Macbeth Character Analysis Essay Author: William Shakespeare

1286 words - 5 pages

In the Shakespearean play Macbeth, Macbeth, the play's protagonist, undergoes a significant transition in his evolution from a brave and loyal war hero to a tyrant who brings chaos and destructions to Scotland. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is described as being "too full of the human kindness/To catch the nearest way" (Shakespeare 39, Act 1, scene 5, l 16 - 17) but towards the end of the play, Malcolm describes him as "butcher" (Shakespeare 257, Act 5, scene 9, l 41), who only seeks revenge and bloodshed. Our initial impression of Macbeth, based on the wounded soldier's report, is a courageous and capable warrior. Nonetheless, we later realize that Macbeth's bravery is accompanied by ambition and self-doubt. He spirals out of control, eventually killing his king, his friend, and a vast number of innocent people. Towards the end of the play, we see the terrible effects that ambition and guilt can have on a man who lacks strength of character. As Macbeth's unchecked ambition joins his brave and self-doubting nature, we realize that his ambition is only leading him to his demise.

In several parts of the play, Macbeth shows extreme bravery and honour. We clearly see his physical power in the beginning of the play through his victories over Scotland's enemies. This is evident when the wounded solider describes Macbeth's triumph over Macdonwald to the king by saying, "But all's too weak, /For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name-/Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel/...Like Valour's minion carved out his passage" (Shakespeare 13, Act 1, scene 2, l 17 - 21). As the solider is carried off to have his wounds attended to, Ross, a Scottish nobleman, enters and further establishes our impression of Macbeth's bravery by telling the king that the traitorous thane of Cawdor and the army of Norway have been also defeated by Macbeth and his army. "Till that Bellona's bridegroom, [Macbeth], lapp'd in proof,/ Confronted him with self comparisons,/ Point against point rebellious, arm 'gainst arm,/...to conclude,/ The victory fell on us" (Shakespeare 15, Act 1, scene 2, l 62 - 66). Although Macbeth, from this point, is led to wicked thoughts and acts by the prophecies of the three witches, his bravery and honour show up again in his final encounter with Macduff as he refuses to surrender despite knowing that he will surely be defeated. Knowing that he will be killed because all three of the witches' prophecies came true, Macbeth rejects surrender saying "I will not yield,/ To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,...Though Birnam wood be come to Dunsinane, /And thou oppos'd, being of no woman born, / Yet I will try the last" (Shakespeare 249, Act 5, scene 8, l 32 - 37). Although Macbeth...

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