In Shakespeare's Macbeth, each character has certain qualities that contribute to the dynamic story and theme. Macbeth was a hero to start, but died as a villain, reinforcing the theme, "fair is foul and foul is fair" or simply things are not what they seem. Macbeth's ruthless qualities are responsible for both his reputation as a hero and his ultimate demise as a villain and tyrant.
When Macbeth is first introduced into the play he is portrayed as a heroic, strong warrior, defeating invading forces with the slashing of his sword. But we can see that this perspective is faulted after his meeting with the three witches. It is apparent that his physical courage and strength is joined by intense ambition and an inclination to self-doubt; knowing he will be king brings him happiness, but there is an inner struggle also. These three elements, bravery, ambition, and self-doubt, battle for control of Macbeth throughout the play.
It can be said that Shakespeare uses Macbeth as an example of the horrible effects that ambition and guilt can have on a person who lacks strength of character.
Before Macbeth kills Duncan, he is beset with worry and almost decides not to go through with the murder. After the murder he flutters from extreme to extreme, fits of fevered action, when he plans a series of murders to secure his throne, to moments of terrible guilt, when Banquo's ghost appears, to absolute pessimism, his "Tomorrow and tomorrow..." soliloquy. As things continue to fall apart for him at the end of the play, he seems almost relieved, with Birnam wood marching on Dunsinane, he can finally return to life as a warrior. He never contemplates suicide, "Why should I play the Roman fool and die / on mine own sword?" Instead he...