The Character of Macbeth

2227 Words Sep 29th, 1999 9 Pages
The Character of Macbeth

The play 'Macbeth ' is a portrait of one man, Macbeth, showing how he changes.
Although we are presented with his deterioration from good to evil, we can see his human side throughout the play, which makes it a tragedy. It is the shortest of Shakespeare 's tragedies, and has a very fast pace. Once Macbeth 's ambition has ‘set the ball rolling ', events happen quickly in the play as it gathers momentum. The themes of ‘Macbeth ' are ambition, effects of evil, and violence, shown mainly by the language of the play, as in Shakespeare 's time plays were performed in daylight with very few props. Ambition is something that everyone can identify with, and ‘Macbeth ' is a compelling study of how ambition can destroy
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'(1:7 L12-16) This shows that Macbeth is not totally evil, but his ambition spurs him on. Later in the scene, Macbeth decides not to commit the murder, but Lady Macbeth taunts him until he gives in, showing that he is weak, and Lady Macbeth is much the more dominant of the two. Lady Macbeth had said earlier ‘I fear thy nature, it is too full o 'th 'milk of human kindness ' (1:5 L14-15), showing that she knew that
Macbeth was not strong enough or evil enough to murder Duncan on his own, and she would have to push him into it. This shows that Macbeth was decent, but not strong minded.

As the time for Duncan 's murder draws nearer and nearer, Macbeth becomes more and more nervous, and is prone to hallucinations; for example when he says ‘Is this a dagger I see before me ' (2:1 L35) and ‘I see thee still and on thy blade dudgeon gouts of blood '(2:1 L45-46); he is imagining that he sees a dagger covered with blood pointing towards Duncan 's chamber. He later describes another hallucination - ‘Thou sure and firm-set earth, hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear thy very stones prate of my whereabouts ' (2:1 L56-58). He is afraid that the stones will call out to the people that he is a murderer. Both hallucinations show that he is sensitive and has big doubts about the murder, and he is not entirely a cold-blooded murderer, who would have no such scruples.

However, his language becomes more and more to do with