Essay by missbessHigh School, 10th grade October 2007

download word file, 4 pages 3.8

"The play is about identity, not good and evil. Macbeth is a character developed far more than any other, and his destruction is truly tragic." Can you describe the play in these terms? One of the main questions that comes up when thinking about Macbeth is do the characters occupy the play to tell a historical story, or does the drama exist as a prop to explore the physiological nuances of the character Macbeth. It could be argued that the character of Macbeth, his complex physiological states, his weakness of character, the part that people around him and his wife play in the development of character, and destiny are truly the central themes of the play.

At the beginning of the play Macbeth is praised by many people and looked up to as a war hero. “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name” 1:2:16. He is well respected by the king and even chosen by him to be the new Thane of Cawdor. Even Macbeth knows that he is at a good point in his life “I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people” 1:7:33. So we form an opinion that he is a great man.

We are able to make a connection with Macbeth because Shakespeare takes us into his mind. When Macbeth is equivocating about killing King Duncan we can see that he has a working conscience and that he is not a bad guy. Macbeth is the only character in the play that we can be sure has an active conscience. Shakespeare presents all the other characters with faults. Macduff leaves his family to be murdered and in act 4:3 Malcolm lies to Macduff and tells him it was the only lie he ever told. If the play was about good and evil the good characters would not be given these vices and we would not get to see Macbeth’s conscience.

Macbeth’s weakness of character is his main down fall in the play. He is mostly a good man but when it comes to making decisions he gets confused and is guided by the things and people around him. When the witches tell Macbeth his destiny, that he “…will be king here after” 1:3:49. Macbeth gets the idea of killing Duncan. Macbeth is not a clear thinker and knows that he would need the help of his wife to complete this crime. So he sends his wife a letter securing his fate.

When Macbeth and Lady Macbeth find out that Duncan will be staying with them that night they hastily start to plot Duncan’s death. Macbeth’s conscious tells him that it is immoral but his wife won’t let him get out of it because he promised her. “Had I so sworn as you Have done to this.” 1:7:59. Lady Macbeth is helping her husband to be a clear thinker because she knows that he wants this or he would not have sent her the letter. As much as anything I think Macbeth is only equivocating to distract himself from being nervous.

If the opportunity had not presented its self the pair would have had more time to think it over and decide against it but there was no time furthermore they wanted to get it over and done with.

After the murder Macbeth realises that he has made a mistake. He can not have children of his own so the throne will be handed back over to Banquos heirs, just as the witches had alleged. “Thou shalt get kings” 1:3:66. Macbeth looses composure and starts to fear what he has done. “I am afraid to thing what I have done;” 1:3:51.

Macbeth wanted to be king. “let not light see my black and deep desires” but now that he is he is not satisfied “Where our desire is got without content” 3:2:5 and does not feel safe, “To be thus is nothing; But to be safely thus” 3:1:48. Macbeth can not think about using his kingly powers to do good because he is obsessing over the murder. Lady Macbeth goes crazy and leaves Macbeth to make decisions by himself.

Macbeth then decides he has to get rid of all the forces opposing him. “We have scorched the snake, not killed it.” 3:2:13 He is going on a murdering tangent to distract himself from feeling guilty. It is a way that he can stay strong and it is making himself feel good instead of crumbling.

When Macbeth started making decisions to kill people he was finally thinking for himself and taking control. He is becoming a strong decisive king that knows what he wants. By the time he has to fight Macduff Macbeth has grown into an honourable person. When he threw down his shield it was a sign that he was fighting for himself and was not afraid anymore.

Macbeth was not evil he was just a man struggling with his identity and trying to be something he was not. He new nothing other than how to be a soldier and he was good at it. In the end he realised it was the only way he could win his battle. “I’ll fight till from me bones me flesh be hacked. Give me my armour.” 5:3:33. Even though Macbeth had become hated and thought of as a tyrant to others he had won his own battle. This becomes clear when at the end of the play Macbeth feels proud to say “My name’s Macbeth.” 5:8:6.