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Trace the development of Macbeth's character

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Introduction

Macbeth In this essay I will be attempting to trace the development of Macbeth's character throughout the play pointing out significant scenes that mark turning points in Macbeth's behaviour noting how these affect his relationship with Lady Macbeth. I will also be looking at the social and historical context of the play. Macbeth was written between 1603 and 1606 during the reign of James the first of England. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth for James who was fascinated with the supernatural, witchcraft, apparitions and ghosts. Shakespeare had a lot of respect for the King and thus, he represented King Duncan as an honourable man to reflect on James. Shakespeare makes James's ancestor, Banquo, a hero in the play. During this time it was common for people to believe in witches and their powers and they were seen as evil and going against Christian values. In 1604 an Act of Parliament decreed that anyone practising witchcraft should be executed. People also believed that the King was appointed by God and the King had Divine Rights and was not answerable to the people or to Parliament. The plot of Macbeth to kill the King would also go against Christian values of Shakespearean times. We can only speculate but it is possible that many of those who condemn the King to death 45 years later would've seen the plays of Shakespeare. ...read more.

Middle

After Macbeth's soliloquy Lady Macbeth walks in and asks her what news she from Duncan. Macbeth tries to avoid the conversation but Lady Macbeth keeps turning the conversation back to Macbeth becoming King and does not letting him avoid the topic. Here the audience can see how calculating and powerful Lady Macbeth can be. Macbeth says he decided not to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth calls him a coward and questions his manhood. Macbeth quickly gets offended. "Prithee, peace. /I dare do all that may become a man" Here Macbeth says he's willing to prove he is a man regardless of what he must do. Then Lady Macbeth fills his mind with evil thoughts, saying that she will make the king's bodyguards drunk so killing the king will be easy, Macbeth applauds her. In Act 2 scene 2 Lady Macbeth finally talks Macbeth into killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth is exhilarated by the drink. She waits for Macbeth to come back from killing Duncan. Macbeth is obsessed by his inability to say 'Amen', and by a voice crying that he has murdered sleep and will never sleep again. "One cried 'God bless us!' and 'Amen' the other, /As they had seen me with these hangman's hands. /List'ning their fear, I could not say 'Amen'". In these lines Macbeth talks about his inability to say 'Amen' because he had blood covered hands as a result of killing Duncan. ...read more.

Conclusion

In this scene Macbeth is preparing for war against Malcolm and Macduff. Lady Macbeth dies and Macbeth starts to reveal his true feelings towards her. "She should have died hereafter; / There would have been a time for such a word. /Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow/ Creeps in this petty place from day to day/To the last syllable of recorded time; /And all our yesterdays have lighted fools/The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle,/Life's but a walking shadow, poor player/That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/And then is heard no more. It is a tale/Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/Signifying nothing." This comes from Macbeth's world famous soliloquy which is linguistic device that Shakespeare uses. Here Macbeth is full of sorrow and he is regretting everything that he has done. He says that everyone has their "five minutes of fame" but when it is over, that person shall never be heard of again. He is also imposing that life is an elusion and that it is completely pointless. I have attempted to trace the development of Macbeth's character throughout the play and I have selected significant scenes that mark turning points in Macbeth's behaviour and I have noted how these affect his relationship with Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare also creates from the beginning an atmosphere of things supernatural of a world of magic and prophecies. Above all, in this play he produces language of great poetic beauty. There are two themes, ambition and conscience. ...read more.

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