Is Macbeth a man or a monster? Essay

Published: 2021-07-24 07:55:06
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Category: William Shakespeare

Type of paper: Essay

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Upon the opening of the play of Macbeth we hear of him through narrative but do not see him, though the sergeant is biased towards Macbeth and Banquo in his report of them in battle. We find out from the sergeant that Macbeth is someone who portrayed valour on the battlefield. However, this is interesting because we find out later that Macbeth is not as ruthless when he is not on the battlefield. Macbeth was frightened of the witches when he first saw them. Firstly by their appearance and secondly by their predictions, but what is interesting is that the witches predicted things which were positive so Macbeth was afraid of how he might react after hearing their predictions. So we have clues that Macbeth had already thought about plotting to kill the king because of his ambition. All he needed was a little push to carry it through.
Banquo, however, realises that there must be a trick hidden in the witch’s prophecies somewhere but Macbeth refuses to accept that. When Lady Macbeth finds out about the witches her strong desire for ambition and her cold nature leads Macbeth astray. Macbeth is a little ambitious at first, but Lady Macbeth’s far exceeds his and so she is able to get Macbeth to agree with her to kill King Duncan. Macbeth still has a conscience at this stage because he is very hesitant about killing the King but his weak nature over comes him. He has a conscience throughout the entire play as this is seen by the hallucinations of the dagger and the ghost of Banquo and his vivid imagination and his constant worry also provokes him. This is also evident in his terrible dreams that give the solid theme that he has indeed “murdered sleep”.
Throughout the play we see the character of Macbeth change not from just the way he thinks and what we hear from the play, but from the actions he takes in the play, from killing Banquo, then having Lady Macduff and her children murdered, shows the insecurity that was present in Macbeth. After the murder of Duncan Macbeth becomes paranoid and his first step of killing the guards is one of many that Macbeth takes to secure himself. Macbeth is also very superstitious and this is shown when he believes the prophecy the witches told him that Banquo’s offspring would become Kings.
Towards the end of the play when Macbeth’s wife has died and the battle is drawing closer Macbeth shows some good that may have been. He wishes for a normal life for which he would have lived to an honourable age but he recognises that he has denied himself of this. Even when Macbeth hears that the prophecy has become true of Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane, he rejects this idea and fights on until he realises that Macduff wasn’t born in a natural birth but instead was “Untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb. When Macbeth hears of this he realises what he has done and how the witches have tricked him but instead he realises that it is useless and so he fights on only to be slain.
Macbeth can be summarised into a character although strong physically he is very weak mentally and it is this weakness, which causes the downfall and change of Macbeth. Other factors do however also contribute to this change such as his wife whose ambition is very strong at first and is much more stronger mentally than Macbeth but it is also Macbeth’s ambition and his trust in the witches which ultimately change him.
During the course of the play and the events that go on, it seems to the audience that it will be Macbeth who loses his mind and become mad, but this is not so. We see Macbeth keep his sanity throughout which shows how strong he is, although he does hallucinate. We see that in Act 2 Scene 1, Macbeth sees a dagger floating before him, which only he can see. He says, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee. I have thee not yet I see thee still.” Also, we see that Macbeth isn’t a monster at all, although he does terrible things. After he kills Duncan, Macbeth immediately feels guilty for what he has done. This shows that Macbeth is human as guilt is a human quality. We see Macbeth’s mind slip out of focus as his wife tries to calm him. He says whilst still in a daydream state “Will all great Neptune’s oceans wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.”
Another factor, which must be taken into account when looking at Macbeth’s character change, could be the three Witches. The three witches are introduced right at the beginning of the play. They recount to Macbeth three prophecies. That Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis and King. These prophecies introduce Macbeth to ideas of greatness. Macbeth will eventually follow through on killing king Duncan, a destruction of the natural order; it was sometimes thought that the witches had the ability to reverse the natural order of things. This brings into the play idea of fate and the role with which it has in the play. We can wonder if Macbeth ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the witches.
It is however, more realistic to believe that Macbeth was responsible for his own actions throughout the play as in the end it was he who made the final decisions.
Banquo says in line 24, “The instruments of darkness tell us truths, / Win us with honest trifles, to betray “s / In deepest consequence.” He thinks and says bad things of the witches. He calls them instruments of darkness and the devil. He might believe that these prophecies will only bring harm even before anything begins to happen. So Macbeth is warned by his best friend before he makes any decisions that the witches are evil, and what they suggest is evil.
The witches could foretell the future, they can add temptation, and influence Macbeth, because they had told Macbeth that he would be King he became impatient and tried to hurry it as quickly as he could. But they cannot control his destiny. Macbeth creates his own misery when he is driven by his own sense of guilt. This causes him to become insecure as to the reasons for his actions, which in turn causes him to commit more murders. The witches offer great enticement, but it is in the end, each individual’s decision to fall for the temptation, or to be strong enough to resist their captivation. The three Witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas in Macbeth head, but they are not responsible for his actions throughout the play.
Overall, after looking through the play and also seeing a version on video, I can say without a doubt that Macbeth is most definitely a human not monster. He shows too many human qualities throughout the play to be considered a monster. Even though Macbeth does some terribly evil things I think he regrets most of them, although to late to stop doing them. Even so he must be considered a human for the remorse he shows and for his courageousness and bravery during the whole of the play.

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