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To what extent do we feel any sympathy for Macbeth?

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Introduction

To what extent do we feel any sympathy for Macbeth? "I am afraid to think what I have done, to know my deed 'twere best not know itself." Should we feel that Macbeth might be in some sense at least a man capable of knowing his own wrong doings? In the story of "Macbeth" we learn that Macbeth has many qualities about him that we admire. We also realise that his overwhelming pride eventually leads to his death at the end of the play. "They say he parted well and paid his score". Our first impressions of Macbeth are that he is a hero and that he is brave and fearless. "For Brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name" we hear about his success as a soldier and that he is the saviour of his country, "It is a peerless kinsman". The King Duncan hears of Macbeth's bravery and grants him the Thane of Cawdor title. This leads us to believe that Macbeth is in no way a traitor and that he is brave enough to deserve such a distinguished title. Banquo makes us realise that Macbeth is leading on to other ambitions "as the weird women promised; and I fear thou playedst foully for't" we are made aware at this point in the play that Macbeth is not just that "valiant cousin" and that "worthy gentleman" that his king thinks of him. ...read more.

Middle

till from my bones my flesh be hacked" he chooses to kill his friend as he feels "his royalty of nature reigns that which would be fear'd." This is the first sign of Macbeths ruthless acts, he chooses to kill Banquo and to leave "no rubs nor botches in the work" not just does he kill Banquo but his son Fleance who according to the witches was destined hereafter to become king. The murder scene is set in a "lonely place near Forres" to add to the tension and the irony of what the audience knows is about to happen. "The castle of Macduff I will surprise" "give the edge of the sword his wife, his babes and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line" this speech by Macbeth is reassuring us his ruthless attempts to kill anyone that poses a threat to his tyrannical reign as king of Scotland. We know he has no real reason to kill Macduffs family, it is almost impossible to imagine forgiving him the cruel slaughter of Macduffs wife and innocent children. "I am in blood stepp'd in so far" Macbeth realises that he has carried out such treacherous murders but refuses to show any remorse towards his evil credentials, "till thou applaud the deed". ...read more.

Conclusion

The audience have been reintroduced to the real Macbeth slightly towards the end of Act 5, which reminds us that he was not always uncontrolled and he only ended up in the situation he was in because of mistakes that he made. The audience sees how Macbeth has been wrapped up in the world of evil and hence how this has led to his eventual downfall. "Before my body I throw my warlike shield" Macbeth is a strong character and is fully aware of the good he has rejected. It is possible to feel repelled by the evil in Macbeth and at the same time to feel sorry for the waste of all the good things in his character. Macbeth has stopped thinking about the future and now looks back, perhaps with regret, into his past and thinks about the way things could have been. The great tragedy of the play is the loss of the kind of man Macbeth could have been and almost was, his contradictions in his character and his fatal mistake in giving in to his ambition lead him to an unfortunate death. At the beginning of the play Malcolm reports that the thane of Cawdor died a repentant and dignified death. This speech almost foreshadows the death of Macbeth at the end of the play. "He died as one that had been studied in his death, to throw away the dearest thing he owed as 'twere a careless trifle." RCP MIL H ...read more.

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