Macbeth's Transformation from a Respected Leader to a Despised and Isolated Tyrant

Topics: Macbeth, Macduff's son, Lady Macduff Pages: 4 (1519 words) Published: December 29, 2012
If we are to experience tragic empathy with our protagonist, it is essential to acknowledge that he is no shallow killer but a man who moves tragically from a respected leader to a despised and isolated tyrant. It is this decline which constitutes his personal transformation. Helen Gardner describes Macbeth’s transformation as a path to damnation beginning at one extreme and ending at the other: “From a brave and loyal general, to a treacherous murderer, to a hirer of assassins, to an employer of spies, to a butcher, to a coward, to a thing with no feeling for anything but itself, to a monster and a hell-hound.” The opening plaudits of the play present Macbeth as a military hero with references to him as “brave Macbeth”, “Valour’s minion” and “Bellona’s bridegroom”. We are told of his success in war but through the descriptions of his actions on the battlefield, we learn that he is a man well accustomed to bloodshed and slaughter. We wonder should this have been a warning to us from the very beginning that he has no problem with the aspect of killing people? However, we await his personal arrival to assess his moral character. Confronted with witches and their prophecy about his future kingship, Macbeth cannot but be deeply disturbed and excited. He is impatient to hear more from the Witches about the prophecy, “Stay, you imperfect speakers.” We are now aware of Macbeth’s “”vaulting ambition” as he is curious to hear more of what the Witches have to say. This is the first step in his alteration from a state of “human kindness” to that of a “dead butcher”. Macbeth is instantly promoted to Thane of Cawdor and he cannot help taking the Witches and their prophecies even more seriously. Temptation enters his mind, overcome with thoughts of murder and the possibility of becoming king. After the first prophecy has been fulfilled, Macbeth starts to think of committing regicide by murdering Duncan and seizing the crown. However, Lady Macbeth fears that he is too good a...
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