Macbeth Character Study Essay, Research Paper
Thesis: Macbeth’s changing character over the course of the play can be seen in his roles a general, husband and a king.I. GeneralA. Early in the play he is brave1. Captain reports2. Duncan conversationB. Late in the play he is ineffective1. Fearful2. CorneredII. HusbandA. Initially close to wife1. Confides in her via letter2. Has pet nameB. Later becomes distant/cold1. Tells doctor to cure Lady Macbeth2. Feels resignation, not anguish at her deathIII. KingA. At first is powerful1. Malcolm and Donaldbain free Scotland2. He succeeds in killing BanquoB. At end is powerless1. Fleance escapes2. Malcolm conquers ScotlandThe story of Macbeth is one of power at the expense of everything. The main character, Macbeth starts out greatly admired with strong character. As the play progresses, Macbeth’s personality and actions become more deceitful leading to his destruction. Macbeth’s changing character over the course of the play can be seen in his roles a general, husband and a king.First, Macbeth’s changing character is evident in his role as a general. As the play begins, he is a brave general, well respected by his peers. The captain returning from battle reports of this saying, “But all’s too weak; for brave Macbeth (he deserves that name)” (1.2. 17-18) Duncan later confers his title as king of Scotland, claiming, “No more that thane of Cawdor shall deceive our bosom interest. Go, pronounce his present death, and with his former title, greet Macbeth”. (1.3.73-76) These people trust in his strength and depend on him. However, as the play continues, Macbeth becomes ineffective as a general. He becomes fearful at the sight of Banquo’s ghost. He pretends to appear brave by saying, “Thou canst say I did it. Never shake thy gory locks at me,” (3.4.61-62) Macbeth is showing paranoia, a truly fearless General would not have fearful visions of those they have murdered. Macbeth’s sinful deeds not only lead him to be fearful but cornered as well. Siward, Malcolm and Macduff reveal Macbeth’s secret murders. Now that Macbeth’s secrets are out and he has no where to hide, he has to face MacDuff and meet his destiny. (5.8)Macbeth’s changing character is evident not only in his role as a general, but also in his role as a husband. Macbeth tells his wife everything and confides in her via letter. (1.5.1-14) He shares his most intimate feelings and secret plans. Macbeth even calls his wife “my dearest partner of greatness”. (1.5.11) This proves the affection and trust he has in Lady Macbeth. When Macbeth really needs someone to turn to, near the end of the play, he grows distant to his wife. Macbeth does not continue to go to her for advice. He even tells the doctor to cure her of her mental illness, and makes no effort himself to help cure her. (5.3.49-55) When Lady Macbeth dies, Macbeth states, ” She should have died hereafter. There would have been time for such a word.” He hears the news of his wife’s death, and reacts nonchalant and unemotional. Finally, Macbeth’s changing character is revealed not merely in his roles as a general and a husband, but as a king as well. Macbeth is such a strong ruler that he frightens Duncan’s two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain into fleeing Scotland. These men fear the wrath of their king so intensely that they feel the need to run and hide. Malcolm explains “This murderous shaft that’s not hath yet lighted, and our safest way is to avoid aim. Therefore to horse, and let us not be dainty of leave – lacking but shift away.”(2.3.167-171) Macbeth is also such a strong ruler that he can get away with murder. He succeeds in killing Banquo, fellow commander of the Scottish army. He hired three murderers to do the job for fear of Banquo’s suspicion in the murder of Duncan. (3.3) The more Macbeth tries to cover up, the more powerless he becomes as King. He does not succeed in killing Fleance; Macbeth is powerless to stop Fleance’s escape. (3.4.22) Macbeth is out of control. He winds up being murdered by MacDuff, leaving Malcolm as ruler of Scotland. This event leaves everyone acclaiming “Hail king of Scotland.” (5.8.70) to their new king.The multiple roles of Macbeth as a general, a husband and a king all show his changing character throughout Macbeth. The play portrays the complete evolution of Macbeth’s personality. It follows him from being a respectable person down the shameful path he takes to self-destruction. Everything about Macbeth falls apart and he loses control. Shakespeare’s message is that nothing good comes out of destroying others on your way to the top, even if you seem to get away with it.