Characters- be they villains, vagrants, kings, or commoners – are the essence of Shakespeare’s plays.
The essence of anything lies in the set of attributes that render it the characteristics of its substance, purpose and function. In Shakespeare’s play, “Macbeth”, the essence of the play are the characters. Shakespeare uses a variety of different characters and all of them carry a different idea about our society. This includes kings, who carry the idea of chivalry, majesty and kindness; villains who carry the idea of manipulation and deception; and vagrants who carry the idea of witchcraft. Along with this some of the characters also go through drastic changes in personality and actions. This shows that characters are the essence because they give flavour to the play and without them no events would take place. Hence characters prove to be pivotal for Shakespeare to explore the consequences of various events on society.
Jonathan Bates, in his book “ the genius of Shakespeare” states that one of the reasons Shakespeare is a genius is that “ we can never quite make up our minds about the characters “. This is especially true for the character of Macbeth as his character progressively deteriorates as the plot builds up, where his good qualities slowly convert into bad and evil ones. We first hear about Macbeth in the wounded captain’s account with the words “all’s too weak for brave Macbeth’. This gives an initial impression of a brave, valiant and capable warrior. This however, becomes complicated once we see Macbeth interact with the three witches and we realise that his physical courage is coupled with his consuming ambition and self-doubt. The witches prophesy that Macbeth will become King brings him face inner turmoil through the “horrid image” of the murder of king Duncan and at this point he is not so cold and ambitious that he will defy loyalty. Subsequently he writes a loving letter to his wife where he calls her his “dearest partner of...
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