Macbeth is not a villain...

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MACBETH ESSAY The proposition that "Macbeth is a villain in whom there is little to admire" is an inadequate judgement of Macbeth's character. Macbeth is not consciously and naturally malevolent, and there are many aspects of his character and his downfall which serve to support this. Macbeth was not only a victim of his own actions, but also of the human condition and the extremely powerful forces of both his wife and fate. Throughout the play the audience undoubtedly experiences feelings of horror at Macbeth, but we are also driven, through an understanding of his character, to admiration and sympathy. This would not be the case if Macbeth was a totally vile and reprehensible villain, and thus the tragedy of Shakespeare's Macbeth is clear.

Macbeth was certainly no villain to begin with. He is introduced to us as a man of great honour, nobility and strength of morals. He is held in high regard by King Duncan, who addresses him as "valiant cousin, worthy gentleman"- so highly, in fact, that Macbeth is granted a promotion over Banquo (who seems to be of an extremely worthy and loyal character).

But there is a fatal difference between Macbeth and Banquo- Macbeth's ambition and lust for power. He is a man with an unsurpassable desire to advance himself. He himself identifies this quality while he contemplates an action that he is wholly repulsed by; "I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting Ambition which o'erleaps itself, And falls on th' other." This "Vaulting Ambition" is what makes Macbeth vulnerable and leads him to commit possibly the most vile deed he can imagine, setting him on a path of destruction. There is a temptation to use the fact that he could comprehend the vileness of his deed...