Both Macbeth and Romeo
2) Initial interpretation
In Shakespeare's play Macbeth the audience first hears about the main character but not does not meet them. This makes the audience create a picture of the protagonists. These grab the audience's attention and ensure they become involved. The audience paints the picture from a prologue of evil: the witches plan to meet with Macbeth. The evil witches talk about Macbeth "we'll meet Macbeth there." The presence of the witches in the play reminds us that people in Shakespeare's time believed strongly in the supernatural: angels, demons, fairies, curses. Witches were believed to be women who had sold their souls to the devil in return for magical powers that they used to harm others. The witch's plan was to meet with Macbeth: we know something suspicious or evil will happen involving Macbeth. The audiences might believe that Macbeth was an immoral character because he could be plotting with the witches.
However, our impression changes in Act 1 Scene 2 Macbeth is mentioned again but this time by the King who admires Macbeth for his courage. "O valiant cousin, worthy gentlemen." This makes the audience change their ideas about Macbth because the King - who was believed in this time to have been chosen by God - was praised Macbeth so highly and this, would suggest that Macbeth was a very respectable person.
Another interaction of this could be that the King is praising Macbeth for killing. An eyewitness of the battle tells the King 'For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name' The eyewitness describes 'like valour's minion carved out his passage' This would make people in the audience think that Macbeth was macabre and gruesome. Yet being loyal to his country.
3) Temptation - Comparing Macbeth and Romeo's flaws
4) Consequences - comparing Macbeth and Romeo's reaction after the murders
Both protagonists suffer the consequences of their actions. Romeo had to escape to Mantua straight away for fear of the Prince's punishment whereas Macbeth is full of guilt and is 'afraid to think' what he has done. Having committed regicide, Macbeth knows that he 'shall sleep no more' as he has disregarded the Divine Right of Kings. Therefore he does not deserve to experience 'innocent sleep' again. The adjective 'innocent' connotes a baby because they cannot be guilty. The audience would have had mixed feelings at this point as they believed in the power of the supernatural and would have recognised the important role played by the witches in influencing his actions. However some would probably also have felt sympathy for him as they would have understood the 'vaulting ambition' that motivated him. They would also have recognised the strong influence of Lady Macbeth who drove him on to commit the murder.
When Macbeth kills Duncan, he gets very anxious. He imagines that he hears the guards talking in their sleep. There's one did laugh in's sleep, and one cried, "Murder!" That they did wake each other: I stood and heard them: But they did say their prayers and address'd them Again to sleep. He gets even more upset when he thinks he hears them say "amen" and he joins in but he cannot because the words got caught in his throat. He wonders why he cannot say it back. It makes him feel that what he has done must have been sinful.
Whereas Macbeth thinks deeply about the consequences of murdering Duncan analyzing and evaluating them, Romeo does the opposite and acts on impulse. He is a character who has strong emotions and he makes his decisions based on how he feels. When he sees Tybalt 'Alive in triumph' he knows that he will have to kill him to avenge his best friend Mercutio. He is prepared to die trying. 'either thou or I or both, Must go with him.' The modal verb 'must' shows his determination.
5) Suffering - Comparing how Macbeth and Romeo suffer after the murders
Following the murders both Macbeth and Romeo suffer because of their actions. Macbeth knows all happiness has gone out of his life. He describes his life in a metaphor 'I have liv'd long enough: my way of life Is fall'n into the sear, the yellow leaf;' The image is of a leaf dropping, dray and yellow, from a tree in autumn. Like this leaf, Macbeth's life has come to its autumn and will soon fall. It is significant that he has realized that his actions have been for nothing because
Macbeth has been breaking rules throughout the entire play killing Kings, ordering the murders of children, talking to witches, and putting his own ambition before the good of the kingdom. All these crimes would suggest that he has lost all morality. However he starts to look at what he has achieved 'curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,' This punishment would make the audience feel sad because this is what he now has left because of his hubris. In contrast Macbeth talks about what he had and we see that he wants to be the noble kinsman he was before with 'honour, love, obedience, troops of friends.' This sense of family would make the audience feel for Macbeth because he had a great life but he has lost it because of his greed.
Romeo suffers because of his impulsive actions. He saw Juliet 'dead' then pledges his love to Juliet, takes the poison, and dies. This rash decision makes the audience feel annoyed because they knew that Juliet was alive. Shakespeare creates the dramatic irony to make the play tense for the audience and to make them wish Romeo thought about his actions first. This shows clearly how Romeo died because of his flaws.
By Ben Rose