• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Should an audience just dismiss Macbeth as a ‘Butcher’ or is there more in his character to interest us? Consider how Shakespeare shapes our response to him.

Extracts from this document...


Should an audience just dismiss Macbeth as a 'Butcher' or is there more in his character to interest us? Consider how Shakespeare shapes our response to him. The play Macbeth is about a man's battle between good and evil. It is based on a historical King of Scotland who was alive many years before Shakespeare. Shakespeare often used history for the basis of his plays, but he never followed history to the line and always adapted it to his liking to make in more exciting and appealing to people. This is what he did in the play Macbeth, he changed King Duncan from a weak and ineffectual ruler to an old and revered ruler and he omitted historical Macbeth's ten years of successful rule. He did this to make the story more exciting and interesting and ran some themes through the play that did not exist in history. These themes include order and disorder which plays a big role in the play and appearance and reality which is an important part of Macbeth's character. In the play there is an obvious battle between good and evil and the play can be interpreted this way. Throughout the play there are many examples of Macbeth's evil character. There are different situations that present themselves to Macbeth where he has the chance to do evil and in many of these situations he takes the opportunity. There are also more subtle examples of his evilness such as his link with the witches in Act 1, Scene 1. ...read more.


This would have horrified the Shakespearean audience and convinced them that Macbeth was totally evil. Immediately after this scene there is another murder committed under Macbeth's command; the murder of Lady Macduff and her son. This in itself was a greater act of evil than the previous murders, as they served no real purpose. Killing Banquo benefited Macbeth, but his next two murders are completely pointless and were brutality for brutality's sake. Their murders are made to seem even more barbaric by what Lady Macduff says early on in the scene. She says that Macduff's flight to England was madness and because of fear. She says he was not wise 'to leave his wife, to leave his babes...From whence himself does fly.' She is frightened of what might happen to her and her children and this is shown in the image that she is a 'poor wren' with 'her young ones in her nest.' This image of gentle nature makes Macbeth's indirect murder of her and her son as a very cruel and tyrannical thing to do. In Act 4, Scene 3, in a conversation between Malcolm and Macduff, Macbeth's rule of Scotland is described. Scotland has become a place of terror. 'each new morn,/New widows howl, new orphans cry.' This means that there are murders happening all the time and deep unrest. In this scene, Malcolm also 'tests' Macduff to see if he can truly be trusted. He does this by pretending to be even more evil and cruel than Macbeth is. ...read more.


He decides to die fighting rather than flee, 'At least we'll die with harness on our back.' This attempt at defiance can be interpreted as bravery, which was a quality with which Macbeth was attributed with in Act 1, Scene 2. Again, in Act 5, Scene 8, Macbeth's action can be interpreted as bravery. All is up; his followers have fled and his castle invaded, yet Macbeth is determined to fight to the bitter end. 'I will not yield/ To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet ... Lay on Macduff.' Macbeth is saying that he will not surrender and be forced to bow to Malcolm, he will fight until death instead. As shown by taking these two points of view, Macbeth's character can be interpreted in different ways. Though his character is good in the beginning, it becomes evil through a variety of factors, yet there are places where good features about his character are shown. Shakespeare has done this to show how someone can be tempted by evil, but then regret what he/she has done. This struggle between good and evil has made an interesting play, with many different features that would have appealed to people of Shakespeare's time, such as the connection with the witches and the thunder and lightening. I personally feel that Macbeth was underlyingly good, yet weak enough to be tempted by the witches' predictions and his wife's persuasion. I think that without these two factors, Macbeth would have carried on being the brave and loyal subject of King Duncan that he was so good at. He is not totally evil, but wavers between the two, throughout the play. ?? ?? ?? ?? 4 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Macbeth section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Macbeth essays

  1. Kingship in Macbeth - In Act4 Scene3, Malcolm identifies "the King becoming graces", a ...

    Although Edward doesn't posses as many qualities as Duncan and Malcolm, Edward's qualities are still very strong, and he makes a good role model for England, as he has a lot of respect from people. In conclusion, if all the qualities of Duncan, Malcolm and Edward were combined, they would make a near-perfect king.

  2. 'Macbeth' gives us a classic example of the literary definition of a 'tragic hero'. ...

    He is under great pressure, and finds himself to be in a confused and disorientated state of mind. Yet, he remains a ruthless despot, telling Seyton to 'Hang those that talk of fear.' The primary character has now fallen completely from grace.

  1. Is there anything to admire in the character of Macbeth? And how does Shakespeare ...

    and have human feelings, Lady Macbeth reveals her true self to the audience in a soliloquy. She links herself to 'spirits who tend on mortal thoughts.' And she asks that they 'unsex' her, to make her more masculine and therefore able to carry out the tasks that Macbeth is too weak to do.

  2. To what extent does Shakespeare portray the character of Macbeth as a war hero(TM) ...

    When Macbeth hears that Malcolm will inherit the throne, he has to confront his deepest and darkest desires. He thinks this is the point where I either become king or fail, 'On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap'.

  1. Personal Response to Macbeth as a Character.

    Macbeth is very aware of what is expected of him, and what it means to be a loyal subject. However, he is very weak when it comes to choosing between his ambitions and what is right. In Macbeth's first encounter with them in Act one scene three, the witches prophesise

  2. macbeth- appearance vs reality

    I know I am the Thane of Glamis, But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives A prosperous gentleman...'' the idea of the Thane being dead and Macbeth being the new Thane is something that is not what it seems because the audience do not know this and also because they are being told by strange women.

  1. After studying the Banquet Scene in Macbeth, what evidence do you find of Shakespeare's ...

    strong symbol of power - therefore she herself is depicted as part of that power and this shows the audience that she is an authoritive figure also. What Shakespeare has done here is he has given each character his/her own individuality and has highlighted this by showing a contrast between Macbeth's behaviour and Lady Macbeth's behaviour.

  2. How does Shakespeare show the destruction of Macbeth's character from "valour's minion" to "this ...

    In Act 1 Scene 3, Macbeth's curiosity begins to stir when the three peculiar witches declare, "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king herafter", predicting Macbeth's future.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work