Transformation from “Brave Macbeth to “This dead Butcher”
William Shakespeare’s play “MacBeth” tells the story of Macbeth change from a brave
general, to a vicious murderer. At the start of the play Macbeth is acknowledge by the
king as a brave and honourable general, after he heard of Macbeth’s great victory in the
battlefield. He promotes Macbeth to Thane of Cawdor, which was still unknown by both
Macbeth and Banquo when they came across the three weird sisters.
“All Hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Cawdor” (I:III:51)
“All Hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter” (I:III:53)
Macbeth was sceptical about these prophecies, however developed faith in them when
Ross, following the king’s orders titles him Thane of Cawdor.
Macbeth does not let on to anyone about his ever-increasing desire to become king.Order now
“If chance will have me king, why chance will crown me.” (I:III:154)
Macbeth tells his lady about the prophecies and she is instantly enthusiastic about the
prospect of Macbeth becoming king.
“Great Glamis, Worthy Cawdor! Greater than both by the all-hail hereafter!
Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present and I feel now the
future is an instant.” (I:V:58)
Macbeth’s desire turns to an obsession and with lady Macbeth; they make plans to
assassinate king Duncan. Macbeth’s strong conscience overpowers his obsession and
he resigns from the fatal ploy. He sees a vision of a dagger drifting in the direction of
Duncan’s room, which convinces him to take part in the sinful act of murder.
“False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” (I:VII:92)
Macbeth is discomforted and confused after the murder of Duncan, but does not
express his emotions to anyone. Malcom and Donalbain Duncan’s sons in fear for their
lives flee the country, leaving Macbeth to assume the role as king.
After reigning as king for a little while, Macbeth becomes concerned with the continuation
of his supremacy. The weird sisters spoke of Banquo as being “lesser but greater, not so
happy yet much happier, Thou shalt get kings though be none” (I:III:68)
This plays on Macbeths mind for a while and his desire proves to be to strong. His guilty
conscience is taken over and in an attempt to control fate Macbeth devises a plan to kill
both Banquo and his son Fleance.
Macbeth is disturbed when he receives word that Banquo had been murdered, but
Fleance escaped. Macbeth begins to hallucinate and is constantly hunted by a ghost of
Banquo. During these hallucinations in the presence of many noblemen, Macbeth
reveals emotions and thoughts from deep down inside. Many noblemen now suspect him
as the murderer of Duncan and Banquo. He becomes isolated from many people
including Lady Macbeth. Macbeth’s desire to reign as king has led him to kill.
His obsession drives him to revisit the weird sisters, to obtain the answers to his
questions. MacBeths fatal flaw is shown clearly when the image of Eight kings pass
before him, with the Ghost of Banquo following.
“What is this so?” (IV:I:134)
“Ay sir, all this is so; but why stands MacBeth so amazedly” (IV:I:138)
It shows that he has yet to realise that he cannot control fate, and Banquo will father a
line of kings no matter what he does to try and prevent it from happening.
The first of the second set of prophecies
“Beware Macduff! Beware the Thane of Fife.” (IV:I:77)
almost instantly became apparent when Lennox brings word that Macduff has fled to
England. The bluntness of his orders shows how selfish and arrogant he has become.
“Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ the sword, his wife, his babies, and all the
unfortunate souls that trace him to his line.” (IV:I:165)
MacBeth is prepared for the invasion by Macduff and Malcom, his overwhelming pride
causes him to feel fearless of Macduff, and is filled with confidence before they confront
each other, but when they do eventually meet MacBeth does not want to fight. He has
realised how ruthless he has been in his actions and how guilty he is of slaughtering
many innocent people to benefit him. How selfish and pretentious he has been in his
attempt to control fate. He is eventually slained after being to proud to concede defeat
and having to kneel before his successor, the son of his first victim, Malcom.
MacBeths transformation from a brave general to a dead murderer, was not gradual, his
overwhelming pride and his inability to realise he could not play the part of God brought