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Macbeth Moral Decay Essay

Soliloquy, or the act of speaking one’s thoughts aloud, is the subject to which this question is being answered. In Acts 1 to 3 of Macbeth, the character Macbeth speaks of three particular soliloquy’s in which his moral and nature both move from a high ranking position into a continually falling characteristic of heroic decay.

In Act 1 scene 7 Macbeth highlights, in his first soliloquy, the issues of committing the crime of murder and how it teaches others to act as criminals and to break out in violence, which then comes back to plague oneself. Macbeth is also sympathetic when he speaks of the king, saying he is a humble leader and that the king even trusts him. “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, not bear the knife myself” (1.7.13-16).

Here Macbeth is saying that he is the kings kinsmen and host and that it is his job to protect him, as well as closing the door on the murderer trying to get to the king, not to be the murderer himself. Macbeth ends this soliloquy with a statement that gives a hint to his future ever-growing cruel self. He says, “Upon the sightless couriers of the air, shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, that tears shall drown the wind” (1.7.23-24). Macbeth foreshadows his future deed and even states that the people will be overwhelmed in sorrow over Duncan’s death.

In Macbeth’s second soliloquy in Act 2 scene 1, he specifically says, “Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going, and such an instrument I was to use,” meaning that the imaginary dagger of which he speaks of is motivating and leading him to commit the crime of which he was planning, but was weary, to do (2.1.42-43). In this act, Macbeth talks to an image of a dagger that is a hallucination of his mind. The dagger may be symbolic of his own self, in which he says “And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before,” concluding that Macbeth was once clean but is now becoming more and more infected by his dark and dirty deeds, much like the dagger was once clean but is now dotted with blood (2.1.46-47). Macbeth also hears a bell ring which inspires him to take off and find Duncan before his courage wears off.

In Act 3 scene 1 Macbeth’s third soliloquy highlights the fear he has of Banquo because of his intelligence and nobility. One can see the dramatic change of Macbeth’s character from the first soliloquy to the third soliloquy as he now has become greedy and jealous. Macbeth believes that he has worked hard and committed a crime for nothing since the throne will be passed on to Banquo’s sons instead of to his own descendants. Macbeth states, “Put rancors in the vessels of my peace only for them,” saying that he has ruined his own peace for the benefit of Banquo and his sons (3.1.67-68).

Ultimately, there is a major change in Macbeth’s moral from the first act to the third. Macbeth’s motivation at first was solely by ambition, then it was anxiety and paranoia of committing the actual crime, and finally in his last soliloquy Macbeth became greedy and unsatisfied once he had power and control of the throne. Macbeth thought he would be much more gratified with having the power of the king then he actually was in the end. He then begins to second-guess his deeds and starts to become neurotic from the paranoia of over thinking and over-analyzing the whole situation. Macbeth’s moral decay resulted from his unconscious madness that drove him to commit many murders.


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