Macbeth-a true hero?

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The word hero is usually associated with superheroes that are commonplace on today's television. This is the stereotypical view of a man with special powers and a bright uniform. The dictionary defines a hero as a man who displays courage and noble qualities. It is also defined as a main male character in a story, play or film. The fictional heroes that spawned from comic books all display similar qualities of honesty, bravery, immortality and loyalty. Their loyalty lies in their beliefs and strives for peace and a crime-free society. An example of a fictional hero is Superman. He displays all the qualities mentioned above, with the added bonus of superhuman strength. A real hero, in more down-to-earth terms could be someone like Nelson Mandela, who stood up for his rights, and those of his country, and fought a battle that many of people thought he could never win.

Films, old and new, depict heroes in the same light and with the same qualities as those mentioned.

Heroes today are viewed in a film's but not recognised as instantly as they may have been 10 or 20 years ago. They have less prominent characteristics as than the ones shown in films involving superheroes. William Wallace is a hero that is glorified in the film Braveheart. In this film he displays great courage and bravery in war and shows all the qualities of a true hero. This film is based on a true tale of a Scottish war hero. Arnold Schwarzenegger is depicted as a hero in many of his films. He always plays the lead role as an almost invincible man that saves lives. He is a fictional hero.

Heroes in literature are not the same as the ones seen in films. Heroes in books are not always ones with superhuman powers and unbelievable capabilities. They can also be normal people admired and respected for their achievements. They are usually incredibly intelligent and honest. One example of this is Sherlock Holmes. He is a fictional character who is a crime solving genius, and is admired for his powers of deduction.

Macbeth is the eponymous hero of William Shakespeare's play. He is the main character of the play. He would be expected to be a noble, honest and trustworthy man, as the play's hero. Shakespeare' names the player after Macbeth to indicate he is the hero.

The opening scene shows three witches in a wide-open space chanting a spell. Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy to set the scene for witches: "An open space, thunder and lightning." This scene conjures up a sense of mystery, evil and fear. The rhyme and rhythm of their actions and sayings make it sound as if they are casting a spell. They all speak in unison at the end as if it were rehearsed: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air." They mention Macbeth in one of their chants. This, during the period of time in which the play took place, would have been considered scandalous and made the audience wonder why the hero of the play was associated with the witches. Witches were seen as evil characters in those times, and were believed in by many people.

In the second scene this view of Macbeth is contradicted. He is linked with evil in the first and admired for his heroic qualities in the second. This makes the audience question their first impressions of Macbeth. Some of the king's men refer to him as "brave", "valiant" and " worthy", all qualities of a hero. Shakespeare uses these adjectives to show that the heroic qualities that Macbeth displays, in contrast to the first scene where he may be linked with evil. The Captain goes on to describe how Macbeth ruthlessly killed the enemy, the merciless McDonwald: " Till he unseemed him out from the nave to the chops, and fixed his head upon our battlements." These actions show he is a violent man who is prepared to kill for his country. The image of Macbeth being a hero is furthered when his captain relates him to the Roman god of war, Mars. He does this through the title: "Bellona's Bridegroom." There is a vast difference between the two accounts, one from a set of three witches, the lowest class in society at that time and the King and captain, the two highest ranks of authority. The audience see this difference and realise that there may be two sides to Macbeth.

In scene three we first meet Macbeth on a heath, with his friend Banquo. The scene opens with a dark, thundery atmosphere, once again using pathetic fallacy to set the stereotypical scene of evil or fear. Here the pair meet with the three-hagid witches that were seen in scene one. Macbeth speaks first saying: "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." This line is the same as the one that is said at the end of the first scene. This raises questions about the relationship between Macbeth and the witches suggesting that there may be some sort of an alliance. Banquo approaches the three witches questioning and almost insulting them about their appearance: "What are these, so withered, and so wild in their attire, that look not like the inhabitants of earth." Here Banquo exclaims that he has never seen such things before and is amazed that they live on this earth. They speak to Macbeth; giving him and Banquo various predictions about their future. They greet Macbeth with three titles, "Thane Of Glamis", which he already holds, "Thane Of Cawdor" and "King Hereafter". The last of the three predictions shocks him most as the King is alive and healthy. He is still surprised by the first, as he doesn't expect the witches to know who he is, let alone know his current title. The second prediction also surprises him somewhat as he knows that someone else already holds that title. Later in the scene he is approached by Ross and Angus, two of the King's men (Thanes), who inform Macbeth that he is now the Thane Of Cawdor as the current thane betrayed the King and has lost the title. Macbeth is shocked, as he believed that he was a trustworthy man that could be relied upon.

At the start of the next scene the witches display their evil by saying: "Where hast thou been sister? Killing swine." This reinforces the fact that the witches are evil and have bad intentions. This makes the audience question further the possibility of an alliance between the witches and Macbeth, and the danger that he may be in.

Macbeth is portrayed as a hero at the start of the play but there are signs that he is not as noble and trustworthy as first seems. This is displayed in the lines where he speaks to people "Aside". This shows he is trying to keep some information a secret from certain people. Towards the end of the scene Macbeth shows he is less of a hero as he is made out to be. He is beginning to have corrupt thoughts about his position.

In scene five Lady Macbeth receives a letter from Macbeth. In it he describes his encounter with the three witches that he meets in scene one. He goes on to describe his meeting with these imperfect speakers and what they said. He tells here of the predictions that he was given. He says that it would be good to become King but only if it was obtained rightfully or by fair means. Macbeth shows he truly believes in what he has been told; this is evident at the start of the letter where he says: "I have learned by the perfect report." This shows that Macbeth believes what he has been told as a "perfect report" mean reliable information. He also writes that he now owns the title of Cawdor which means one of the predictions has come true, so why shouldn't the second? This furthers his belief/trust in the witches.

After reading the letter, Lady Macbeth clearly has the impression that Macbeth is telling the truth. She feels that he is too honest and noble to become King in the very near future. She displays this frustration when she says: "What thou wouldst highly, that wouldst thou holily." This means he wants greatness but only by fair means, which shows how Lady Macbeth would like to act on his current situation (with evil ways). Her view of Macbeth is of a hero but she would prefer it if he was less so and was able to be less of a noble, honest man. She only wants him to be like this so that she may gain some of the greatness that has been predicted.

When Macbeth arrives home Lady Macbeth greets him as if he is already the King: "Great Glamis, worthy Cawdor, greater than both, by the all-hail hereafter." She says this to him so that he feels great and regal. She also greets him this way to make it seem certain that he will receive this title. She is trying to make him want to be King, with a greater urgency.