Character of Macbeth
Macbeth is introduced to the play as a warrior hero, whose fame on the battlefield wins him great honour from the king, “noble Macbeth”. Essentially though, he is a human being whose private ambitions are made clear to the audience through his soliloquies. These often conflict with the opinion others have of him, which he describes as "golden". Despite his fearless character in battle, Macbeth is concerned by the prophecies of the Witches, and his thoughts remain confused, before, during, and after his murder of King Duncan. When Duncan announces that he intends to pass the kingdom onto his son Malcolm, Macbeth appears frustrated. When he is about to commit the murder, he undergoes terrible pangs of conscience.
The encounter with the witches is a pivotal event in the play. Through the dialogue between Macbeth and Banquo, we can further identify their characteristics, come to understand that Banquo acts as a foil of Macbeth and that the two characters are quite distinct in personality. Through Macbeth’s dialogue with the witches right before they vanish, his words indicate to the reader that he is sceptic of their presence and seeks to be comforted by having Banquo confirm he saw them too, to eliminate doubt. This also shows that Macbeth has ambitions and a lust for power, as he so urgently seeks an explanation and reassurance.
However, in Scene 3, the reader comes across the first soliloquy by Macbeth. This plays a key role in our understanding of Macbeth as a character and how he sees himself and the situation in which he is ‘trapped’. The importance of soliloquies lies in the fact that they often reveal personal thoughts or inner voices. As this is not known by the other characters, it gives us a deeper understanding of the feelings, emotions of the character and can explain or even foreshadow certain events. Macbeth often reflects on what he is feeling and this comes down to revealing a large part of his