In Macbeth, the protagonist is a murderer from the beginning to the end of the play. However, through the use of soliloquies, aside, dramatic irony, imagery, choice of language and what other characters say about him, Shakespeare sculpts Macbeth into a walking contradiction, leaving the audience to vacillate between contrasting opinions of him. Through out eyes, Macbeth morphs continuously into different characteristics in the space of just a few lines- yet unlike a typical tragic protagonist, he remains as barbaric as he was at the beginning through to the end.
In the first scene, the witched are set in an atmosphere filled with a disturbing evil, reflected in the stormy weather, their fractured iambic pentameter and their use of cantatious rhyming couplets and alliteration- e.g. ‘fair is foul and foul is fair /Hover through the fog and filthy air.’ This possessed evil is shown in Macbeth with the first line he says in he play- ‘So foul and fair a day I have not seen.’ This gives the audience mixed feelings because it suggests that Macbeth is corrupt with evil already, as he echoes the witches. However the audience can feel a bit of sympathy because the witched are clearly unnatural and demonic creatures with an eerie power, so the corruption of Macbeth could have been completely out of his control.
When Macbeth first encounters these witches with Banquo, he and Banquo have very different approaches to them. Banquo is quite straight forward, seeing directly through their evil, challenges the witches with ‘If you can look into the seeds of time…Speak then to me.’ Contrary to Banquo Macbeth is speechless and ‘rapt withal’ when he first hears their news. He later questions their omens, with interest ‘Tell me more’. Compared to his friends, Macbeth is almost bewitched by the apparitions, and seems to believe what he is told, whilst Banquo is reasonable and even questions whether they had ‘eaten on the insane root, / That takes the reason prisoner’. This shows Macbeth’s weakness to the power of evil while it doesn’t affect Banquo, who even tells Macbeth about the witches tactics- ‘The instruments of darkness tell us truths, / Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s’ meaning that the witches are gaining their trust with small truths, to later betray them with lies.
After the battle, we learn quite a bit about Macbeth through what the other characters say when talking about him. The Captain, who was at the scene of the battle, describes Macbeth with high praise- ‘For brave Macbeth… Like Valour’s minion carved out his passage’ which suggests that Macbeth fights like bravery personified and doesn’t let anything get in his way. When he faced Macdonald, he ‘ne’er shook hands, not bade farewell to him’ showing that he didn’t waste time and knew his job in the battle. Although the fact he ‘unseamed [Macdonald] from the nave to th’chaps’ is supposed to show his bravery in killing Macdonald, it shows Macbeth as a ruthless killer. This creates mixed...