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Using Macbeth's soliloquies and speeches, show how the character changes throughout the course of the play.

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Introduction

Using Macbeth's soliloquies and speeches, show how the character changes throughout the course of the play. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is an ambiguous character. Although we are not introduced to him until Act 1, Scene 3 we get an impression of him as he his mentioned by the other characters. His name is first mentioned by the witches in the opening lines - 'Here to meet Macbeth'- which connects him with evil and this makes us more curious about him. This is because in Shakespearean times witches were regarded as evil and to be found guilty of being a witch was an offence punishable by death. However, in the next scene the Captain describes Macbeth as a fearless and loyal soldier and calls him, 'Brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name.' This is obviously a complete contrast to the information we can gather from the first scene. In his first line, Macbeth says, 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen.' This echoes the witches' 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair,' which they mentioned earlier in the play. This again connects Macbeth to the witches and evil but it also makes us think about his character. 'Foul and fair' are complete contrasts of each other and this reflects Macbeth's character at this stage. ...read more.

Middle

This shows he is becoming more ruthless and is determined nothing will stand in his way. He no longer needs Lady Macbeth's advice or evil ideas and the fact that Macbeth does not tell his wife about the murder could suggest two different things. It could be that Macbeth no longer trusts his wife enough to share this with her or, it could be that he still deeply loves her and wants to protect her so would no longer want her to be involved in this evil business. Throughout this soliloquy, Macbeth is constantly referring to darkness. For example, 'Come, seeling night' and 'Whiles night's black agents.' This could have a number of meanings. Firstly, it could reflect the change in Macbeth's character as he has become more evil and now has a darker nature. He no longer needs persuasion from his wife to arrange a murder and now appears to have more confidence in himself. This is reiterated by the two rhyming couplets at the end of this soliloquy, 'drowse/rouse' and 'still/ill' and the fact there are no questions at all during the whole speech. This is unusual as Macbeth is usually asking questions of his wife to reassure himself. However, the fact that Macbeth has hired murderers to kill Banquo suggests that Macbeth, although a much more evil character than at the beginning of the play, still has a small amount of conscience as he cannot face killing his 'best friend' himself. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, 'Life's but a walking shadow.' This makes him appear to be thoughtful and quiet and for a moment he seems to lose all his ambition as he realises that is own death is near, 'All our yesterdays have lighted fools/The way to dusty death.' Throughout the play we see a complete and extreme change of Macbeth's character, with a few aspects remaining constant. Both his ambition and ruthlessness remain with him throughout, being introduced in the first couple of scenes and eventually becoming his fatal flaw. In the beginning, he is a faithful and loyal servant of the King but this soon changes. Both the witches and Lady Macbeth help this ambition develop and fester in his mind. In the beginning Macbeth is determined to prove to his wife that he loves her and his worth as a man. However, from this point onwards Macbeth's ambition motivates him and overcomes his conscience, making him increasingly determined that nobody is going to stand in his way. He no longer needs Lady Macbeth's persuasion and involves her less and less in his business. Nothing else appears to matter to him except his kingship and he is prepared to do anything to keep it, despite the fact he knows it is wrong. By the end of the play he has turned into a evil, slightly mad, tyrant and his determination to keep hold of his crown eventually costs him his life. ...read more.

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