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Macbeth Essay

Oct 08, 1999 823 Words
Macbeth

Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare in the 1600th Century, when England was under the rule of King James. Shakespeare was born and lived in Stafford upon Avon. Macbeth was one of his famous works, and it is about a man, Macbeth who kills the king, so he can rule England. The plot is complicated and the play develops a character profile of Macbeth showing how his mind and morals change and develop. The play can be analysed from three different perspectives: Prose, Theatre, and Poetry and I will, in all three. I will however only analyse two sections. Act One Scene Seven, and Act Five Scene Five Over View

Alone after dinner, Macbeth has the first opportunity to think about the murder of his king. At first this was only a dream, but now it is a real moral problem for him. He knows that the crime must be punished; divine justice in a "life to come" does not worry him so mush as judgement in this earthly life. Then he considers the duties he owes to Duncan as his kinsman, of a subject to his king, and a host to his guest. Finally he thinks of the character of Duncan, a king of almost divine excellence. Macbeth has a vision of the heavenly powers horrified by this murder; he sees Pity personified as a "naked new born babe" which is nevertheless "striding the blast" while "heaven's cherubin" are mounted on the winds. The speech builds to a mighty climax then suddenly the power is lost, when Macbeth turns to his own wretched motive for committing such a crime. He can find nothing except Vaulting Ambition. His mind is made up, and tells his wife "We will proceed no further in this business". He is not prepared for her rage and abuse. She calls him a coward, insults his virility and declares that she would rather have murdered her child while it was feeding at her breast rather than break such a promise as Macbeth has done. Defeated Macbeth agrees to murder his king. Act One Scene Seven

This is the first main soliloquy. It is also the longest. At a glance one notices that most of the ideas are repeated, accented, reinstated. This is because Shakespeare has realised that in theatre the audience will generally only pick up about half of what is said. This section is where Macbeth is pondering over whether or not to kill King Duncan. In his first line Shakespeare uses alliteration, so that immediately the audience is aware of the situation. "If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well.

It were done quickly;…."
The repetition of "done" reinforces a feeling doing. The line also shows that Shakespeare liked to play on his words. Macbeth is thinking of murdering his king, and he plays with the different meanings of the word "done." He is saying that if the business of the murder was ended ("done") as soon as it was performed ("done"), then it would be a good thing that it should be carried out ("done") as soon as possible. In the rest of the play Shakespeare shows us that the murder of King Duncan was not complete when he died but that Macbeth was forced to kill more people in order to hide his first crime. At the same time he had to recognise his guilt and bear the punishment. In this speech we also learn that Macbeth had the ethics and morals to know that killing the king was wrong, and that there were plenty of reasons why he shouldn't. This paragraph helps a lot to build a character profile in this way. The text is split into five main parts. The five points develop his thoughts, leading to his decision to kill the king. At first he is quite apprehensive. Shakespeare creates some interesting imagery in his language. A particular favourite of mine is that of "Vaulting Ambition" This complicated image shows of how if you climb too high up then the fall becomes greater. This is a good metaphor in him killing the rightful king.

Over View
Macbeth does not respond to the excitement: he has lost the capacity for feeling either fear or, as we see when he hears of his wife's death, grief. He speaks the most disillusioned words that Shakespeare ever wrote when he contemplates life's "petty pace from day to day" He still hopes that the witches' promises will protect him, but when he hears that "The wood began to move" his confidence is shaken and he begins To doubt the equivocation of the fiend That Lies like the truth. At this point we should remember the equivocator that the porter joked about long ago, and appreciate the way that this whole play insists on the difference between being and seeming or between saying one thing and meaning another.

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