Macbeth’s Character Analysis - Benchmark
Thesis statement: Macbeth’s character has drastically changed in the play from a courageous, kind-hearted soldier; to a cold blooded killer.
In Act 1 scene 2, Macbeth is on the battlefield killing enemies, and his superiors are proud of him. He is ruthlessly killing soldiers for the honor of his country. Captain tells King Duncan and Malcolm about how Macbeth is doing on the battlefield. He states,” For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name. (Act 1, scene 2, line 16) It shows that Macbeth is a courageous soldier. Without any question he is on the frontline for his people. Everyone is proud of him and how he is doing.
When Act 1 scene 3 is taking place, Macbeth has just been told of a prophecy where eventually he will become the king. Banquo and him were both told a prophecy and some of Macbeth’s has already come true. While he is aside he says that if he is meant to be king then everything will fall in place. In lines 145-146 he says,” If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me.” This shows that Macbeth is aware that he might become king, but is in no rush to make it come true. He has just been crowned Thane of Cawdor so now he is wondering about what will be. Macbeth’s character is showing that he is not going to dwell on the prophecy that much. This also shows that Macbeth is kind-hearted.
In Act 1 scene 7 Lady Macbeth has decided that King Duncan needs to be killed so Macbeth can become king, but Macbeth is saying that he’s not sure because Duncan is one of his closest friends and if they do he wants to get it over with. He is alone in a room speaking and he says, “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door.”(Lines 13-16) Macbeth is second guessing about killing Duncan because he is suppose to be there to protect him, and that Macbeth really doesn’t want to murder him for the fact that he’s his friend. Macbeth’s conscience is making him think it over. Macbeth is showing that he has a heart. This soon changes though.
The ending of Act 2 scene, Macbeth has just killed Duncan. He and is paranoid and is hearing/seeing things because of what he has done. Duncan was suppose to be one of his best friends and he murdered him. And he is upset, while Lady Macbeth is telling him to stop being so nervous and scared. She states,“ My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white.”(Lines 67-68). This shows that Macbeth’s character has feelings and his heart is troubled because of what he has done. Because Duncan was his friend and he killed him, now he is feeling the guilt. Lady Macbeth is trying to get him to calm down; this shows that Macbeth’s character is still not in a role where he is in.
In the beginning of Act 3 scene 1, Macbeth is now saying that Banquo is standing in his way of getting the position of king. And now he is ready to have him murdered to get him out of the way. Macbeth is starting to become greedy when it comes to him wanting power he says, “ Whose being I do fear; and under him, my genius is rebuked, as it is said, Mark Antony’s was by Caesar. He chid the sisters, when first they put the name of king upon me.” (Lines 55-58) Macbeth is now becoming power greedy. Banquo is supposed to be a very close friend to him, and now he is plotting to murder him. This begins to show what is to soon become of the new Macbeth.
In Act 3 scene 2, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are talking about killing Banquo and Fleance. She feels as though it is unnecessary to murder them. She feels as though it serves no purpose, but he is insisting that they be murdered, and he assures her he will take care of it. He tells her, “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day, And with thy bloody, and invisible hand.” (Lines 46-49) This shows that Macbeth’s character has changed, before now he felt unsure when killing Duncan. Now it seems as though him and Lady Macbeth have emotionally traded places. He is ready to kill Banquo with no question, while she is wondering whether to do it. This is showing how he has changed from the beginning of the book.
When Act 4 scene 1 emerges, Macbeth has heard that Macduff has fled to England. And even though there is no real reason to kill anybody besides Macduff, he has decided that anybody who is in his castle will be killed. Macbeth is furious and wants everybody dead. He tells Lennox, “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, Seize upon Fife, give to Th’ edge o’ th’ sword, His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line.” (Lines 172-175) This shows that Macbeth has turned into a heartless murderer who is just killing people now for the sake of it. It is becoming more evident that now he is just ruthless.
In Act 4 scene 3, Macduff and Malcolm are talking to each other about Macbeth. They are about to form an alliance against him, and Macduff is telling Malcolm that they don’t get any worst than Macbeth. They are ready to fight back against him and get Scotland back. Macduff Tells Malcolm,“ Not in the legions, of horrid hell can come a devil more damned, in evil to top Macbeth.” (Lines 56-58) This shows that everyone is aware of who Macbeth has become. That he is not the same. The character has now turned into an evil, cold hearted, greedy murderer. Malcolm and Macduff once thought of him as a noble man, now they are ready to kill him.
In Act 5 scene 2, the alliance against Macbeth is formed. Everyone is aware of the crimes he has committed. There is no turning back now, the once courageous soldier, is now a power stealing greedy King, and they are ready to fight back. Angus tells them, “His secret murders sticking on his hands. Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith breach. Those he commands, move only in command, nothing in love. Now does he feel his title hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe? Upon a dwarfish thief.” (Lines 17-22) Macbeth’s character and title is about to downfall. The fact that he is now wrongly king is coming back to him. His title is about to get taken from him. Because he was so impatient and was power hungry he made a lot of mistakes. Now he is about to pay for them.
At the end of this book in Act 5 scene 8, Macduff and Macbeth are fighting; Macduff informs Macbeth that because he was born by from his mothers womb untimely ripped (C-section) that he is able to kill him. Basically he is telling him to surrender because there is nothing left to loose. It is all over for Macbeth at this point. So Macduff tells him, “ Then yield thee coward, And live to be the show and gaze o’ th’ time. We’ll have thee, as our rarer monster are, painted upon a pole, and under wit.”(Lines 23-26) Macbeth at the end of the book is a coward. He is in a position where he knows he is about to be killed. His title that was wrongfully given to him is about to be ripped away. It is nothing left that he can do. All hope is gone at this point.
In conclusion, Macbeth in the beginning of this book was a well-respected, decent man. By the time the book is over he is an evil murderer who everyone wants to be dead. He let the fact that he was told he would be king, be the cause of his downfall. These quotes have shown how Macbeth let his greed for power loose everything he had. Nothing positive came from his decisions. Shakespeare’s message to us was that you should always be happy with where you are, and never try to rush anything. This lesson can still be used today, as long as you apply it to your situation.