Macbeth is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare (in 1606) at the beginning of the 17th century, for King James 1st. At this time the Elizabethan’s believed that witches were real and actually did these evil deeds. At the time when the play was written the “Divine right of Kings” was written to protect the Kings of England from being killed. If a King (or Queen) was killed it was thought that it had disturbed the natural order. This effects the play greatly. The play is set in the highlands of Scotland, where a war has just ended.
The main character “Macbeth” met with some witches on the moors after battle, who predicted that he would become Thane of Glamis and King of Scotland. Macbeth was appointed Thane of Glamis for his bravery as a soldier in the war. The next prediction then came true by Macbeth being forced by his wife Lady Macbeth to murder his King. Macbeth was then appointed King of Scotland. His best friend Banquo also received a prediction from the witches but chose to ignore it. Macbeth not wanting the prediction to come true murdered Banquo for his own personal gain.Order now
At the end of act four Macbeth is in our lowest estimations as he has just murdered Macduff’s innocent wife and children, as well as his King and his best friend. Macbeth is acting as a butcher, an evil tyrant who is doing everything that the witches want him to do. By doing this he and his wife have sold their souls to the devil and will go to hell. At the beginning of act five Lady Macbeth is sleepwalking. In her sleepwalks she is reliving the murder of King Duncan. This reminds us of how Macbeth reacted to Duncan’s murder.
How he heard voices, ” ‘Macbeth shall sleep no more’ “, yet this is what is happening to his calm wife; Lady Macbeth. She is now not able to sleep. Lady Macbeth was the stronger of the two, now that she is going mad what will Macbeth be feeling? This shows us that if Lady Macbeth is not sleeping, that Macbeth will not be either, he will be going through much the same thing as Lady Macbeth. This creates sympathy by showing us that Macbeth is still slightly human, and regrets his actions in the murders.
In the soliloquies, which Macbeth speaks, it gives us a chance to see how Macbeth is really thinking and feeling – which is very different to what everyone sees. Macbeth appears as a brave King with valiant fury. He is fighting all the odds and seems to be handling things very well, but in fact the soliloquies prove this wrong and tell us how Macbeth is really feeling. He feels as if he life is not worth living anymore. That he has achieved what he set out to do, and not achieved it very well. As he has no friends left, ” As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have ” We see that he has lost all human values.
The soliloquies enable the audience to get inside Macbeth’s mind and see how he is thinking, this makes us feel sympathy for Macbeth as we can see his side of the story and how he regrets what he has done. We understand how his mind works because of the soliloquies which allow us to get inside Macbeth’s head. To him life is now meaningless, ” Life’s like a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage “, this show us how Macbeth see life – meaningless and pointless as he realises what he has done.
The play Macbeth is a tragedy, and the tragic character is Macbeth, his tragic flaw is his ambition that he wants to be the best for himself and his wife. The fact that Macbeth is a good soldier makes us feel slightly upset that he has followed the witches predictions and murdered his King, and his best friend, because if he did not do these things he could have been one of the best soldiers of the Scottish army. This creates sympathy by knowing that Macbeth could have been better, but was wasted by his gullibility of the witches predictions, and his ambition.
His ambition blinded his common knowledge to make him believe the witches evil intents. The audience realises that the witches are evil and that they purposely tricked Macbeth into believing that he is invincible, ” none of woman born shall harm Macbeth “, this gives Macbeth a sense of invincibility, the witches have given him unreal confidence. This makes the audience feel pity for Macbeth because he got mixed up in the witches games.
The witches betrayed Macbeth by tricking him into believing that it will be very difficult to defeat Macbeth, Macbeth shall never be vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him “, this seems to mean that when Birnam Wood comes to Macbeth’s castle. This is unlikely as trees cannot move and gives Macbeth even more confidence and yet believing the witches predictions, ” Till Birnam wood remove to Dunsinane I cannot taint with fear “. By carrying out their prophecies he is obeying the devil and has sold his soul to the devil as will Lady Macbeth for forcing her husband to murder his King and they will both go to hell for what they have done.
Yet this fact does not seem to bother Macbeth. He cares about this life and not the next one. At first no-one notices that the English forces move in as they disguise themselves with the trees from Birnam Wood. When Macbeth does realise that the woods are moving he thinks of the witches prophecy and begins to worry, ” To doubt the equivocation of the fiend that lies like truth; ‘ Fear not, till Birnam wood do come to Dunsinane ‘. Yet he does worry about the woods moving too much but he has the witches ‘ reliable ‘ predictions which say that he cannot be harmed by any man born from a woman to reassure him.
This creates sympathy as we know that he has been tricked by the witches and will be overcome. As Macbeth’s castle is under attack he kills all the soldiers that attack him. Then he meets Macduff and as he has murdered all of Macduff’s family he tries to retreat from fighting him. But Macduff still fights. Macbeth is assured that he will not lose the battle to Macduff and tells him so, ” I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born “. with this Macduff replies, ” Macduff was from his Mother’s womb untimely ripp’d “, this means that Macduff was a premature caesarean birth. He was not born – as such.
The witches tricked Macbeth and he now realises this, ” these juggling fiends no more believ’d “. This brings Macbeth to his usual self – brave heroic, as we saw at the beginning of the play. This creates sympathy as we see his death of a waste of talent, that could have been so much more. In the ending scenes of the play the scenes become very short, but give an impact of something exciting happening, building up the end of the play. Making an impact on the coming scenes. At the time when the play was written the Elizabethan belief was that witches really existed and could play evil tricks like this on someone.
This is the main focus around the play, the witches put pressure on Macbeth to do these evil deeds, without Macbeth realising this. Macbeth seems dependant of the witches to tell him his future, but the witches trick him into thinking unholy thoughts and this leads Macbeth to the murder of his King, his best friend and Macduff’s wife and children. The witches play a significant part in the downfall of Macbeth as they manipulate him and his thinking so that they can have a little fun in ruining someone’s life.
Yet the witches did not succeed, Macbeth died as a tragic hero not the evil King that the witches wanted him to be. s The Elizabethan Belief of the “Divine Right of Kings” is also an important factor of the play as Macbeth disturbed the natural order of the country. Yet eventually everything was set right and the rightful King Malcolm came to the throne. Overall, Macbeth made a terrible mistake in believing the witches prophecies, but we do feel sympathy for him as he does realise this moments before he dies and reawakens the brave heroic soldier that he originally was.