In this play Macbeth is faced as a masked murderer. I’m writing an essay to see if it’s possible to retain any sympathy for Macbeth at the end of the play.
The opening of the play sees a man called Duncan receiving a battle report from a sergeant, this is when, Macbeth is first heard of in the play although Macbeth does not say any thing he begins to be admirable.
“The thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict; Till that Bellona’s bridegroom, lapp’d in proof, Confronted him with self with self-comparisons”
The quote above is comparing Macbeth to the goddess of war’s husband; this is because he’s an excellent fighter. So from the start of the play we see that, Macbeth is an excellent fighter and an honorable person as he has chosen to fight for his king and country. I think Shakespeare has intentionally done this so we can compare how evil he has become towards the ending of the play.
The next part of the play is when we see Macbeth in the flesh; he is walking across a hill accompanied by Banquo,Macbeth opening line is
“So foul and fair a day I have not seen”
And in act 1 scene 1 we see the three witches saying a chant and in this chant the witches say
“Fair is foul and foul is fair”
My immediate thought was that I’ve heard that before and in the opening of the play we see the witches chanting and in that chant these words are spoken. This makes a link between the 3 witches and Macbeth from the very start of the play; also this makes me suspicious of Macbeth as in fairy tales witches are always evil and if Macbeth is linked to them there’s a possibility of being evil.
As Macbeth and Banquo approach the witches, the witches’ the witches tell Macbeth of the prophecies of him becoming king. After this Banquo questions Macbeth,
“Into the air, and what have seem’d corporal melted, as breath does into the wind. Whither are they vanishe’d?”
“Into the air, and what seem’d corporal melted, as breath does into the wind. Would they have stay’d!”
The above quote is Macbeth staying he wished they would of stayed maybe to tell him more, this again makes me undermine my sympathy for Macbeth as in him there is a hint of curiosity to be king and to have power over people, also if any mans desire is great enough he may do anything to get what he desires.
The next scene I’m going to talk about is when lady Macbeth lady Macbeth first comes into the play, this is in act1 scene 5 when she is reading Macbeth’s letter telling her what the witches said and that him becoming the thane of Glamis, and how it became true also that the witches also said that Macbeth will soon become king.
I was extremely surprised in Lady Macbeth’s reaction to this she was not at all feminine like I thought she would be she says
“Unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of the direst cruelty; make thick blood, stop up the access and passage to remorse, that no compunctions visiting of nature”.
I found this very surprising of a woman of Lady Macbeth feminine qualities. The quote means “make me insensitive by blocking up all the pathways by which remorse can reach my heart, so that no natural feelings of conscience make me hesitate in my wicked plans, or come between my wicked scheme and the carrying-out of this scheme”.
I feel very sorry for Macbeth at this part of the play as he has to live with this woman and from the last quote I can see that she is very domineering and very selfish also I believe she is slightly messed up in the head. Also looking at this quote I can see that plotting to kill the king. And when we see her manipulating Macbeth trying to make him kill the king, she uses Macbeth’s only weakness against him questioning his honour,
“Woudst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’, like the poor cat I’ the adage”
The above quote Lady Macbeth is questioning Macbeth’s honour, and for a man like Macbeth honour was more important than his life, this strengthens my idea of Lady Macbeth being a selfish, domineering woman and to questions a mans honour and make him feel fed up with himself shows Lady Macbeth doesn’t really care about him. This part of the play I feel sympathy towards Macbeth.
Leading up to the murder of Duncan Macbeth starts to hallucinate, he sees a dagger before him, Shakespeare allows us to see what’s happening in Macbeths mind this is called a (soliloquy) Macbeths soliloquy in act 2 scene 1.It shows he’s hesitant about committing the murder the knife he sees lures him into killing the king.
“Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going, and such an instrument I was to use”
This quote above shows that he is hesitant because the knife appears to show him the way and he questions it, I am sympathetic towards Macbeth at this stage of the play as he is going mad and he’s trying to convince him self he’s not as you will see in the next quote,
“There’s no such thing: It is the bloody business which informs thus to mine eyes”
He saying there’s no such thing proves my above reasoning correct. Macbeth appears to have been taken over by the witches reasoning when he says
“Witchcraft celebrates Pale hecates off’rings”
This proves the witches are starting to get a handhold of his mind this undermines my sympathy as he may start to become like the witches ‘evil’.
After Macbeth has committed the murder we see him totally regretting the murder of Duncan, as Macduff and Lennox are knocking on his door we hear Macbeth say
“Wake thy Duncan with thy knocking: I would thou couldst”
At this stage of the play I feel more sympathetic towards Macbeth as if he could bring Duncan back he would, this obviously means he’s regretted what he was forced to do.
After Macduff and Lennox have discovered the king is dead they blame the guards as Lady Macbeth covered them with Duncan’s blood and covered their daggers with it too, Macbeth instantly kills them this is so the guards cannot defend themselves. Afterwards we don’t hear Macbeth regret or even flinch over the guard’s murders but he says
“Who can be wise, amazed, temp’rate, and furious Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man the expedition of my violent love”
Macbeth is saying it would have been inhuman of him not to kill the guards and we know that’s a lie so as he goes over the top with him regretting everything and he goes over the top, this undermines our sympathy for Macbeth.
Further into the play Macbeths paranoid that almost everyone knows about him killing the king this sends Macbeth on a power trip to kill everyone in his way first of all he attempts to kill Banquo and Fleanece, Banquo gets murdered but Fleanece manages to escape unharmed at this part of the story Macbeth is undermining my sympathy as he says
“Well then, now have you considered of my speeches? Know, that it was he in the times paste which held you so under fortune, which you thought had been out innocent self?”
The quote above is saying that its all Banquos fault Banquo is going to die not Macbeths. This part really undermines my sympathy for Macbeth, as I know it is not Banquos fault it is just that Macbeth is scared of Banquo, he knows Banquo is brave and wont worry about him. The next killing spree Macbeth goes on is to Macduffs house to kill his villagers and his wife and son, I think this is where the sympathy drops by a large amount Macbeth didn’t have to do this it’s just because he knows he can and he might be able to get away with it.
Soon after Macbeth has no one left, no friends only a psychotic wife who only cares about herself, Macbeth realises this and starts to feel fed up with life (suicidal),
“I have lived long enough”
This does not create any sympathy for Macbeth in my opinion as he has already done the damage by killing innocent people. This just shows how honourable Macbeth is as by killing the king he feels he should take his own life, in a away I respect Macbeth for this but it doesn’t gain any sympathy for him.
The next part of this essay is on Macbeth’s death I think Macbeth died as a soldier he fought some of the English army on his own the play ends as it began Macbeth being introduced as a soldier and him dying as a soldier Macbeth dies by getting decapitated.
I disagree with Macduffs remark calling Macbeth a ‘dead butcher’ as if it weren’t for his wife he wouldn’t of committed all of those murders if his wife hadn’t started him off by manipulated him at the start by questioning his honour to kill the king just so she can be queen. I think Macbeth’s honour plays a large part in this essay, as this was the thing to start him off his wife questioning it.