Macbeth Essay Research Paper In class we

Macbeth Essay, Research Paper

In class, we have recently read a play, Macbeth , by the world-renowned English playwright, William Shakespeare.

In this critical evaluation, I intend to discuss how Macbeth, a tragic hero, becomes a tyrant, and in doing so, destroys himself.

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, in the 16th century. He was truly a man of the theatre. Since 1590, the theatre was Shakespeare s life, as an actor, as a manager and as a playwright. He even used the language of the stage in parts of his plays, for example when Macbeth responded to the fact that the witches 2nd prophecy had come true, he said:

Two truths are told

As happy prologues to the swelling act

Of the Imperial theme

(Act 1, scene 3, lines 127-129).

The main story of Macbeth was a derivative of a true story, but with more than a little help from artistic license, Shakespeare was able to take Holinshed s historic account of what really happened, muddle it up a bit, make up a lot, and put together an excellent play that has been studied for over 400 years.

At the beginning of the play, evil was introduced almost immediately. The three witches would have shocked the rowdy Elizabethan audience into silence, because to them, witches were very real, and were seen as the devil s representatives on Earth, as priests are to God.

Before the arrival of the witches, the audience would have been introduced to the hero, Macbeth, and his friend, ally and colleague, Banquo.

We learn of Macbeth s brutality early on:

Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements

Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements

(Act 1, scene2, lines 21-22)

This means that he cut Macdonwald (a traitor) open from the stomach to the jaws, before beheading him. This open show of brutality was not looked upon as bad, however, because Macbeth was using his brutality for the common good, that is defending his King and country.

We are also introduced early on to the element in Macbeth s character, which could cause problems, which is ambition. We learn that Macbeth wants to be King.

The play has been written in the traditional five acts, in which Shakespeare many plays. Most of the play was written in blank verse, which means that the words are poetry, but do not rhyme. There are some scenes in which prose is put to good use, for example the scene with the porter, just after the death of King Duncan.

Before Macbeth actually killed Duncan, he had some intense conflict within himself, wrestling with his conscience. We can see that Macbeth is scared of hell when he says:

We still have judgement here- that we but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor

(Act 1, scene 7, l 8-10)

Although Macbeth evidently has a conscience, he is highly capable of killing. We see this when he slays Duncan s two guards, blaming them for his death.

After the death of Duncan in act 2, scene 2, Macbeth plans the death of his close friend and colleague, Banquo. This is because Banquo was present when the witches prophesied that Macbeth would be king, and knew that Macbeth was capable of using foul means to get what he wanted. Banquo was also given a prophecy, that he would be the father of kings. Macbeth wanted his children to carry on the throne, not someone else s. Macbeth said:

To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus

He was talking about being king. At a royal banquet, Macbeth loses his cool, when he sees Banquo sitting in his seat. He then sees a procession of kings, led by Banquo, who were all evidently Banquo s descendants.

At this point, Macbeth has no trust in anybody, and reveals that he has placed spies in every noble s household. This is when he truly becomes a tyrant. When he begins to kill people who disagree with him, he is a tyrant, or a dictator.

In the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Macduff, a Scottish noble, are friends, but Macbeth fears him at this point. This is because he is suspicious over the death of Banquo. When Macbeth turns into a tyrant, he sends soldiers to Macduff s castle, to kill his wife, children and servants, as Macduff is in England. This is the lowest thing that a man could do to another. Macbeth used Macduff s family to get to him.

Macbeth could no longer be caught, and he visited the witches for a second time. They tell him that he would only be defeated when the woods of Birnam come to his castle at Dunsinane. They also tell him that he would not be defeated by anyone born of woman.

Lady Macbeth s psychological health is deteriorating here, and she is seen by a doctor, who thinks that she needs a priest more than a doctor, but she was going insane, not possessed.

As Macbeth is warned of the advancing enemy, he is also alerted to the passing of his wife. He shows that he still has a human side in a touching soliloquy.

Macbeth knows that he will be defeated in this final battle, but instead of running away, he asks for his armour, and dies fighting, beheaded by Macduff.

In my opinion, this was a play about royalty, for royalty, and showed remarkable wit and excellent use of characters and language. Once again, Mr Shakespeare has proven to all of us his prowess as a writer, and as an actor, as this play was written not to be read, but to be performed.


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