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Macbeth - Shakespeare

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Introduction

Shakespeare Coursework draft How does Shakespeare present Macbeth's transformation from hero to villain in act 1 of the play? Macbeth, written in 1606, is one of Shakespeare's most adventurous plays filled with ambition, fate, deception and treachery, centred around the character of Macbeth, telling of extraordinary things from the witches mischievous magic to Macbeths change in fortune and personality. First his bravery, loyalty, and morality are conveyed to the audience; before Shakespeare goes on to tell of his tragic decline into evil and of how he brutally obtains power and control over others. At the time of the play's creation, society believed intensely in the Chain of Being; the concept of God's strict, natural structure over the universe. The people stuck by this for fear of the consequences. They didn't question nature's vicious wrath because if they were to turn against it, it would be to defy the will of God and so had only God to answer to, dictating that it was therefore sinful for their subjects to resist them. Throughout Act 1:1-3, Shakespeare's audience is given countless reasons to think of Macbeth in a positive way, depicting him as the strong, heroic character, conveying to them all of his many laudable traits. This is firstly shown through how others act towards him and what people think of him. He is related to a 'lion' and 'eagle' by the captain showing he is thought of very highly and is respected. Confidence, fierceness and determination are all 'lion' like qualities that are reflected in the character of Macbeth. This is proved when he heroically fights on in the battle as it continues. Secondly 'noble Macbeth' questions the witches as he contemplates their prospects for him. He feels 'to be King stands not within the prospect of belief' so will leave it to 'chance' as he knows that sudden ambition is wrong. This declarative statement emphasises his refusal to act wrongly. ...read more.

Middle

Shakespeare also uses similes to show how Lady Macbeth is starting to control Macbeth more and more quickly. She orders him to 'look like th' innocent flower, But be the serpent under't' which means hide your feelings and emotions so that he doesn't get caught when committing the 'deed'. This is another imperative statement showing she dominates him. In many of the phrases that Shakespeare uses in his play, Macbeth can be interpreted in more than one way for example, 'he that's coming must be provided for.' This associates Lady Macbeth with the witches because it emphasises her control over Macbeth and how the witches have the same control over him. But it also connects her with darkness and the devil as she is preparing a feast but actually is planning on the death of the King. At this point Macbeth is starting to agree with his wife as she has manipulated him through her twisted words so that it sounds like the right thing to do. Macbeth's soliloquy is very powerful, at the beginning of scene 7, as he is debating whether to go through with the 'assassination'. The scene in which this is performed represents his feelings. This is because the 'torches' represent how he is not completely decided. They show how he's still half in darkness and half in light symbolising half in evil and half in good showing the darkness is slowly consuming him but hasn't yet. This can also be seen as the light symbolising of Duncan's life and how it is ending and later when the torches have gone out, he will be dead. The darkness also creates suspense and an eerie atmosphere leading to the unknown. Macbeth's loyalty and kindness is shown clearly in this part of the play to show he would go through with 'the deed' if there were no 'consequence's and it could 'end all here'. ...read more.

Conclusion

This makes it harder for Macbeth to refuse. He also uses lots of phrases like 'That summons thee to Heaven, or to Hell' which is significant because it is associated to funerals and death. Although, at the beginning he was completely against this plan, he is now lying to Banquo his 'friend' and still calls him a 'friend' although he's now become an enemy so its is ironic because he is the opposite. He seems, as he is almost comfortable with deceit and the whole idea. This is also shown when he says 'Hear it not, Duncan' showing that he is now determined and confident that Duncan will not find out. Macbeth purposefully distances himself from good as he feels nature is against him. He is in great 'fear' that it will give his plan away and that people might hear him. This is also linked to the Chain of Being about how it has been unbalanced. The play shows how Macbeth's personality unravels throughout, descending into evil. The people around him and the power that they withhold lead to his downfall. Shakespeare infers that Lady Macbeth is partially to blame for Macbeth's behaviour. He depicts her character as manipulating and controlling over Macbeth leading to his actions of murder. On the other hand, Macbeth is portrayed as a weak and cowardly character by not being able to defend himself and what is right resulting in his demise. The Chain of Being is an important theme in this play especially towards the end as everyone believed in it strongly and some even believed that it could tell you what happened next. For example, at the end of the play it is suggested that Macbeth will die because he has gone against God and interrupted the cycle. Therefore Macbeth's rapid descend into evil and Lady Macbeth's wicked nature both played an equal part in his transformation from hero to villain. Philippa Harkness ...read more.

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