English 1222 November 1996William Shakespeare, when writing The Tragedy of Macbeth, tried toestablish two important characteristics of man for the time setting of theplay. Macbeth is a thane in Scotland who is at first faithful to his king,Duncan, but later turns against him and becomes king himself throughmurder. The characteristics that Macbeth has to have and does at theopening of the play, are loyalty to one’s king and loyalty to God. Shakespeare shows that like all tragic heros, Macbeth has a fatal flaw,ambition, and because of it he loses all his goodness and becomes acorrupt, cold-blooded killer, who only cares about himself. At the opening of the play, Macbeth is noted for his courage in battlewith the king’s enemy.Order now
He is praised for his loyalty and is considered agood friend by Duncan. In the first scene, Macbeth is the hero because hesaves the king and his kingdom from the attack of a traitor, the Thane ofCawdor. Every character that the reader meets up to that point says thatMacbeth is a kind, brave, and honorable man. A wounded soldier in thefirst Act scene ii says:”For brave Macbeth,- well he deserves that name,-Disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel,Which smok’d with bloody execution,Like valour’s minion,Carv’d out his passage till he fac’d the slave;And ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,Till he unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps,And fix’d his head upon our battlements.
“(27-34) As far as the othercharacters can see he deserves nothing but praise for his heroism. Macbeth has no intention of killing his ruler or of even betrayinghim until he meets the three witches who tell him that he will become king. They also tell him that he will become the Thane of Cawdor, which he doesnot believe because he is not told yet about the Thane of Cawdor being atraitor and being executed. When Macbeth reaches the castle he isofficially given the tittle of Cawdor and that is when he gets ambitiousand begins to think of murdering Duncan for his tittle.
In scene iv Act I,Macbeth finds out that while he gets a bigger tittle, Duncan’s son gets thetittle of Prince of Cumberland, which makes him next in line for thethrone. In an aside Macbeth says to himself:”The Prince of Cumber-land! That is a step,On which I must fall down, or else o’er leap,For in my way it lies. Stars hide your fires!Let not light see my black and deep desires:The eye wink at the hand! Yet let that be,Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see. ” At first he expresseshis desire to become king in an unnatural way if that be necessary. Thenhe stops himself, almost convinced that what he is thinking of doing iswrong. That night Macbeth goes home with Duncan for a feast and when Duncanis fast asleep, Macbeth stabs him in the back.
He has lost one of the maincharacteristics by the end of the first act and is already becoming acorrupt individual. Before the murder actually happens, Macbeth shows hisfeelings on the subject when he says:”He’s here in double trust:First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,Who should against his murder shut the door,Not bear the knife myself. “(12-16) Because he is not completelycorrupt he still feels some remorse for the deed he is about to commit,although it does not stop him from doing it. Throughout the play, Macbeth loses all felling of honor or repentance. He kills his friend Banquo because he poses a threat to his future and thefuture of his children (whom he does not yet have), he pits all of thenobles against the two sons of Duncan because it is convenient for him,even though they are innocent. Later he does the same to the son ofBanquo, Fleance, but only because his men do not get the chance to killhim.
Shakespeare shows Macbeth’s final and complete loss of any semblanceof morals when Macbeth sends murderers to kill Lady Macduff and herchildren although they have done nothing and are paying with their livesfor something that Macduff did to