Play Macbeth

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At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a respected general, a devoted husband, and a loyal subject of the king. The first of the witches' prophecies bring out his ambitious nature, but he struggles with killing the king. By attacking his manhood, Lady Macbeth convinces him to committ the first of his evil deeds. Macbeth's evil deed causes him to suffer from fear and guilt, which leads to even more evil crimes. Then Macbeth becomes paranoid, suffering from hallucinations and sleeplessness. He becomes less human as he tries over and over to establish his manhood. His ruthlessness in killing Banquo and Macduff's family shows how perverted his idea of manliness really is.

Macbeth's degeneration is also seen in the collapse of his marital
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The first apparition warns Macbeth to beware the thane of Fife; the second tells him that he cannot be harmed by anyone born of a woman; the third states that Macbeth will not be vanquished until "Great Birnan wood to high Dunsinane hill" rise against him (IV.i.93-4). Next, Macbeth asks whether or not Banquo's descendants will ever rule Scotland, and the witches show him a vision of Banquo, followed by eight kings. The vision and the weird sisters disappear as Lennox arrives with the information that Macduff has gone to England and that Malcolm is there as well. At this point, Macbeth decides to have Macduff's family murdered.

As Act V opens, Lady Macbeth's sleepwalking is revealed, Malcolm and Macduff have gathered an army against Macbeth, and many of Macbeth's own thanes have deserted him. But Macbeth seems to rely on his belief in his interpretation of the witches' prophesies, which he reviews in V.iii. He vows that his heart and mind will not "shake with fear" (V.iii.10). After learning of the his wife's death, however, Macbeth in a famous speech (V.v.16-28) expresses his weariness with life.

Clinging to the witches' words about his not being harmed by any one "of woman born" (IV.ii.80), Macbeth tells Macduff that his life is charmed, only to learn that his opponent was delivered via cesarean birth ("from his mother's womb / Untimely ripp'd" [V.viii.15-16]). Offstage, Macduff kills Macbeth and returns with his severed head.
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