Compare and Contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
Throughout the play.
At the beginning of the play, we see Macbeth as a valiant soldier, fresh from the glory of his achievements on the battlefield. This all changes once he meets the witches, falling under their spell and that of his manipulative wife. Lady Macbeth has a good relationship with her husband. They depend on one another planning and plotting the death of Duncan at the beginning of the play. At the end of the play Macbeth the king is defeated and the order is restored. He does not die a hero's death but is slain in an act of revenge, against the usurper king. Lady Macbeth is no longer the, "partner in greatness". She is out of control. Filled with guilt and fear. She re-enacts past happenings, her mind wandering from one event to another.
The good side of Macbeth is shown when we hear about him first time and when the sergeant tells Duncan the story about the battle Duncan says, "o, valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman." Duncan is very proud of his cousin. Ross enters and tells Duncan, "point against point, rebellious arm 'gainst arm,
Curbing his lavish spirit: and, to conclude,
The victory fell on us."
Duncan is very happy when he hears this news he says: -
"No more than thane of cawdor shall decieve
our bosom interest: go pronounce his present
And with his former title greet Macbeth."
At this stage Macbeth is held in high esteem by all.
When Macbeth hears the witches prophesies he is shocked and wants to know more, "But how of cawdor? The thane of cawdor lives." "And to be king stands not within the prospect of belief." The witches ability to prophesy is proved when Macbeth receives the title, "thane of cawdor" his reaction to the news of the witches is strange, he is startled, then appears "rapt withal" showing he has had thoughts of becoming king before. The news comes so closely after the witches prophesy. He is preoccupied and cannot think of anything else. He trys to persuade himself that the prophesy is good. He is enchanted, "thanks for your pains." This soliloquy marks the beginning of the main plot of the play. The idea of kingship is linked with evil. "The greatest is behind," means he has already achieved the first prophesy and is looking forward to the next, what of "king hereafter?" He believes that if the first can be achieved then so can the next.
The second soliloquy reveals exactly what is on his mind, "two truths are told." Yet Macbeth believes: -
"This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill,
Cannot be good if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of the success,
Commencing in a truth."
He is not sure what is real. He is not certain whether he could leave it all to chance and he could become king without having to act against Duncan. He is in a trance. Banquo realises what Macbeth is thinking about-the possibility of becoming king. There is conflict in Macbeth's mind. This is the first in Macbeth that he is contemplating murder in the play. There are signs in the speech that Macbeth may have considered murdering the king before, such are his ambitions. He wrestles with the ideas of good and evil. It is as if he wants the witches' predictions to be true. He wants to be king and realises that in order to be king he has to kill Duncan. This idea does, however horrify him: -
"Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair,
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs."
He tells lies to Banquo. He pretends he was preoccupied with things he had forgotten when really he had been plotting to kill King Duncan. This marks his deceit, lies and his corrupted thoughts.
At this point Macbeth is very close of becoming evil all because of the witches' prophecies. All the witches do is make statements about the future. It is Macbeth who chooses to follow up on what they have to say, making the decision to act upon their suggestions once he is proclaimed Thane of Cawdor. An indication that there might be truth in the prophecies. When Macbeth arrives at the palace at Forres, Duncan is very generous: -