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Macbeth is the central figure in the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth, and the entire play revolves around him and the constant s

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Introduction

Macbeth is the central figure in the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth, and the entire play revolves around him and the constant struggle between his conscience and his lust for power. Macbeth is a Scottish nobleman, with the title of Thane of Glamis. A cousin to the king, Macbeth lives in his castle, Inverness, with his wife, the strong-willed Lady Macbeth. Our initial impression of Macbeth is based upon the sergeant's report, which depicts him as a valiant soldier in the Scottish army. He is determined in the face of peril, as when the Norwegian army launches a fresh attack taking the Scots by surprise. These initial perceptions become doubtful when we meet Macbeth. Despite all his positive traits, we also see him as a brutal killing machine, completely devoid of emotions ["his brandished steel...smoked with bloody execution"]. These killings foreshadow the murder planned by Macbeth to seize the throne. ...read more.

Middle

When in Act I, sc vii, Macbeth decides not to kill Duncan, his wife knows exactly how to invoke his desire for kingship by questioning his manhood. Nevertheless, the two are very close and Macbeth hides nothing from his "dearest partner of greatness." Macbeth comes across as an emotional easily excitable character. His letter to Lady Macbeth shows an unconcealed, almost childish excitement at the prospect of becoming king. His mood swings are sudden and frequent, with a sudden high when he hears the prophecy, then plummeting down when Malcolm is named as the next king. After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth is horrified and his dying goodness causes him to awaken to a guilt that will remain with him until his death. We see his desperation when he overreacts when Duncan's corpse is discovered. The months after Macbeth's crowning prove him to be a pathetic king. Everything that we hear tells us that Macbeth has become a cruel tyrant and changed Scotland into a country 'almost afraid to know itself.' ...read more.

Conclusion

He is cynically wise, regretful that he will have none of the things that old age needs: neither friends, nor respect, nor love, nor support. As he waits for the approaching army to overpower his castle, he is a man totally destroyed. Seyton tells him that his wife is dead, but he cannot even grieve for the woman who was once his 'dearest partner'; life simply has no meaning. Macbeth chooses to die in battle, 'with harness on our back', and this decision perhaps revives a spark of our former respect for the mighty warrior. He is killed, as he knew he would be, at the hands of Macduff. In the closing speech of the play, the newly crowned Malcolm calls him a 'dead butcher', but we know that he was more than that. Macbeth was not irrevocably evil. He was, rather, a normal man who succumbed to his greed and lust for power, and chose to do something evil. That is what makes Macbeth a tragic hero and the play a tragedy. ...read more.

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