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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.

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Introduction

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.

Middle

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.

Conclusion

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.

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