Macbeth - Character Changes Essay

This essay has a total of 1353 words and 6 pages.

Macbeth - Character Changes


"This dead butcher and his fiend like queen", is the way in which Malcolm describes
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Describe the way in which these two characters changed during
the course of the play.


At the beginning of the play Macbeth is seen as a courageous soldier who is loyal to the
King but is corrupted from the witches prophecies and by his and Lady Macbeth's ambition.
This is because of the weakness of Macbeth's character and the strong power of Lady
Macbeth and how she is easily able to influence him. Her strength motivates him at the
start but after he realises what he has done it is himself that continues in his
murderous, bloody path. At the beginning of the play Lady Macbeth appears as a kind wife
of Macbeth's but underneath lies a scheming and treacherous woman.


In the beginning of the play Macbeth is a strong soldier who fights for the King without
mercy but his strive for ambition and his curious nature leads him to the witches who give
him a prophecy. Banquo realises that there must be a trick hidden in the witches
prophecies somewhere but Macbeth refuses to accept that, and 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 which gives
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 which 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 he has been tricked by the witches 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.


Lady Macbeth seems to be almost opposite compared to that of Macbeth in physical and
mental power. Lady Macbeth is the person who is able to persuade Macbeth into killing
Duncan, assuring Macbeth that it will succeed, as Lady Macbeth's ambition is far greater
than that of Macbeth. This change in the character of Lady Macbeth is apparent after she
reads the letter from Macbeth as she goes and talks to the evil spirits to make herself
evil with lines such as "Fill me from the crown to the toe-top full of direst cruelty!
Make thick my blood". She goes to the extent of planning the murder of Duncan and assumes
full responsibility of this. She exerts a lot of power over Macbeth in this part of the
play and even calls him a "coward" and this shows just how determined she is and how much
ambition she has for her husband. It is this confidence in herself plus the persuasiveness
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