How does Shakespeare create sympathy for Macbeth in the play?

Categories: William Shakespeare

In the play Macbeth is portrayed as a tragic hero whose injudicious actions led by his vaulting ambition has resulted in a fatal ending which helps in creating a great deal of sympathy for Macbeth. Firstly Shakespeare creates sympathy for Macbeth through his more ambitious wife Lady Macbeth. She plays a major role in creating sympathy for Macbeth as she insults his masculinity be saying “Was the hope drunk Wherein you dress'd yourself ?”,which gives Macbeth no other option but to follow her.

Shakespeare's of rhetorical questions conveys how Lady Macbeth is manipulating Macbeth to kill Duncan. This for the Shakespearian audience would be quite shocking as she verbally bombards a soldier who was supposed to be really manly and aggressive, but Macbeth doesn’t really say anything back to her which is showing how he is been controlled by her.

Furthermore, she uses personification which is another of her manipulative skill which reminds him about his ambition to be the Thane of Cawdor because drunken people often forget things.

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The audience see Lady Macbeth do this several times during Act1 scene 7 when she insults his sanity. For example, she says to “screw” his “courage” which leaves Macbeth to be feeble and accede what Lady Macbeth say him to do. Secondly, Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a victim of the scary encounter of Banquo's Ghost. Firstly Macbeth ordains the ghost to “never shake Thy gory locks at him!” when he first catches the sight of the ghost. Macbeth's use of the imperative his fatal attempts to take control of the supernatural, revealing a glimpse of the brave soldier the audience meet at the beginning of the play.

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He uses abominable imagery which portrays the disgusting and scary looks of the ghost as the audience wouldn’t be able to see the ghost in the play.

Furthermore the use of exclamation mark depicts Macbeth's horror and fear, this is ironic as he was the one who got Banquo Murdered, also Shakespeare presents Macbeth as overthrown by Banquo and that Banquo was supposed to be the king as in the stage direction it says that Banquo ghost is sitting in Macbeth's place ,showing how Macbeth doesn’t deserve his place making him an outcast rather than a powerful king. Furthermore, Shakespeare portrays how Macbeth is an ordinary man who is desperate for more normal life. Macbeth mentions how he wants “love, obedience, troops of friends” which lacks in his life. He uses long sentence filled with a list of things a king would have had and also which a are really essential for every human. Macbeth's use of the word 'obedience' which he once had when he was a loyal soldier, recalling his past gives a glimpse of Macbeth's regret over his nefarious actions.

In addition, this is showing that he is tired of living the way he is and suggesting his love for lady Macbeth which has not returned to him as the audience can't see this throughout the play. Moreover, when he finally loses Lady Macbeth when she kills herself, audience can then see that his chance of getting “love” is lost as he has lost everything he has. Moreover, Shakespeare creates a contrast between 'noble Macbeth' at the beginning and 'devil Macbeth' toward the end of the play when Macbeth has become an odious tyrant who doesn’t show any remorse in even killing his own best friend or even killing innocent Macduff's baby. Shakespeare gives Macbeth a title “noble Macbeth” which not every soldier or king would often get he and he receives this by the king himself.

He goes against the divine rights of a king which states how a king is equal to god but Macbeth goes against this with the help of his wife Lady Macbeth even though his conscience reminding him that he was overstepping the mark. Shakespeare’s use of diabolical imagery is taking the reference of how devil who was initially a really good angel but because of his pride and going against god he was forcefully sent to hell, likewise Macbeth's was initially a really good person but because of bad influence he is turned into the person he is.

Shakespeare makes so many biblical references of Macbeth forced being like the devil throughout the play like when Lady Macbeth says him to be the 'serpent underneath'which is a reference to the snake in the creation story, which helps the audience refer to this and understand more easily as they would have really similar to these concepts. In conclusion with the use of Lady Macbeth Shakespeare creates sympathy for Macbeth as she was the one who first heightened his ambitions. He knows and relishes what is good, but he has chosen the opposite making his life a tragedy.

Updated: Nov 01, 2022
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How does Shakespeare create sympathy for Macbeth in the play?. (2017, Nov 06). Retrieved from

How does Shakespeare create sympathy for Macbeth in the play? essay
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