Critical Analysis: Macbeth

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In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, the hero, Macbeth, encounters an internal conflict that greatly impacts how the play unfolds and reveals the message within the work. This conflict originates from the prophecies of the Weird Sisters and later becomes worse through the sly trickery of Lady Macbeth. As a result an on-going thought runs through Macbeth’s mind, to kill Duncan or not to kill, that is the question.

During the period in which his conscience is still intact, the classic scene of the angel and the devil plagues Macbeth. On one shoulder Macbeth has the white angel, his conscience, and on the opposite sits the red devil, represented by the equivocations of the Weird Sisters and Lady Macbeth’s trickery. His conscience shows him all the reasons why he should not kill Duncan. Duncan is a charismatic king and has ruled Scotland well so far. Therefore his death would probably not be favored by many, will be taken as an act of betrayal and disloyalty, not relief. In committing murder, Macbeth risks disgracing his honor; he has proven to be a loyal subject, and is already portrayed as an honorable noble. If this conspiracy were to lead the investigators back to him, Macbeth’s entire life would be ruined.

On the other hand, his wife helps him to consider the optimistic side of killing Duncan. As king, Macbeth will have power beyond that of a noble. It will also fulfill his great desire for prestige. Lady Macbeth knows this so out of love for her husband, and perhaps even for her own benefit, she refuses to suffer her husband’s uncertainty and attacks Macbeth’s manhood in order to convince him to take this opportunity to achieve his ambitions by killing Duncan. And with this threat and his conscience shattered, Macbeth foolishly sets out to do the work of the devil, with only his ambitions on his mind.

Before the corruption of Macbeth’s mind by the witches and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth is characterized as a man of honor and morals. He is a noble and...
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