Macbeth-A Tragic Depiction Of Heroism Essay, Research Paper
Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, is a tragic
depiction of a man who has earned great respect and honor through his fearless defense of a great nation. However; Macbeth, being easily influenced by words of self-interest, plans an intrigue against his king in the hopes that it might fulfill a prophecy that was given to him by a supernatural being. The character of Macbeth
is drawn from people in history, yet Shakespeare has softened a little some of the most rugged features; he shows him doubtful and irresolute about the murder of the king, spurred on by ambition to commit it, but restrained by his abhorrence of the action, and when by the instigation of his wife he is prevailed upon to do
it, his mind is afterwards filled with remorse, and all the uneasy sensations that attend repentant guilt(Lennox, 172).
In Act I of the play Macbeth is confronted by the
three witches who foretell the future. shortly after the predictions Macbeth is named Thane of Cawdor. “Two truths are told, as happy prologues to the swelling act of the imperial theme.11(l.3.128-130). At this point Macbeth realizes that the witches could be accurately describing what is in his near future. However, he doesn’t realize that it is at this point that his plot to kill the king begins. The letter he writes to Lady Macbeth serves no better purpose than to be an invitation to his involuntary consent to commit murder.
Lady Macbeth is a character of great influence.
“Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’the mile of human kindness to catch the nearest way”(1.5. 16-18). She knows that Macbeth1s pugnacious nature is relaxed off the battlefield, and she fears that Macbeth is too kind-hearted to do what is necessary in order to take the throne. Lady Macbeth uses her sexuality to put
Macbeth in a state of mind that best fits her
preconceived opinion of what is expected of him. ‘1Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it.11(l.5 18-20).
Macbeth knows that killing King Duncan is unlawful, but Lady Macbeth has convinced him that murder is the easiest way to get what he believes is rightfully his. However, he is scared that his nerve will fail him before he carries out the devilish task. “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well it were donequickly.” (1.7. 1-2).
It is evident that Macbeth senses a feeling of
immorality on many different occasions before the murder of King Duncan, but Lady Macbeth continually reminds him of his ambition and restores his nerve in seemingly justified ways. She tells him, “Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,” ‘Like the poor cat:’th’adage?”(1.7. 45-46). He speaks of failure and she says, “We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail.1′(1.7. 60-62.). Lady Macbeth completed a successful brainwashing. She has convinced Macbeth that “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” (1.7. 83).
Finally, Macbeth feels that he has what it takes to carry out the plan that had been laid out so carefully and intricately by the Mrs. However, on his way to Duncan’s chamber he begins to hallucinate, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”(2.l. 34-35). Even though Macbeth’s ambition along with the instigating of his wife have seemingly justified what he is about to do, his hallucination foreshadows the mental instability ahead of him.
After the murder of Duncan, Macbeth instantly shows signs of remorse. “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep”(2,2, 39-40) Macbeth realizes that he is no longer going to be able to sleep. His guilty conscience will not allow it. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” (22.64-67). Macbeth’s hands symbolize blood shed. No matter how hard he tries to justify what he has done, he is directly responsible for the death of Duncan, and no amount of water can cleanse his soul of such a great burden.
In Act III of the play, Shakespeare takes Macbeth’s Soul and drives it even further into damnation through the murder of Banquo. “We have scorched the snake, not killed it.” (3.2. 14). He knows that what he has started by killing Duncan is not over. Banquo was present at the time of the witches predictions. He knows that he can not survive as King unless Banquo is dead.
Following the murder of Banquo, Macbeth begins to realize that he has been covered with a blanket of evil. “I am cabined, cribed, confined, bound into saucy doubts and fears.” (3.4. 24-25). It is at this point in the play that Macbeth truly begins to lose his grip on reality. He begins having hallucinations. He sees the ghost of Banquo. “Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold, thou hast no speculation in those eyes which thou dost glare with” (3.4. 95-97). Macbeth’s guilty conscience is destroying his sanity He becomes
hysterical as the uneasy sensations of guilt and remorse overwhelm him. ‘I am in blood, stepped in so far that, should I wade no more”(3.4. 137-138). Macbeth comes to the realization that he can not continue living his life in a manner consistent to that of a murderer. He feels that he is too young to be experiencing all the evil and guilt that surrounds him.
In Act V, the final act of the play, Macbeth as
well as Lady Macbeth have both lost all conception of what it feels like to live a normal life. After Lady Macbeth dies there is no longer a familiar facet to attend Macbeth’s crazy notions.
Macbeth is still under the impression that he will never be defeated. However, his servant brings unhappy news. He tells of the English soldiers advancing up the hill to the castle under the cover of “Great Birnam Wood.” It is at this time that Macbeth realizes his defeat close at hand. “I am sick at heart.1′(5.3. 19-20) “I have lived long enough. My way of life is fall’n into the sere, the yellow leaf.11(5.3. 22-23). Macbeth’s life has been shattered by bloodshed and hatred. He accepts the fact that he is going to be defeated.
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”(5.5. 24-28). Macbeth knows that he is not only going to be defeated, but killed as well. He knows that his life has been nothing more than a game. He watched, listened, and cheated. Now it is time to die, and re realizes all the struggles truly amount to nothing in the end.
Macbeth, a man of ambition, a man of lost nerve, is finally convinced that murder is the best way to achieve a very honorable goal. The abhorrence of the action is very small when it is aired with the instigation of a very beautiful woman. However; his remorse and guilt, two tragic downfalls, are enough to drive him made and eventually to his demise.