Hook: Shakespeare undoubtedly uses many literary devices and elements throughout Macbeth. One such element is the characterization of Macbeth. Thesis: Shakespeare shows how Macbeth is an emotionally and mentally weak character, leading to his downfall. I. Macbeth is easily swayed
A. Macbeth is easily influenced by Lady Macbeth to murder his first victim. 1. Lady Macbeth taunts Macbeth about his personality traits. Anna Brownell Jameson draws attention to how she sarcastically calls Macbeth a coward—a word a man can’t bear to hear from another man, less from woman, and least of all from the woman he loves (Jameson 2). 2. James Schiffer claims that the Macbeths’ definition of womanly is to be daunted and fearful, powerless and unfulfilled, while to be manly is to be strong and valorous and quick to act, regardless of the action (Schiffer 2). Lady Macbeth uses this against her husband, suggesting that he is more of a woman than a man. 3. William Maginn mentions that Lady Macbeth has persuaded herself that Macbeth is too full of the milk of human kindness to murder the king, and therefore it is her duty to push him into doing so. II. Macbeth misinterprets what the three witches tell him
A. Macbeth takes everything that the witches say literally 1. James Schiffer identifies that Macbeth believes his initial greeting with the Weird Sisters is a “supernatural soliciting” to murder, even though he is aware that fate may crown him king without his action (Schiffer 3). 2. Macbeth has a false sense of security when the witches show him the three apparitions. III. Macbeth is paranoid
A. Macbeth fears getting caught murdering people
1. Irena Kaluza points out that the knocking on the doors of Macbeth’s castle fears Macbeth and drives him to realize the irrevocability of his murder (Kaluza 3). 2. Macbeth turns to murder whenever he feels that someone is suspicious of him, like his friend Banquo.
Cited: Maginn, William. "Lady Macbeth." The Shakespeare Papers of the Late William Maginn, LL.D. Ed. Shelton Mackenzie. Redfield, 1856. 171-208. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Mark W. Scott. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1986. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
Schiffer, James. "Macbeth and the Bearded Women." In Another Country: Feminist Perspectives on Renaissance Drama. Ed. Dorothea Kehler and Susan Baker. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1991. 205-217. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Michelle Lee. Vol. 100. Detroit: Gale, 2006. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
Jameson, Anna Brownell. "Lady Macbeth." Shakespear 's Heroines: Characteristics of Women. Moral, Poetical, & Historical, George Newnes, Limited, 1897. 309-331. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris and Mark W. Scott. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale Research, 1986. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
Kaluza, Irena. "Introduction." The Language of Deception in Macbeth: A Study in Equivocation and Hidden Meaning. Kroków: Nakladem Uniwersytetu Jagiellonkiego, 1990. 9-16. Rpt. in Shakespearean Criticism. Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. Vol. 80. Detroit: Gale, 2004. Literature Resource Center. Web. 1 Dec. 2010.
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