Sympathy For Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
A tragedy is a drama that involves the tragic downfall or demise of the main character in the play. Shakespeare s The Tragedy of Macbeth, is the story of a thane, Macbeth, who murders his king, Duncan, for personal gains. Despite Macbeth s negative attributes, (greed, corruption, paranoia, etc . . .) the reader pities Macbeth. Shakespeare forces the audience to react sympathetically to Macbeth through use of Macbeth s actions, dialogue, and passion. Judging Macbeth superficially by his actions alone leaves the reader no choice but to consider him evil and immoral; yet, when one examines the full presentation of the character and understands his mental anguish, a feeling of sympathy is evoked.
Throughout the story there is a feeling of animosity toward Macbeth in response of his deleterious actions. However, scenes revealing Macbeth s more admirable side balance that negative feeling. One instance where the reader feels pity for Macbeth appears in the dialogue immediately before Macbeth decides whether or not to kill King Duncan. Macbeth is unsure of the morality of the murder. During much self-deliberation he agonizes in the monologue, I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed (Act I, Scene ii). While Macbeth contemplates whether murdering Duncan is feasible, Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth he would murder Duncan if he were truly brave and masculine. Lady Macbeth goes on to remark that if he murders Duncan, Macbeth would be so much more the man (Act I, Scene vii). A weak Macbeth gives in to his wife s badgering and manipulation and reluctantly agrees to participate in the murder. The audience feels sympathy for an insecure Macbeth as he begins his spiral into ultimate destruction.
Another instance where Macbeth seems weak and pitiable is at the banquet held in his honor. Before the dinner party begins, Macbeth orders the assassination of his friend Banquo. After Banquo is killed, his ghost attends Macbeth s banquet yet is visible to only Macbeth. The chain of events that occurs at the party lends sympathy for Macbeth. His deteriorating mental state becomes known to all when Macbeth first beholds the ghost. He cries out to the guests inquiring who has played the cruel trick. Macbeth in horror yells to the ghost, Thou canst say I did it. Never shake thy gory locks at me (Act III, Scene iv). Eventually Macbeth goes into a rage and cowers before the ghost of Banquo begging it to to quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee! (Act III, Scene iv). Meanwhile, the guests, oblivious to the ghost, watch Macbeth s tantrum and his recoil. The reader feels pity for a defenseless Macbeth as it becomes evident Macbeth s mental balance is diminishing, and this ghost is a direct result of Macbeth s guilty conscience. Macbeth, who was once a strong, righteous character, has turned into a paranoid shell of a man.
Possibly Macbeth s most hopeless moment occurs moments before he is slain by Macduff, a man of stronger constitution. The desperation Macbeth exhibits in this final act allows the audience to sympathize with him. Until the last moment, Macbeth clings to a hope he will somehow survive the siege of his castle. Macduff crushes Macbeth s last hope when he informs Macbeth of his cesarean birth from a corpse. This revelation fulfills the prophecy of Macbeth s doom. Though Macbeth recognizes he will be butchered, he will not yield or surrender to Macduff (Act V, Scene viii). Macbeth shows he is still very human and vows he will try to the last (Act V, Scene viii). The reader feels sympathy for Macbeth because of his brave display of conviction and pursuit of honorable death. Macbeth dies with dignity by not trying to fight his fate, also invoking pity from the reader.
Despite Macbeth s reprehensible deeds, Shakespeare makes the audience react with sympathy towards Macbeth. Macbeth, a victim of his own ambition, breaks down mentally becoming overly paranoid. At the end of the play, Macbeth attempts to regain some dignity by dying with courage and not fighting his fate. Indeed, when one examines the presentation of Macbeth and not just his actions, one feels sympathy for the tragic hero.