Hero, Villain, Or Both: The Transformation Of Macbeth

1166 words - 5 pages

In the play Macbeth, we witness Macbeth transform from an honest, courageous human to a dark, dishonest man who is full of greed and craves power. Various acts of loyalty and betrayal take place throughout the play, and these acts help pave the way for the rest of the plot. We witness a series of betrayals that act similar to that of unsteady building blocks, with each betrayal adding more consequence and weight to the next until they all crumble back down. This was the case with Macbeth, where he would betray his old friends and essentially ruin their lives, until eventually, these betrayals returned the favor. All of Macbeth’s betrayals prove to be of paramount importance, as each one will change the terrain of the play drastically. The themes of loyalty and betrayal sculpt the plot of Macbeth and alter the complex personalities of the characters.
In the beginning of the play Macbeth, Macbeth is an extremely honest, loyal, and humble individual. He cares more for the wellbeing of others, rather than that of his own. Numerous people admire his courage and loyalty to his King, including the captain who says, “For brave Macbeth¬—well he deserves that name--Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel”(1.2 ll. 16) The Captain’s words indicate just how courageous and loyal Macbeth is to his King Duncan. Macbeth put his life on the line to protect his kingdom, and not only did he protect it, he led the army to a heroic victory. Macbeth also expresses his appreciation and dedication to King Duncan. He says, “The service and the loyalty I owe, in doing it, pay itself” (1.4 ll. 22). Macbeth is now responding to the praise he has received from King Duncan, and once again reiterates his loyalty to Duncan. Macbeth says he does not need to be rewarded, as simply working under the King is a distinguished honor all in itself. Macbeth’s relationship with King Duncan reaches its peak at this moment in the play, with King Duncan and Macbeth establishing a link that intertwines the unmitigated loyalty between the two men. However, soon after, upon the witches arrival, Macbeth will experience a metamorphose of his character that will alter the course of the play and the character of Macbeth.
Macbeth’s lust for the throne increases every time he considers the opportunity to become King. The witches conversation to Macbeth about him becoming King is the tipping point to Macbeth’s future actions. After hearing these conversations, Macbeth ponders about how, one who is simply a nobleman, could rise up into the prestigious position of King. Macbeth thinks to himself, “If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me, without my stir?”(1.3 ll. 144) Macbeth has the attitude of letting fate take its course. He wonders how he could become King without his own interference, and that the position of King will come to him without any of his own actions. As time progresses, and aided by the sly thoughts of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s loyalty eventually begins to shift...

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