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

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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. We know he is ‘foul’ because of the connections between him and the witches and also because of his ruthlessness, which is evident from the opening scenes. ‘He unseamed him from the nave to th’chaps.’ However we also know he is ‘fair’ because he is described as a brave and loyal soldier and faithful servant of the King and it is obvious the King trusts Macbeth. ‘More is thy due than more than all can pay.’ This adds to his ambiguous nature as we do not know which side of his character is a true reflection of him.

   His character begins to develop in the way he reacts to the witches prophecies. The witches have planted small seeds of ambition in his mind and he lets them fester until he begins to believe them. ‘If chance will have me King, why chance my crown me without my stir.’  It is Lady Macbeth who manipulates him into turning his ambition into action.

   Before killing Duncan, in Act 1, Scene 7, Macbeth is struggling with his conscience. In his soliloquy there are several references to heaven and hierarchy. For example, ‘Will plead like angels, trumpet tongued against.’ This reiterates the fact, to both Macbeth himself and the audience, that killing the King is an act against God, because of the belief, at the time, in the Divine Right of Kings.

    Throughout the soliloquy, Macbeth is building up arguments into why he shouldn’t kill Duncan, ‘Besides, this Duncan/Hath borne his faculties so meek,’ showing that, at this point, his conscience is deeply troubled by this problem. However, in the opening lines he suggests that if there were no consequences to the murder he would commit it without regret. This is backed up by the quotation, ‘If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well, ‘twere done quickly.’ This is where Macbeth’s ruthlessness and ambition first begin to take over his conscience. This could be because of Lady Macbeth’s influence on him. At this stage in the play they have a very close relationship and Macbeth is largely influenced by his wife. It is Lady Macbeth who he confides in over the witches prophecies and who he first discusses killing Duncan with. ‘This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness.’  This shows he trusts his wife implicitly and that their relationship is very close as they appear to tell each other everything. It is Lady Macbeth who finally persuades Macbeth to commit the deed which shows that she has control over him.

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   By the end of the soliloquy, Macbeth has convinced himself that killing Duncan is the wrong thing to do, as throughout it he has built up all the arguments against it. For example, he says, ‘First, as I am his kinsman and his subject.’ Also, he never speaks directly of killing Duncan. Instead he uses euphemisms such as ‘th’assassination’ which suggests that he doesn’t want to face up to what Lady Macbeth’s proposition involves. Both of these things imply that his conscience is deeply troubled and he doesn’t want to commit this crime. This shows he is still a noble ...

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