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

What prevents Macbeth from being nothing more than a story of a ruthless and ambitious murderer.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

What prevents Macbeth from being nothing more than a story of a ruthless and ambitious murderer The story of Macbeth on a purely literary level could be appreciated as a fantastically dark story teeming with evil and uncertainty and the blind ambition of a blood thirsty warrior. However one would have to merely scratch the surface to discover that it is bursting with periodical references to political and social foundations of Shakespear's and James I era. Shakespeare's blend of the subliminal political and social references compliment other ever present themes also woven into the plot resulting in a rich tapestry of intrigue that elevates the play from being just a totally fictitious story but also a historical document that reflect the fears and beliefs of people of the day. To describe Macbeth the character as nothing more than a ruthless and ambitious murderer would be a terrible misjudgement of his character. Macbeth is portrayed as the tragic hero which is defined by his sustained emotional conflict which at times boils over beyond self restraint and begins to contaminate others with his moral awareness. Macbeth's character and calibre are defined even before the audience meets him. In act 1 scene 2 Macbeth is showered in glory and honour acknowledging his finest qualities which he exercises on the battle field "alls too weak, for brave Macbeth"(1,2,15-16). Duncan echos a line similar to that of the witches in 1,1,67 "what he had lost noble Macbeth hath won"(1,3,67). ...read more.

Middle

He defies the ruthless and ambitious stereotype further by considering the consequences of murdering god's representative on earth resulting in angels " trumpet-tongu'd against the deep damnation"(1,7,19-20). Macbeth reaches his moral high ground momentarily only to be beaten into submission by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth exploits her husband's weakness. By putting into question his masculinity she can taunt him into committing these atrocities "when you durst do it then you were a man"(1,7,49). As a proud warrior Macbeth feels he must maintain his image and her respect for him. Immediately after the king is killed Macbeth is inconsolable with guilt and regret "I am afraid to think what I have done"(2,2,54). These feelings completely consume him. Macbeth had previously been hailed as a great warrior so why does he experience this moral conflict. In his soliloquy in act 1 scene 7 he depicts the king as being totally benevolent. Almost in the same breath he reminds Lady Macbeth of Duncan's great generosity "he hath honoured me of late"(1,7,33). It is in deed true that Duncan's character is almost saintly. On one level the play can be of tale of good verses evil, but alternatively it can be classed as an early example of propaganda. Shakespeare's plays were to be enjoyed by a wide cross-section of society but it was important that they received praise and patronage from the king James I. Shakespeare used Duncan's gracious attributes to flatter the king. James I had believed that he had inherited the divine gift of a healing touch. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth begins to lose his mind almost instantly. Macbeth has his prize for the evil deed but he cannot appreciate it as he's consumed by remorse and trying to keep his head above water. The more people he kills to cover his tracks the more the evil is multiplied and he can increasingly feel that good is patiently waiting to punish him. It is abundantly evident that Shakespeare created a story that was infinitely more than the tale of a ruthless and ambitious murderer. Macbeth the man is a complicated individual capable of highly articulate outbursts born of a conscience that won't allow self forgiveness. Macbeth is a multidimensional man, courageous and brave on the battlefield but then unpredictable and fragile when confronted with emotional complication. The themes that Shakespeare included throughout the play have meant too much to anyone who has witnessed it for it to be packaged as just a story. In 1606 'Macbeth' would have been wielded as a political weapon defending the monarchy with regard to the Gunpowder Plot. At the same time 'Macbeth' would glorify all that is gracious and virtuous of monarchs as a result of Banquo's role model type example and Duncan's elevation to martyrdom. On a more personal level what one could say is that Shakespeare's greatest achievement is that his style and subject of writing is as relevant today as it is at any other point in history. 'Macbeth' the plot is about treason; but Macbeth the story is about human endeavour to do the right thing with conviction and the complete unravelling of our moral and mental fibre if we breach the breaking point of our own consciences. ...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. URBAN MYTH STORY

    She kept her strength and kept on walking saying to herself that this being a haunted house was only a silly rumor. She reached the door which had graffiti was written all over it. She felt that this was an abundant home.

  2. Macbeth was first performed in 1606 in front of King James I at Hampton ...

    that he becomes King: "We have scorched the snake not killed it." We start to notice now that Macbeth has become more ruthless and he is able to kill without much thought involved. In the play Macbeth actually becomes jealous of Duncan: "He sleeps well, nothing can touch him."

  1. Who is the more ambitious

    Macbeth is the sole starter of the plot, he realises that it may be a long time until the King would die and this poisons his brain as to thinking that if he murdered the king this could speed up the whole process.

  2. Discussion of Macbeth - An Introduction

    Subsequently, Lady Macbeth calls him a breaker of promises and cannot even believe him when he says he loves her, "From this time such I account thy love." Moreover, Lady Macbeth is contemptuous in his change of mind and accuses him of cowardice, "live a coward in thine own esteem".

  1. Examine how Penelope Lively explores a) The Folly of Harbouring Pre-Conceptions, and b) The ...

    However, we find out it is a boy, whom she knows is called Kerry, who will be her partner in helping Mrs Rutter. It is very important the way in which Sandra describes Kerry, because this is another stereotype. She tells us that he doesn't come from a good part

  2. The play 'Macbeth' was written for a performance which included King Christian IV of ...

    This scene is delivered almost entirely as a soliloquy. This means that all the attention on stage is given to Lady Macbeth, as everything she says is of importance. In his letter, Macbeth has written about his plans to murder Duncan. Lady Macbeth is willing to support her husband but she fears he would not have courage enough to

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