At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is hailed as a war hero, by the end he has become an evil tyrant.
Explain: A) How Shakespeare conveys Macbeth’s moral decline.
B) Why this decline was inevitable.
Macbeth is a great example of how Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to convey the moral decline of a brave and admirable hero, into a regicide-committing evil tyrant. Macbeth is a great example as the character Macbeth starts the play as a brave and courageous war hero. However towards the end, Macbeth becomes a power-hungry, crazed lunatic who is easily manipulated by his wife. I feel his wife Lady Macbeth, was the one who actually craved power, but she could not get this herself, so she resorted to the above.
At the beginning of the play, Act one Scene one, the audience know that a man named Macbeth will meet with three witches in the future. Then in scene two, Shakespeare uses a conversation between a soldier and Duncan, to introduce Macbeth. The soldier describes Macbeth as “brave Macbeth” who “smok’d with bloody execution” in a battle. Duncan then replies by calling Macbeth a “worthy gentleman!” so why would this “brave”, “worthy gentleman” be meeting with three of the devil’s advocates? Already Shakespeare has made known to the audience that Macbeth will be the protagonist in one of his famous tragedies.
The audience then find that in Scene two of Act one, the three witches have met upon a heath. Macbeth described the day as “so foul and fair a day I have not seen”, this could be recognised as a description of Macbeths feelings, but as the witches make predictions about Macbeth, maybe Macbeth himself, could be predicting his own feeling in the future. The three witches hail Macbeth as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and “king hereafter”; this confuses Macbeth. He then calls them liars “imperfect speakers” , and tells them he is Thane of Glamis, “But how of Cawdor?”. Macbeth then goes on to describe Duncan as a prosperous gentleman, unlikely to die soon. And the prospect of Macbeth being king is unbelievable. He then questions them as to why they speak this “strange intelligence” and they simply vanish into the wind. Macbeth then jokes about this news with Banquo, which shows he does not believe what the witches say.
But then Ross and Angus enter, with Ross saying “call thee thane of Cawdor”. This confuses Macbeth as he then asks, “the thane of Cawdor lives: why do you dress me in borrow’d robes?” so Macbeth is certainly confused to the news that Ross brought him. Then Angus tells of how the Thane of Cawdor has “treasons capital, confess’d and proved have overthrown him”. Shakespeare then gives Macbeth a soliloquy where Macbeth is clearly confused but also joyous at the news that he is Thane of Cawdor, aswell as Glamis. With another soliloquy, Macbeth wonders who this “supernatural soliciting” with the witches is not “ill”-lies, then all they have said must be true. Macbeth then speaks of a “horrid image”, Macbeth now speaks of the witched predicting him to being king. this slightly scares him as he used the word horrid and the phrase “unfix my hair”-makes his hair stand on end. Macbeth then goes on to say that “if chance will have me king, why chance may crown me without my stir”, - if chance will make him king, he will not need to take action himself.
So already within one scene, Macbeth changed from being sceptical of the witch’s predictions to believing every aspect of what they have said. This shows that Macbeth is easily swayed by what people say.
In Act one scene four however, Macbeth discovers that Duncan’s son Malcom, who they name Prince of Cumberland, would be heir to the throne of Duncan. so Macbeth thinks of “the prince of Cumberland” As a step “on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap”, so Macbeth is saying that either he will let Malcolm become king, or he will have to basically get rid of Malcolm. At this point, Macbeth can no longer leave things to...
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