Is Macbeth Neither A Loathsome Nor A Heroic Character, But A Mixture Of Both?

875 words - 4 pages

In Macbeth, the titular character goes through a series of events which put his character through many trials. During these events, Macbeth demonstrates qualities of bravery, heroism, honour and duty, but also faults of murder, betrayal and dark ambition. Some say that in the end, Macbeth was ultimately a heroic character, but on the other hand others say that he was a loathsome one. However, is it possible that he is a mixture of both?

Firstly, Macbeth is clearly capable in battle and loyal to Duncan. In the start of the play in Act I, Macbeth is perceived through the eyes of the other characters as noble and a hero due to his accomplishments in battle. One such remark is “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name- / Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish’d steel, / Which smok’d with bloody execution, / Like Valour’s minion carv’d out his passage” (I, ii, 16-19). From this we can see that Macbeth is clearly able to fight, demonstrating his battle ability and heroism in battle. This also gives the impression that he fights for his king to the best of his ability.

Secondly, Macbeth knows the difference between right and wrong, enforcing his heroic character. An example of this is before he assassinates King Duncan. Before doing the deed, Macbeth mentions that “First, as I am his kinsman and subject, / Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, / Who should against his murderer shut the door, / Not bear the knife myself.” (I, vii, 13-16) and that Duncan is a great king to his people. Macbeth takes into account the consequences of him killing the king, what the king has done for the country and why he should be protecting and not harming him. These factors enforce his heroicness because they show that Macbeth has a conscience and can make rational decisions. One could say that committing the crime makes him loathsome, however this was after Lady Macbeth attempted to persuade him. Being able to be persuaded easily is another separate flaw which does not relate to how evil or disgraceful a character is.

In contrast to the evidence for his heroicness, there is also evidence for Macbeth being a loathsome character. In Act I, Scene 3, Macbeth begins to fear “horrible imaginings” (I, iii, 137) , which quickly become “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,” (I, iii, 138). Equally important is in Act I, Scene 5, where he states “Let not light see my black and deep desires,” (I, v, 51). These thoughts give the impression that Macbeth is a character who despite his loyalty to the king, has had dark ambitions and...

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