Macbeth Essay Essay, Research Paper
What makes a man? The fighting men seem to think that bravery; honour and standing to fight are all attributes that make a man. When young Siward dies all that his father is concerned about is that he was not a coward and was killed from the front “Had he his hurts before?” his answer comes back “Ay, on the front.” and so he replies “Why then, God’s soldier be he.”
Earlier in the play Duncan comes onto the stage and is confronted by the wounded captain who tells him about Macbeth’s exploits on the field of battle where upon Duncan calls Macbeth “Valiant cousin, worthy gentleman”. The captain also goes on to further praise Macbeth by answering Duncan’s question “Dismayed this not our captains, Macbeth and Banquo?” with “Yes, as sparrows, eagles, or the hare, the loin. If I say sooth I must report they were as cannons over-charged with double cracks.”
Lady Macbeth seems to think that to be a man you must kill someone to get higher status and she manages to convince Macbeth of this using her feminine wiles. Lady Macbeth so coverts the crown for her husband might that she taunts Macbeth about not being a man unless he kills for gain as, for her, a true man must be ambitious. Macbeth does not want to have to kill Duncan as he has honoured him lately, however Lady Macbeth is so avaricious she tries to get Macbeth to kill Duncan. “I dare do all that become a man,” says Macbeth. She says “how tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.” Indicating that she would keep her word, even if it meant that she would commit an act so vile in any view that she may be put to death. Therefore, if she could kill her own baby then Macbeth could kill the King as he had promised to do so. Macbeth uses the same tone to the murderers when he tries to get them to kill Banquo. They feel that though they don’t need to kill him while Macbeth wants someone else to do the dirty work. Although he does say, at one point, that he has gone so far he might as well carry on as go back for it would make no difference as to the length of his journey.
An important characteristic of a man is care for his family. At the beginning of the play Macduff and Macbeth are two very similar people. However, the three witches who prophesy that he would become Thane of Cawdor and then King tempted Macbeth. When he was made Thane of Cawdor his wife convinced him to kill Duncan to become king. Macbeth felt that by killing Duncan, and if necessary his children, he would become King himself, thus proving himself to be a man in his wife’s view. I suppose that had Macbeth not had Lady Macbeth then none of the play would have happened as it is undoubtedly his wife who sways Macbeth to the side of the Devil. I say this because Macduff and Macbeth were similar creatures at the start of the play but then the witches and Lady Macbeth turned Macbeth away from the path and took him into the dark and destroyed his Humanity. Macduff is a man of principle and he can not let Macbeth get away with the murder of the King. To show his disapproval he does not show up at Macbeth’s coronation and, later, flees to England where he will be able to avenge the death of Duncan. Although he thought his family were safe he made a fatal error in leaving his home unguarded. This leads to his young son trying to protect his mother, like the man of the house, and dying for his efforts. Macduff’s son is very protective of his father and he is enraged at the murderer who kills him for saying that Macduff is a traitor. Young Macduff is a very loyal young boy. When Macduff is told of his family’s murder he is advised to take revenge on the man who had ordered the killings, Macbeth. He replies “I must also feel it like a man.” To which he means that in addition to revenge he feels he must grieve for the loss of his family, as to him emotion is a strong part of being a man.
Malcolm attempts to gauge the loyalties of Macduff, as word has not yet reached of the death of Macduff’s family, and so he tries to suggest that Macduff is a spy for Macbeth. When those allegations are denied Malcolm tries to suggest that he is a vile person and that he has more evil qualities than Macbeth does. He does this to see whether or not Macduff is to be trusted, as if he was a spy he would stay even if Malcolm said he had qualities worse than Macbeth did.
When Macbeth sends killers to murder Banquo and Fleance Banquo shows a quality that is admirable in any man and needed in any father. As they are attacked Banquo takes it upon himself to fend off the killers while his son escapes. While he is dying he asks his to deliver vengeance upon those who have done this to him “Fly, Good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou mayst revenge.” By telling his son to flee rather than stay to help he is ensuring his lineage continues past the ambush, thus doing his last manly deed. However, in telling Fleance to flee he is also telling the boy that when he grows up he must take revenge on the murderers thereby being a man. On the subject of the murderers Macbeth used the same degrading talk to them as Lady Macbeth used on him before he killed Duncan. He convinces them that Banquo is their enemy and that they would be less than men if they did not kill him.
In conclusion, Lady Macbeth corrupted Macbeth into not being a man and then he corrupted other people by the same means that he was corrupted. He accused people of not being man enough to kill people or he tries to corrupt decent men, like Macduff, into doing something that a man would not do. The play, Macbeth, is all about ‘being a man’ it shows that the phrase means different things to different people. To be a man is so important that people’s actions can be influenced by the need to be seen to be manly. Macduff seems to be secure enough in who he is that he does not feel the need to make out that he is manly. However, Macbeth is less secure in himself and more ambitious than Macduff and allows himself to be persuaded to do that which he knows to be wrong in the pretence of being a man. As always there is a good and a bad side to everything.