top-rated free essay

Macbeth Character Changes

By jessiemessie17 Sep 09, 2014 1228 Words
How do the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth change in the first three acts of the play Macbeth?

In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, our main characters, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have an interesting but complicated relationship. In my examination of this relationship, I will share my thoughts on the development and change. In more depth, I will look at their changes in behaviour before and after the death of King Duncan. My thoughts will be restricted from the beginning of the play to the end of act three. This is because I feel that is where their characters change most. I will also look at how their friendships with other characters are affected. My essay will be set out in six paragraphs with each act having two paragraphs each. In those two paragraphs, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth will have one each. To start with, I will look at how Macbeth changes in act one. In the beginning, Macbeth seems baffled, stunned and intrigued as to how the witches’ prophecy can come true. He seems to be in a state of disbelief. At this point, Macbeth is portrayed as quite weak and feeble minded. However, the evil in him is unleashed after the witches’ prophecy starts to become true. Now he has become Thane of Cawdor, the thought of becoming King is plaguing his mind. Macbeth becomes aware that a dark deed may have to be performed in order for him to claim the crown. When Macbeth hosts Duncan at his castle, he ponders over the thought of killing him. Macbeth is after all, trusted by Duncan and fears that terrible consequences will come on Duncan’s death. He weighs out his reasons showing his unwillingness towards killing Duncan until his wife persuades him and plants the seeds for them to grow. As for friendships with other characters, Banquo may be pondering on how Macbeth will become king. He will have the most insight when Macbeth finally does kill Duncan because he has some kind of evidence against Macbeth. This could potentially jeopardise their friendship. Lady Macbeth had shown strength and control since the beginning of the play. After receiving the letter from Macbeth, she has started to create a plan to get the crown for Macbeth. She says she will do anything for him to receive the crown. I think this is because she does not have much faith in her husband. She also says “unsex me”. This is because she wants to gather all her strength and more so that she will do the deed if Macbeth is not willing too. Lady Macbeth then plants seeds into Macbeth’s brain when he starts reconsidering about killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth calls him a coward and says that there plan is so good, it could not possibly fail. She is very controlling and she seems to run Macbeth’s life as well as her own! As far as friendships go, Lady Macbeth does not really converse with anyone apart from her husband, exchanging hospitalities when necessary and maybe a few servants. In Act 2, Macbeth carries out the deadly deed. As he proceeds towards Duncan’s chamber, he sees a dagger which seems to be a figure of his imagination. To me, this symbolizes that although he has doubts, Macbeth knows deep down the deed must be done. After Macbeth has murdered Duncan, he hears a voice cry, “Sleep no ore, Macbeth does murder sleep”. I feel that this shows Macbeth’s weaker side coming out to play again. It shows how he did not really want to get the crown in this way. When Macbeth forgets to leave the prepared daggers for the Chamberlains, it shows how absent minded he really was. Macbeth is then seen as cowardly when he refuses to put the blooded daggers in their places. Then when he says he killed the chamberlains because he was so angry, I think it raises a few suspicions amongst the other characters. Lennox, Macduff and Banquo especially might see this as suspicious now. The King has been killed under Macbeth’s roof just after the prophecy is starting to come true. Macbeth seems to be losing lots of trust. As for Lady Macbeth, she was the main driving force in the killing of Duncan. She seems infuriated when Macbeth forgets to leave the daggers by the chamberlains to frame them. I think this is because she has worked so hard to build up her own beliefs in Macbeth’s head yet they are then ruined as his own thoughts creep back into his mind. It is almost like Lady Macbeth has Macbeth under a permanent spell. In Act three, Macbeth has gathered all his thoughts together and has realised that Banquo is a threat. Banquo has probably almost finished fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. Now Banquo will hold an advantage over him. That is why Macbeth hires three murders to do this second dark deed for him. Macbeth fills the heads of the murders with hatred towards Banquo so that he can ensure that they will not chicken out and do the deed. Later on, Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth of how he thinks killing Duncan was just the first hurdle. They will have to eliminate many others before they can ensure Macbeth’s crown in safe. Macbeth says he is discontent and that his mind is “full of scorpions”. Whilst feasting, the ghost of Banquo appears but only Macbeth can see him. This again is like the dagger, showing the many doubts he has. As for any friendships, any friends have fled in fear and his friend of many years, Banquo, is dead. To my surprise, Lady Macbeth does not really have that much involvement in the killing of Banquo. She knows about it but this time it seems to be Macbeth who is in the driving seat in this case. Lady Macbeth has seemed to step back a little. Maybe she is thinking that she needs to let him think a bit for himself and only step in if necessary. Lady Macbeth is also discontent. I think this is her feminine side coming back to her. Later on, Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth’s manhood which is seen as giving him a gentle push in the right direction without being to forceful. To summarise, I truly think that in the end, Macbeth has changed the most between him and Lady Macbeth. He started off quite weak in his mental state but then he started to gain strength after Lady Macbeth had planted seeds. I just took some time for them to grow. By the end of Act three, I feel that Macbeth has now truly become his own person and for the better as he has eliminated Banquo from his list of threats. Banquo was probably one of his biggest threats if not the biggest. Lady Macbeth had always seemed to be the controlling and figurehead of the relationship but now that Macbeth has found his own way. She just needed to step back a little for Macbeth to form as his own person. I do think however, that Lady Macbeth was the key part in the uprising of Macbeth’s character. Overall, they seemed to have switched characters although Lady Macbeth cannot was everything entirely out of her as an already fully formed person.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Lady Macbeth

    ...he Macbeths’ marriage, like the couple themselves, is atypical, particularly by the standards of its time. Yet despite their odd power dynamic, the two of them seem surprisingly attached to one another, particularly compared to other married couples in Shakespeare’s plays, in which romantic felicity appears primarily during courtship and mar...

    Read More
  • Lady Macbeth

    ...THE SLEEP WALKING SCENE MACBETH The tragedy of Macbeth is known for shakespeare’s intuitive insight into the working of the human mind. Two grand figures are explored in this timeless tragedy, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare has drawn Lady Macbeth as a loyal though misguided and misguiding wife who for the fulfillment of her husband...

    Read More
  • Macbeth-Themes-Motifs-Amp-Symbols

    ...of Unchecked Ambition The main theme of Macbeth²the destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints²finds its most powerful expression in the play¶s two main characters. Macbeth is a courageous Scottish general who is not naturally inclined to commit evil deeds, yet he deeply desires power and advancement. He kills Dunca...

    Read More
  • Ambition in Macbeth

    ...Ambition: the Positives and Negatives William Shakespeare’s Macbeth begins with three witches echoing “fair is foul and foul is fair,” (I,i,12) which is exactly how we first see the play’s main character, Macbeth. Macbeth is told by the witches that he will one day become king. The fair and valiant warrior, Macbeth, puts himself abov...

    Read More
  • The Downward Spiral of Macbeth: Defeat, Death, and Damnation

    ...In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the choices of the character Macbeth can be considered voluntary or involuntary. Although the witches or weird sisters seemingly manipulate Macbeth from the very beginning of the play with prophetic fortunes of Macbeth to become the Thane of Cawdor and king, Macbeth’s reign of evil is produced by his voluntary belie...

    Read More
  • Emotion of Fear - In William Shakespeare's Macbeth can motivate an individual to do the unimaginable. In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, fear is the driving force for murder, escape, and madness. There are three types of fear that are exhibited in this tragic Shakespearean play. They are the fears based on morals, the fears based on physical harm, and the fears based on selfishness. The purpos...

    Read More
  • macbeth imagery

    ... Darkness imagery in Macbeth This essay will prove that in the play Macbeth, the author of the play William Shakespeare uses darkness imagery for three dramatic purposes. Those three purposes are, to create atmosphere, to trigger the emotions of the audience and to contribute to the major theme of the play. The darkness ima...

    Read More
  • Macbeth: a Timeless Tale

    ...“contemporary " means being focused on reality TV, greed, casual sex, money, sports, The Family Guy, professional wrestling, technology or State of Origin ... then the answer is probably "Nothing." Life in reality though, is a play that forces individuals to choose between right and wrong and, like Macbeth, decisions we make can have a las...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.