won over by evil- his conscience is strong, and throws up many objections to his doing the deed. ...read more.

Middle

In scene two Macbeth returns from murdering Duncan. He is obsessed by the noises he has heard, and particularly, is distressed by the fact that when-passing Malcolm and Donlalbain's chamber he was unable to say `amen' in response to their request for blessing. This shows us he maybe a victim in the evil of the play. The fact that such a great warrior-and killer of men-is lost in terrifying guilt indicates the full extent of the evil he has committed. The need for `amen' which he cannot speak and the fact that even the ocean cannot clean him, suggests the state of total damnation. Macbeth contemplates the dreadfulness of the deed he has committed. His poetic invocation of sleep, his hearing of a voice, his fear that his eyes will be plucked out, all indicate his distressed state, `sleep no more, Macbeth does murder sleep.' `He shall sleep no more.' It is possible at this stage to feel compassion and sympathy for Macbeth; it is possible to realize the enormity of the deed and the evil associated with this deed. He here appears to be a victim of his own ambition. Lennox's account of the storm is counter pointed by an almost dismissive four-word reply from Macbeth: `Twas a rough night.' In that tiny detail we see how unable Macbeth is to be natural and sociable. He has acted unnaturally. His unnatural actions are reflected in nature. In order for Macbeth to cover his guilt, he speaks in poetic metaphors about King Duncan; `His silver skin laced with his golden blood.' In addition to this Macbeth kills the two guards. This shows us again that Macbeth may be a villain. Macbeth is nominated and has gone to Scone to be invested. This shows us he is liked and trusted by many. It also shows us he is a good liar and a good villain. ...read more.

Conclusion

The violent language used by Macbeth when berating the servant, reflects his life of violence; `The devil dam thee black.' This is another incident where we can link Macbeth to being a villain. We receive an insight into Macbeth's thought in his soliloquy and we can almost feel sympathy for his as he reflects how his life has turned out and he reflects; `And that which accomplish old age, as honour, love, obedience, troop of friends, I must not look to have.' The care he urges for Lady Macbeth applies to him. He can never be purged, to a health. Macbeth's castle is surrounded. He is trapped but unbeaten. He encounters young Seyward and kills him in combat. The castle surrenders, but Macbeth's bravery is still evident. Macduff reveals to Macbeth that he was; `From his mother's womb, untimely ripp'd.' The final scene of the play brings retribution on Macbeth. But as low as he has fallen, the final challenge for Macduff- again, challenging his manhood- does spur him onto fight. So, at least Macbeth dies courageously. Before he is slain he denounces the witches for their, `Double Sense.' All of the prophecies have now come true. Macbeth comes to realize how completely duped by the spirits he has been. Macbeth's head is exhibited and Malcolm is crowned at Scorme. He stands in short contrast with the King Malcolm. I personally, think that Macbeth is more a tyrant than a tragic hero. The courage he shows in fighting Macduff does, however, suggests, to me, that he may be a hero. Although, true, he faces Macduff but not because he is courageous- but because perhaps, he was more frightened of public abuse, or perhaps he faced him, not out of courage but out of that same dogged devotion to prophecy that he had previously shown- he had to die then because the witches had said so. The symbolism of the play is seamlessly connected with the imagery: blood. It is a symbol for the evil that is associated with Macbeth. ...read more.

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