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Essay on Macbeth

0 April 01 2016, 11:38 in Literary Analysis Essays

Macbeth: Villain or a Hero?

Macbeth is a play of drama and tragedy set in Scotland. At a glance, the present King of Scotland heard that the protagonist, Macbeth and a co-army captain Banquo, had defeated two different invading armies. Macbeth defeated the army of Macdonwald from Ireland while Banquo defeated the army from Norway.

Meanwhile, three Witches had predicted and told Macbeth, our protagonist, that he will soon be a King of Scotland. The three witches had also prophesized that future Kings will be from the descendants of Banquo, his fellow army captain. With the prod of Lady Macbeth, his ambitious wife, Macbeth himself murders the king, becomes the new King of Scotland and asked guerillas to kill Banquo and his sons due to the fear that the prophecy of Banquo’s descendants becoming the king will also be true. Macduff, the Thane of Fife, had suspected that Macbeth had killed the late King Duncan and eventually helped Malcolm, the rightful King, to avenge and take down the Army of Macbeth. In the end Malcolm gets the throne and becomes the new king of Scotland.

From this plot, we could say that the main theme of this play is the greed of power and violence. These could be observed in the development of Macbeth’s character in the play. Here, Macbeth’s physical bravery had been consumed by his wrong ambitions that turned him into a villain protagonist. It is safe to say that there had been heroic acts made by Macbeth, but then the evil deeds he created are what makes him a villain more than a hero. To analyze this notion correctly, his reasons for his wrongdoings, as well as the role of other characters for his actions, should be discussed.

Initially, Macbeth was a good general. His will of power started even before he had committed the murder. He was brave and loyal to the country when he defeated the army of Ireland, causing him to win his title of the Thane of Cawdor. But this will for power had also caused him to unleash his evil side. He killed the King to get the power he always wanted and then later made his people kill Banquo. As Macbeth stated on his fear of Banquo: "There’s none but he whose being I do fear” (III, i). Again, he vanished Banquo to protect his power. These are the deeds that made him into a villain.

More so, together with his wife, he planted the blame into the innocent guards in the Castle that had nothing to do with King Duncan’s death. He later killed the guards due to his anxiety. If Macbeth’s actions are not a villainous act, then perhaps there wouldn’t be a need for prison at all.

However, other characters had also played a key role on Macbeth’s evil acts. First is the three witches in which in act 1 scene III, they said "All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be King hereafter:” This had caused the great desire of Macbeth for power. By that time, King Duncan was the king, therefore, the only logic Macbeth had on this is to kill Duncan—making the prophesy true. But what he looked past was that the witches give their prophecies in the basis of fate or destiny. He shouldn’t have altered the fate’s system.

Another character that had invoked the murderous character of Macbeth is his own wife, Lady Macbeth. When she finds out about the witches predictions, she pushed Macbeth’s plans of killing Duncan further. "When you durst do it, then you were a man; and to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man” (I.VII.). This is the line that Lady Macbeth used to encourage Macbeth to kill Duncan, saying that Macbeth is not a man if he is too afraid to kill Duncan. Afraid that Duncan might be seen less of a man by his wife, Macbeth does the deed.

During the day of the murder, Lady Macbeth mentioned that she would’ve killed Duncan herself had he not look much like her father. From here, we could see that Lady Macbeth therefore was the main reason on why Macbeth committed the crime. Macbeth was at first questioning his morals, but when persuaded by his wife, he did not think twice of killing the King Duncan. After the deed, Lady Macbeth told her husband that she is also carrying the blood in her hands for the crime they have committed and it would be shameful for her to act such cowardly, as in her line: "My hands are of your color; but I shame to wear a heart so white.” (II, ii).

Clearly, Shakespeare turned Macbeth’s character around. From being a brave and loyal man, he turned into an unfaithful murderous man of the King and of his country. And at the end of the play, just when he had killed all the persons that might block his success, he learns that Malcom and Macduff’s army are coming to invade his army and fight him. This was also the time that Lady Macbeth had committed suicide after realizing the acts she and his husband did and all the turmoil they have caused the country. She felt that she could not have washed the bloods in their hands and so, decided to kill herself.

Macbeth also realizes the evil acts he had done and felt a lot of sorrow for doing such things. Perhaps, this had become the reason why some would view him as a tragic hero, for even when they are of noble position, they could also create mistakes. But all these realizations do not compensate the loss of lives due to his fault.

Overall, it could also be said that Macbeth was just a victim of his own ambitions. Surely, certain characters such as the Three Witches had taken a great part in the tragic murders Macbeth committed, but their prophecies never mentioned anything about killing the King. In addition, even when his wife had teased him onto being less of a man had he not killed the King, he could’ve proved his manhood by doing other courageous things like defeating other armies that could invade the kingdom of Scotland in the future.

Macbeth had led himself to self-destruction and even when he was a victim of greed for power, the way he handled his actions were far too wrong to be accepted by the society. Macbeth might be a heroic captain of the army, but because of all the crimes and lies he committed, he is never far from being called a villain.

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