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Character Changes In Shakespeare's Macbeth Essay

1350 words - 5 pages

Macbeth:  Character Changes

"This dead butcher and his fiend like queen"(V.viii.80) is the way Malcolm describes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.  The characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth changed considerably during the course of the play, Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare.  In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is seen as a courageous soldier who is loyal to the King.  As the play progresses, Macbeth is corrupted by the witches’ prophecies and by his and Lady Macbeth’s ambition. Because of the weakness of Macbeth’s character and the strength of Lady Macbeth’s character, Lady Macbeth is able to easily influence him.  Lady Macbeth pushes Macbeth toward evil at first, but after he realizes what he has done, it is his decision to continue down the murderous, bloody path. 

At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth appears as a kind wife to Macbeth, but underneath lies a scheming and treacherous woman.  Macbeth is initially a strong soldier who fights relentlessly for the King. His ambitious drive and his curious nature lead him to three witches who give him a prophecy.   Banquo realizes that there must be a trick hidden in the witches’ prophecies somewhere, but Macbeth refuses to accept that. When Lady Macbeth finds out about the witches, her strong ambition and her cold nature lead Macbeth astray.  Macbeth is a little ambitious at first, but Lady Macbeth’s ambition far exceeds his. Therefore, she is able to convince Macbeth to kill King Duncan.  Macbeth still has a conscience at this stage because he is very hesitant about killing the King, but his weak nature overcomes him.  He actually has a conscience throughout the entire play, as evidenced by the hallucinations of the dagger and the ghost of Banquo.  His vivid imagination and his predisposition to worry are also evident in his terrible dreams, which support the theme that “Macbeth does murder sleep"II.ii.51).

         Throughout the play we see the character of Macbeth change, not only from the way he thinks and speaks, but from his actions as well. Killing Banquo and having Lady Macduff and her children murdered show the insecurity that is present in Macbeth’s character.  After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth becomes paranoid.  This paranoia leads to his killing the guards to help secure the place that he has found for himself.  Macbeth is also very superstitious, which becomes evident when he allows the witches’ prophecy to convince him that Banquo’s offspring would become Kings.

         Towards the end of the play, once Macbeth’s wife has died and the battle is drawing closer, Macbeth shows the desire for some good that may have been.  He wishes for a normal life in which he would have lived to an honorable age, but he recognizes that he has deprived himself of this.   Even when Macbeth hears that the prophecy of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane has been fulfilled, he rejects this idea and fights on until he realizes that Macduff wasn’t born in a natural birth but instead...

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