'Thunder and lightning : Enter three witches.' The first scene of Shakespeare's classic "Macbeth". The story of a cowardly nobleman's rise to power, and his collapse to death. Can a person's ambition, in a dark world, lead them to murder, just to obtain power? I propose to respond to Shakespeare's "MacBeth" in a critical response to this play.
"MacBeth" is the tragic tale of a frail man who must face murder just to earn power, but cannot cope with the side-effects it can bring.
The key character is Macbeth. Macbeth is a noble man, who although may appear strong and brave is actually a very cowardly and frail man who needs lots of guidance, which is expressed very clearly throughout the play.
Lady Macbeth, Macbeth's wife, plays a strong, masculine character in the play. She is more masculine than Macbeth himself. She guides Macbeth to help him climb the ladder to power, but she herself cannot handle the guilt either.
Macbeth goes through several stages in the play, his original state, his tragic flaw, then his pre-death stage. These three stages help us understand how un-controlling Macbeth is of his own life, and how he was in a way bullied into his action.
At the beginning when Macbeth is in his original state he is an anti-hero who has no strength in mind and relies on Lady Macbeth. He may be a soldier on the outside but on the inside he is a coward. The play starts with three witches, of whom foretell the future of Macbeth, saying he would become "Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and king of Scotland" (1.3.47-49) Macbeth is speechless, and he considers the witches words. Lady Macbeth persuades him to kill King Duncan as well "We fail? but screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we'll not fail." (1.7.59-61) This is the first turning point in Macbeth's character, he has now taken a turn into darkness, which he will never get out of.
Due to the death of King Duncan, Macbeth becomes King and his murder has paid him well. He is now in a position of honour and people respect him. He is a lot stronger than he was, but he does not use this strength in good use. Paranoia starts to tease and play with Macbeth's conscience, he and his wife feel constant guilt and fear so they decide to have Banquo killed.
Macbeth and his wife attend a banquet in which a ghost appears. Once the murderer returns and tells Macbeth that the deed of Banquo's murder is complete, Macbeth observes the ghost closer. He then realizes that the ghost is Banquo. The ghost is sitting in Banquo's regular seat. The murderer leaves and Macbeth returns to the feast. Standing next to the table, he announces that the banquet would be perfect if only Banquo were there. Macbeth addresses the ghost, saying "Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee. Thy bones are marrowless; thy blood is cold; Thou hast no speculation in those eyes which thou dost glare with! (3.4.93-97) This is the final turning point of Macbeth's character, this now makes his paranoia increase. He feels, as King, very afraid of losing his power and being caught. To keep his power he must kill anyone who gets in his way. He begins to abuse his power and authority by killing. People begin to turn away from Macbeth's power and he continues to go more paranoid and mad due to his sinful deeds. It gets so extreme that everything said or done towards Macbeth he takes it as a threat or an accusation of murder.
Macbeth is now past paranoia and madness, but into something a lot deeper and indescribable. His relationship with Lady Macbeth has been changing since the day he murdered King Duncan. It is ironic that as he has gained power through these events, Lady Macbeth has lossed power. There relationship has change so much that her death becomes irrelevant to Macbeth "She should have died hereafter." (5.5.18) We now know that if Macbeth has come to a point were even Lady Macbeth means nothing to him, he's prepared for his tragic fate.
The last straw is when Macbeth order's Macduff's wife and children to be killed. This then leads to the Scottish and English armies ganging up on Macbeth to steal him of his kingdom. Enraged with anger, Macbeth decides to fight the thousands of men who have come to overthrow and kill Macbeth. Suddenly, Macduff fights Macbeth and kills him to bring him to his fatal end.
I think Macbeth is one of the best and rarest characters there is in theatre at present. Not many characters change mood, emotions and body language so differently several times within one performance.
"MacBeth" is clearly one of Shakespeare's best pieces of work and has been very enjoyable to work on for the past several weeks.