This essay will attempt to explore what the play ‘Macbeth’ suggests about the states of minds of both the titular character Macbeth, and his scheming wife Lady Macbeth, using extracts from Act 1, Scene 7. I will also examine how the language used emphasises the key themes and ideas within the play. The characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are revealed and developed through their dialogues with use of soliloquies and asides, helping to reveal their personalities, states of mind, emotions and motivation. Much figurative language and imagery is used by Shakespeare to emphasise the themes within the play, creating atmosphere and mood in order to achieve dramatic outcome (109). Initially eager to have the deed done, he would have it done sooner rather than later and hope for the murder to be the finish of it all:
Act 1, Scene 7 comes directly before the murder of Duncan, and sees Macbeth considering the deed. Macbeth exhibits telling signs of an unbalanced mind and of his impending madness very clearly in this scene. This opposed state of mind; his internal struggle between right and wrong, is suggested throughout his soliloquy in lines 1-28. Although earlier in the play he is in favour of the murder of Duncan, here his doubtful state of mind becomes evident. The used in the first lines emphasises the importance of this speech ‘If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it where done quickly’ (1-2)
...if the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here
Likening the carrying out of the murder to the act of gathering everything up in a net, he is prepared to suffer any consequences in the after-life, so as to forego any on earth, but recognises the impossibility of this.
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We'd jump the life to come. But in these cases
We still have judgment here; that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor:
Here, Macbeth compares the assassination to a new life – but only if it were possible for it to be carried out quickly and eschew all negative consequences. This reference to blood in ‘bloody instructions’ represents Macbeth’s guilt at even contemplating this terrible crime. He reminds himself that his skill for killing has indeed been learnt for the benefit of the king, and now he shall use this skill against the king, but there is always that possibility that the same talent may be used against him.
Macbeth assumes that justice makes us pay for our actions with the same fate in ‘commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice to our own lips’ . The theme of Regicide is given great prominence here and there is also a suggestion of the mutilation of a natural order of things – the king was believed to have been chosen by Divine Right, and so murdering a king would be an act of gross iniquity.
The frailty of Macbeth’s mind becomes increasingly evident as his doubts escalate and, aware of the seriousness of the intended crime, he fears whether the deed should be done at all: ‘he’s here in double trust, first I am his kinsman…not bear the knife myself’ (12-16.) He considers reasons he should defend rather than threaten the life of Duncan as he is his King and guest, reminding himself of the loyalty expected of him: ‘this Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office, that his virtues will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued’ of ‘(16-19) noting that Duncan is a virtuous but ‘meek’ King and how he would be lamented , as opposed to how Macbeth would be perceived. This could be said to reflect the theme of good, i.e. Duncan, versus evil, i.e. Macbeth. Pity is personified as ‘a naked newborn babe’ saying that this baby (Pity) will emit such a distressing cry telling the world that Macbeth murdered Duncan....
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