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Macbeth: A Critical Analysis

Categories Macbeth By Shakespeare, Macbeth Character, Shakespeare

Analysis, Pages 5 (1059 words)

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Analysis, Pages 5 (1059 words)

William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a tragedy set in 11th century Scotland. The play revolves around a most loyal man, Macbeth, and his ultimate rise and fall from power. Macbeth is a brave and courageous man, until his life changes after encountering 3 witches who give him two predictions. These two predictions, along with his wife and his own ambition, serve to his rise to power and ultimate downfall, conveying the prominent theme of power corruption.

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He begins to selfishly kill innocent friends and family, only to enhance himself. However, Malcolm is crowned king, restoring order in the country. A critical analysis of this play will include an evaluation of the three main characters and the overall theme.

One important character in the play is Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s wife and queen of Scotland. Lady Macbeth serves to be a prominent character in the ascend and decline of her husband by her continuous manipulation and selfish acts.

Her evil intentions can be seen by her conjuring evil spirits to feel free from the guilt and sorrow of the murder of Duncan. Her character can best be described as manipulative, as she convinces Macbeth to murder the king and receive what is “rightfully his.” This ambition and desire to become queen and gain power ultimately lead to her own downfall, as the guilt she tries to escape engulfs her. She begins to sleepwalk and while dreaming notices blood on her hands, which serves as an example of blood imagery.

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While trying to wash the blood off, Lady Macbeth begins to say, “ Out, damned spot! Out I say! One, two / Tis time to do it.” (5.1.38) Here, Shakespeare’s use of diction and forceful tone serves to intensify blood imagery, the most dominant imagery in the play. Her guilt finally overweighs her once she asks herself, “ The Thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?” (5.1.46) Her overwrought conscience leads her to commit suicide.

Another major figure in the play is Macduff, the Thane of Fife. Macduff is a very loyal and honorable man to his country and king. His character serves as the antagonist to Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis. Macduff believes Macbeth is a brave and strong man, until suspicion arises over the murder of Duncan and his chamberlains. After Macbeth is crowned king, Macduff believes that it is best to flee to England, joining forces with General Siward and the rightful king Malcolm. However, Macduff makes a critical mistake by leaving his family unprotected. Once Macbeth receives word that Macduff has fled, he sends murderers to kill Macuff’s family. Upon Ross delivering this news to Macduff, he becomes heart broke and his emotions overtake him. After realizing the extent of Macbeth’s deed he states to Ross, “ He has no children. All my pretty ones? / Did you say all? O hell-kite. All?” (4.3) Macduff could not begin to believe that Macbeth has so much evil in him. Macduff utilizes this anger and turns it into “Fuel” to overtake Macbeth. Upon arrival back to Scotland, Macduff’s forces lay siege upon Inverness, Macbeth’s castle. Macduff finally confronts Macbeth and while stating that he can not be harmed by women born, Macduff states:

Despair thy charm,
And let the angel whom thou still hast served
Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb
Untimely ripped. (5.8)

Here, the reader is provided with information as to how Macbeth’s downfall will transpire. The reader can conclude that it is Macduff’s “Destiny” is to kill Macbeth and restore order in Scotland.

The most important character in Macbeth is Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King of Scotland. Macbeth is a very brave and courageous man at the beginning of the play. He seems to be the flawless character until three witches give him two predictions that will “Juggle” his life. The witches first predict that he will become Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland. After he becomes Thane of Cawdor, he believes that he will become king, and his flaw, ambition, is revealed. This ambition, his wife, and the predictions lead Macbeth to “Catch the nearest way to become king”, killing Duncan. The reader immediately realizes that Macbeth regrets his actions when Macbeth states, “Methought I heard a voice cry, sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep!” (2.2.34-35) However, Lady Macbeth reassures him that all is going as planned, and the bloodshed has just begun. This influence and his quest for total control lead to a path of shear rage and destruction, and ultimately his downfall, conveying the Main theme of Power corruption. He begins to rule as a tyrant, slaying anyone in his path. What once was a trusted and honorable man, is now a selfish, heartless monster. In order to protect his reign and life, he has murders sent to kill Banquo, his greatly trusted friend and “father of kings”, and Macduff’s family. He begins to lose the feeling of fear until a scream echoes through Inverness one night. This scream was the fatal suicide attempt by Lady Macbeth, which has an effect on Macbeth. As Macbeth hears this news, he stops to reflect on life and questions the purpose when he states:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing. (5.5.19-28)

Here the reader realizes that Macbeth finally realizes the consequences of his actions and understands that Macbeth has nothing to live for, as life through his eyes has no purpose or meaning. However, Macbeth dies very valiantly in combat with Macduff, restoring order once Malcolm is crowned king.

The theme of Macbeth is “Power Corrupts.” Shakespeare very brilliantly developed this theme by starting with a flawless man that soon realized he indeed had a flaw. Through the theme of Appearance v. Reality, Macbeth appeared flawless to everyone, while in reality he was a cold-blooded murder. His flaw, ambition, would lead him to the ultimate power, but his ambition to gain total control marked his downfall.

Cite this essay

Macbeth: A Critical Analysis. (2020, Sep 11). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/macbeth-a-critical-analysis-essay

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