The Change in the Public Image of Macbeth

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In the Shakespearean play Macbeth, the main character is seen as a tragic hero. The character of Macbeth appears to be an extreme form of paranoia in relation to today's society. This character changes the way the world works, by altering the natural order of his kingdom. An old man describes how the world is upside-down: "Threescore and ten I can remember well, within the volume of which time I have seen hours dreadful and things strange: but this sore night hath trifled former knowings." (2, 4, 1-4) The public image of Macbeth changes from noble to irrational because of his actions and this can be seen through the opinions of the royal family, Banquo, and the Macduffs.

In the beginning, Macbeth is viewed by the royal family, especially King Duncan and Malcolm, as a brave and noble army general but this perspective changes throughout the play. After Macbeth slays Macdonwald, a traitor to Scotland, he is praised by Duncan and awarded the title of the thane of Cawdor. Duncan expresses his thanks towards Macbeth when he says, "O worthiest cousin! The sin of my ingratitude even now was heavy on me: thou art so far before, that swiftest wing of recompense is slow to overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserv'd, the proportion both of thanks and payment, might have been mine! only I have left to say, more is thy due than more than all can pay." (1, 4, 14-21)

When Macbeth murders Duncan and replaces him as king, his sons Malcolm and Donalbain become suspicious of him. They decided to go their separate ways to be safer from the murderer. Donalbain talks to Malcolm and says, "To Ireland, I; our separate fortune shall keep us both the safer:" (2, 3, 139-140) Malcolm later finds out that Macbeth is the killer of all these people, such as Duncan and Banquo, and he feels that this tyrant is corrupt. Along with an army of lords and other people that dislike Macbeth, Malcolm sets out to stop his rule as king of Scotland. When Macduff is given the news about his...
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