Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
Andrew Tegala January 1997 For Brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name… Show how he changes from respected general to tyrant.Is he to blame or are others responsible for his downfall? Macbeth is the general of the Scottish army, who has lead his men into a savage battle with the Norwegians, Highlanders and Western Islanders. He has boldly executed Macdonwald, who was recreant to his fatherland. He walks from the bloody terrain, triumphant of his achievement with his trustworthy companion Banquo. He is respected considerably and exceedingly appreciated by the King of Scotland, Duncan. O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman! As the story develops Macbeth transforms from a reputable man to an solitary oppressor with no purpose in life. He has nobody at his side and is surrounded by the enemies he has gained. For Brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name is the captain s image of the general. From his entrance into the play there is a sense of temptation and ambition surrounding Macbeth s character. His opening line: So foul and fair a day, I have not seen. echoes the lines Fair is foul and foul is fair; Hover through the fog and filthy air. Proclaimed by the witches who at the opening of the play establish the supernatural influence that shall secure a fundamental role within the tale. They meet him giving him an outline of possible future rewards. The sorcerers of evil tell him that he shall be Thane of Cawdor and King hereafter. Macbeth replies with Stay you, imperfect speakers tell me more! This suggests he is stimulated and intrigued by these irregular beings’ prophecies. Ross and Angus enter the scene at this point confirming what weird sisters had predicted. Macbeth, now deep in thought, considers his future: Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor. The greatest is behind. He then comments to himself in a soliloquy: Two truths are told As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme. Meanwhile back at Macbeth s castle, his dear spouse is reading a letter from her beloved husband, telling her of the weird sisters’ predictions. She is very pleased for him giving her full support. She then learns of King Duncan s visit that night, the opportunity has emanated, calling upon evil spirits to make her relentlessly murder Duncan. Macbeth arrives, suddenly compelled to act upon the situation that could prove lead to a true destiny. Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor, Greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter, Thy letters have transported me beyond This ignorant present, and I feel now The future in the instant. It then becomes evident that Lady Macbeth is going to plan the whole event, telling her precious to disguise his feelings: Look like th innocent flower, But be the serpent under t. The King arrives, greeted intimately by the hostess Lady Macbeth. He comments on how he feels complaisant, contented at their castle. This castle hath a pleasant seat. Outside the banqueting hall Macbeth soliloquises over the decision to assassinate Duncan. If it were done, when tis done, then twere well. It were done quickly. He is indefinite and begins to analyse his position. He s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject. Trying to understand why he must put his cousin to death: I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only Vaulting ambition which o erleaps itself, And falls on the other- Macbeth has changed his mind by the time Lady Macbeth finds him. We will proceed no further in this business, he says replying to his wife s questioning. She is scornful of his decision, orally attacking him to counter act his cowardice. Macbeth begins to waver as his wife explains her plan. He is impressed by both her attitude and plan. This is shown in his speech: Bring forth men-children only, For thy undaunted mettle should compose Nothing but males. Will it not be received, When we have marked with blood those sleepy two Of his own chamber, and used their very daggers, That they have done t? He concludes as every scene does with a couplet: Away, and mock the time the fairest show: False face must hide what the false heart doth known. The evil deed shall now continue. Banquo and his son Fleance having just left Duncan are on their way to bed. Banquo brings up the subject of witchcraft as they meet Macbeth. I dreamt last night of the three Weird Sisters. To you they have shown some truth. Macbeth replies I think not of them. Hinting for Banquo s support in the future, Macbeth is disappointed as his devoted comrade states clearly of his dignified nature meaning he will only act honourably. Alone with only the thought of a great future ahead of him, Macbeth s deepest doubts and worries cause him to hallucinate and see a dagger before him, an illusion striking fear into what he must do, that cannot be undone. He hears the signal, a ringing bell that summonses him to commit the ruthless murder of King Duncan. I go, and it is done. The bell invites me. Hear it not Duncan, or it is a knell That summons thee to heaven or hell. Lady Macbeth eagerly awaits her husbands return form Duncan s sleeping chamber. He enters bloodstained, thought of deep damnation still vivid in his mind, clutching the weapons of implementation. His wife forces him to pull himself together. Refusing to take the daggers back to the murder scene, Macbeth in his now unstable condition speaks of murdering sleep. Methought I heard a voice cry Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep, the innocent sleep, Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care, The death of each day s life, sore labour s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature s second course, Chief nourisher in life s feast. Lady Macbeth takes them as the sound of knocking upon the castle gate, can be heard. She returns with squalid hands of the barbaric crime she and her husband have perpetrated. The knocking continues as Lady Macbeth, resolves her distraught consort with: My hands are of your colour; but I shame To wear a heart so white. I hear knocking A little water clears of this deed. Macbeth regrets his doing before retiring to bed: To know my deed, twere best not know myselfWake Duncan with thy knocking. I would if thou couldst. Macduff and Lennox arrive awaiting Macbeth s arrival. He enters and Macduff goes to awaken Duncan as arranged. Lennox reports the abnormal events of the night: The night has been unruly. Where we lay, Our chimneys were blown down, and as they say Lamentings heard I th air, strange screams of death, Macduff enters overwhelmed, dumbfounded by the sight of Duncan s demise. O horror, horror horror! Tongue nor heart Cannot conceive or name thee. Lennox and Macbeth go to investigate, while Macduff arouses the rest of the house. Banquo, Lady Macbeth, Malcolm and Donalbain are told the news of Duncan s assassination. His guards are assumed responsible. Macbeth gravely announces to the party that he has killed the sentries in an act of love for Duncan. Macduff questions his feat: Wherefore did you do so? In this situation of great tension Macbeth gives a distorted explanation for his impetuous demeanour. Lady Macbeth covers for him by collapsing: Help me hence ho! are her words which draw the attention of the guests. As she is carried out for treatment Banquo takes charge of the predicament, making everyone swear an oath of right cause. Everyone except Malcolm and Donalbain, Duncan s sons go to get dressed. Fearing for their lives, oblivious of the murderer s motives, the brothers decide to flee. Malcolm to England and Donalbain to Ireland allowing them to be suspects and Macbeth to be seen as the next King. Macbeth is crowned at Scone, but perceives insecure on the throne: To be thus is nothing but to be safely thus. This leads us to believe that the new monarch is not satisfied with his position and it’s security. He fears Banquo, bitter that if all of the witches prognostications are substantial, he has murdered Duncan for the benefit of his true colleague’s descendants. It becomes solemnly apparent that parsimonious Macbeth craves for Kingship and will not tolerate anyone, even his finest friend. His state of intellect is in deep questioning at this moment in the play. He persuades two murderers that Banquo has been the source of all their adversity. They are uncertain but the monarch urges them to become real men and carry out the carnage of Banquo and Fleance. They agree. Macbeth is no longer confiding in his wife. Lady Macbeth is uneasy, not showing to her husband how she feels about his current position. Her first line reminds the audience that she is unaware of the events in the previous scene. Is Banquo gone from Court? She implores Macbeth to look ahead to the future, but he feels satisfied with his plan, that shall be carried out that evening. Trying not to give too much detail away, Macbeth says she will approve. His objective is visible and he is in confident mood through the lines: Whom we to gain our peace, have sent to peace, Than on the torture of the mind to lie. In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave, After life s fitful fever he sleeps well, Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing, Can touch him further. Meaning they killed Duncan to satisfy their ambition securely. Macbeth states his mind to be: O full of scorpions is my mind dear wife. The two murderers are joined by a third who has been sent by Macbeth to make certain of their duties. They await Banquo s return to the palace. He is savagery attacked but in the confusion Fleance escapes. As Macbeth and Lady Macbeth welcome guests to the banquet at the palace, the first murderer brings news to the King, of Banquo s death. Displeased at the news of Fleance s flight he bids the killer away and returns to the banquet. He begins to sit down but sees Banquo s spectre. He reacts inexplicably which startles his supportive company of thanes, as they begin the feast. Lady Macbeth justifies his demonstration of insanity. Drawing him aside to orally criticise his irrational behaviour: O proper stuff! This is the very painting of your fear. This is the air-drawn dagger which you said Led you to Duncan, O these flaws and starts, Impostor to true fear, would well become A woman s story at a winter s fire, Authorised by her grandam. Shame itself, Why do you make such faces? When all s done, You look but on a stool. Macbeth rejoins his visitors when the spectre disappears but his fit soon comes back on the spirits re-entry. Once again his wife stands by him propelling the guests to leave even though Macbeth s fit has come to an end but she fears he will say too much. I pray you speak not; he grows worse and worse. Question enrages him. At once, good night. Stand not upon the order of your going. But go at once. The strain of the evenings events have been too much for Lady Macbeth she excuses Macbeth’s state has been caused by the lack of sleep: You lack the seasons of all natures, sleep. Macbeth still searches for destiny and reassurance and will gain these only from the witches. His bloody course shall continue: Come, we ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuse Is the initiate fear, that wants hard use. We are yet but young in deed. Lennox tells another lord the occurrence at Macbeth s banquet and the precarious state of his mind. The lord brings news of Malcolm being welcomed at the English Court. He also tells Lennox that Macduff is persuading Edward the Confessor to provide an army to defeat Macbeth and restore peace to Scotland. The three witches prepare their cauldron, as they anticipate in earnest Macbeth s arrival. He arrives commanding the witches to tell him: How now you secret, black, and midnight hags! What is t you do? He looks in the cauldron where the First Apparition emerges, a helmeted head warning Macbeth to be cautious of Macduff. Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth, beware Macduff Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough. The second more potent than the first showing a bloody child. Informs him that no man of woman born can harm him. Be bloody be bold and resolute; laugh to scorn The power of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth. The Third and final Apparition shows a crowned child, with a tree in his hand. It notifies Macbeth that when Birnham Wood moves to Dunsinane he shall be beaten. Be lion-mettled, proud and take no care
Who chafes, who frets, or where consipirers are. Macbeth shall never vanquish be, until Great Birnham wood to high Dunsinane hill Shall come against him. All these visions give Macbeth a fresh boost of confidence and invulnerability. Macbeth insists to know more: I will be satisfied. Deny me this, And an eternal curse fall on you. Let me know. Why sinks that cauldron, and what noise is this? They conjure up a show of eight kings, the last with a glass in his hand, Banquo following. Macbeth replies: Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo. Down! The Conjurers vanish, leaving Macbeth standing, talking to thin air as Lennox enters the scene. Despite his attitude to Macbeth from the previous scene, he asks the lord if he has seen the Weird Sisters, but he has not. However the Thane has news of Macduff being in England. It becomes manifest that the King will seize upon this opportunity and butcher the apostate s family. The castle of Macduff I will surprise, Seize upon Fife, give to the edge o th sword His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool; This deed I ll do before this purpose cool. But no more sights! Where are these gentlemen? Come bring me where they are. Macbeth feels his plans have been thwarted by the Thane of Fife. This time he will take no prisoners, he will act swiftly cutting down Macduff s household while the purpose is still fresh. At Macduff s castle Lady Macduff is told of her husband’s journey to England by Ross, another Scottish Thane. She believes her husband is acting very selfishly, leaving her and his children at a very dangerous epoch. She sees him as a traitor to his family, but Ross assures her and her son that he is acting upon the locality. Ross leaves after making sure that they are condoled. Lady Macbeth and her son clearly a share a moment of true love at Ross departure. A messenger enters warning her of advancing danger. Feeling she has done nothing wrong, she hesitates for a moment, as the murderers enter. Her son is massacred before her eyes He has killed me mother, Run away I pray you. On her son s commandment she scurries crying Murder but her own death is condensed by only a few moments. At the English court, Macduff is seeking Malcolm s help. However the Prince of Cumberland is suspicious of him. What I believe, I ll wail; What I know, believe; and what I can redress, As I shall find the time to friend, I will. What you spoke, it may be so perchance. This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues, Was once thought honest, you have loved him well; He hathed not touched you yet. I am young or something You may discern of him through me, and wisdom To offer up a weak, poor, innocent lamb T appease an angry god. Malcolm s attitude to Macduff alarms him, responding with: Bleed, bleed poor country; Scotland’s harvests have been failing and the country is in desrepair under Macbeth’s rule.Duncan s son gathers that as much as he fears for his homeland. It will be worse off when Macbeth is eliminated from power. When Malcolm comes to the throne, the people will want Macbeth back. Macduff is overwhelmed by the heir s claim that his lust has no bounds: Boundless intemperance In nature is tyranny. Assuring him that it will not be a problem. Macduff is more concerned with Malcom s self-confessed greed, but he says that too can be overcome. However when Malcolm claims that he has no qualities of a king, Macduff is in deep despondency: O Scotland, Scotland! This reaction convinces Malcolm that Macduff is loyal. All of what he has said has been untrue, just a mere test of Macduff s loyalty. Confused and bewildered Macduff is told an army has been raised to overthrow Macbeth. Ross arrives with news of Scotland s suffering, the harvests are failing under the dictator s control. He avoids giving Macduff news of his family s slaughter, but finally clarifies all. Overcome and unable to understand, Macduff blames himself for the killings. Malcolm compels him to be enraged and seek out revenge. Be comforted. Let s make our medicines of our great revenge To cure this deadly grief. He promises to settle the score with Macbeth on the battlefield. They leave to join up with the English forces and march to Scotland. Back at Macbeth s castle; Lady Macbeth s lady-in-waiting has called upon a doctor, to watch her mistress sleepwalk. For two nights Lady Macbeth has not stirred, but she now enters carrying a candle. She seems to be washing her hands, giving reference to earlier in the play; when she stated that a little water clears us of this deed . She speaks of the deaths of Duncan, Lady Macduff and unknown to the doctor Banquo, alarming him even more, the death of Banquo. He concludes that her Majesty needs a priest a rather that a physician, warning the gentlewoman to keep a watchful eye over her, making sure he has no way of harming herself. Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deeds Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets. More needs she the divine than the physician. And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night: My mind she has mated, amazed my sight. I think but dare not speak. Scottish forces are gathering near Dunsinane to join with the English army, led by Macduff, Malcolm and the Earl of Northumberland, Siward. The Scots move to Birnham to meet Malcolm s forces. Macbeth is with only the support of mercenaries, deserted by most of his followers. He is extremely agitated. He is loudly confident of his success by the apparitions, but this violent scorn towards the servant shows that he is temperamental. Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, Thou lily-livered boy. Regretting that he is without true friends, Macbeth is told by the doctor that Lady Macbeth s condition is not medical. Not so sick my lord, As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies That keep her from her rest. He asks the doctor to find a cure to get rid of the English army from Scotland, still deciding whether or not to wear his armour.The infantries join at Birnham Wood. Malcolm orders everyone to carry a branch as camouflage.Confident that he can withstand the siege, Macbeth hears news of Lady Macbeth s suicide from Seyton. She would have died hereafter. He reflects upon the insignificance of life: Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; A messenger reports that Birnham Wood moves towards Duninsaine. Deciding that there is no point in running or waiting he goes to face the enemy. The attacking army hurl their branches to the ground, as Malcolm gives the instruction to begin the battle. Macbeth has no alternative. He must confront his opponents. He kills Young Siward, but Macduff is imminent. Old Siward tells the castle has been restrained. Macduff apprehends Macbeth and they fight. Macbeth says Macduff is wasting his time, believing still that no man of woman born may harm him. Macduff says: Despair thy charm, And let the angel whom thou still hast served Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother s womb Untimely ripped. Deeply disheartened Macbeth refuses to fight on, but threats from Macduff force him to continue. He is killed and the war is won. The triumphal army are counting their losses. Siward learns of his son s death but feels he has performed his duty, refusing to mourn as it is now in God s care. Macduff brings in Macbeth s head on a stake. Malcolm, the new King, promises to reward everyone who deserves it. He invites everyone present, to his coronation, intending to condemn all those who committed atrocities for Macbeth. The witches are first to influence Macbeth stirring his ambition with their prophecies. All Hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All Hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All Hail Macbeth, that shall be King hereafter! Hecate, the Queen of Witchcraft, later in the play is angry with the sorcerers for speaking with Macbeth without consulting her beforehand. Macbeth is merely interested in what he can gain from the supernatural. And, which is worse, all of you have done Hath bee for a wayward son,Spiteful, and wrateful, who as others do,Loves for his own ends, and not for you. She tells the Weird Sisters to prepare for his second visit. To conjure up illusions, which will give Macbeth a false boost of confidence, that shall lead him to his ruin. Lady Macbeth was determined to help her husband become King. When the opportunity arose that Duncan would be staying with them overnight, she persuades Macbeth to go precede with the King s murder. Even though at one point the Thane had reverted, deciding not to assassinate his cousin. Orally attacking him with: Was the hope drunk Wherein you dressed yourself? And lived a coward in thine own esteem, She brands him a timid and weak man who has not loved her appropriately. Influenced now by his wife, he is compelled to act and carry out the murder of the King. Banquo, Macbeth s devoted companion observed to the prophecies from the Weird Sisters yet, like a true friend withheld all knowledge of anything. He became suspicious of the death of Duncan and should have foreseen Macbeth s next actions. Thou hast it now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird sisters promised and I fear Thou play dst foully for it; Banquo should have told others, of what he suspected Macbeth s wrong doing. Some element of blame therefore falls upon him for not doing so and this leads to his own death. Malcolm and Donalbain who fled on the morning of their father s murder, allowing themselves to become suspects and permitting Macbeth to be seen as the next King of Scotland. If they had stayed, Macbeth would have more difficulty advancing to the throne, without spilling more blood in the process. The brothers did have their reasons for fleeing, fearing for their personal safety but this only gave the general easier access to Kingship. This murderous shaft that s shot Hath not yet lighted, our safest way Is to avoid the aim . But swift away. There s warrant in that theft Which steals itself, when there s not mercy left. Macduff who discovered Duncan s body, goes to the English Court to urge Edward the Confessor to provide an army so that Macbeth can be defeated. His family is killed in his absence by the order of Macbeth. The King is furious that Macduff has been avoiding him. Lady Macduff is enraged regarding Macduff s desertion. Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his babes, His mansion, and his titles in a place From, whence himself does fly? He loves us not; Macduff acted for the good of his country, which shows bravery. He knew that if he was unsuccessful he would be unable to return home. He had no reason to suspect that Macbeth would order a slaughter. He acted patriotically but without thoughts for the ones he loved most. The Lords of Scotland acted with great ignorance towards Macbeth s instability at the banquet. They clearly saw a man, in a position of great power, whose mind was in a disconsolate way, but took no action. Lennox: Good night and better health attend his Majesty. Duncan is also responsible. He was na ve enough to give the title Thane of Cawdor from a previous traitor to another one. And with his former title greet Macbeth. What he lost noble Macbeth hath won. The King should have given more thought to the receiver of the title. Somebody he could trust and was well acquainted with. All the above played significant roles in the downfall of this respected general. Macbeth was firstly lead by his own desirous individuality at the beginning of the play. Intrigued by the witches prophecies, he wanted to further this knowledge to his advantage. Once the foremost title had been confirmed he began to review his future in detail. Directed by ambition he reconsiders killing Duncan,analysing the consequences of his actions. His wife thinks others otherwise compelling him to become a real man by killing Duncan for a true destiny. From this point onwards Macbeth is acting without reason causing blood shed to satisfy his insecurity. The tyrant is finally overwhelmed by the enemies he has gained from the atrocities he has committed. Which ultimately leads to his downfall. The killing of his best friend is the real turning point in the play. Murdering your trustworthy comrade in order to remain on the throne, deeply questions, deeply questions the state of his mind. This worsens when he orders the deaths of Macduff s family. The killing of a young child is not at all understandable. The great power of influence that people held over Macbeth lead to his demise. He did not heed his own personal instincts, letting others implement his sense of ambition and greed. The tale acquaints the audience that ambition and carnality are two different issues that should never be combined.