Macbeth Character Analysis Nina Whyte

Macbeth Character
Nina Whyte
Macbeth’s Character
Brave and noble general in army
Prophecy leads him to regicide
Murders against his conscience
Kills more people in order to secure his new royalty
Guilt drives him insane
Becomes a hated tyrant
Macbeth Pre-Prophecy
Admirable nobleman
Macbeth Post-Prophecy
Greatly ambitious
Macbeth’s hallucinations represent his
Dagger soliloquy is the first sign of
Murders because he fears others are
threatening his power
Doesn’t want Duncan’s murder to have
been in vein
Hallucinations make him seem both
weak and strong at different points in
the play
Is Macbeth Evil?
Could be debated for or against
Fate vs. Freewill
What would’ve happened if he hadn’t met the witches?
If what they say is fate, can Macbeth control it?
Murderous ambition
Lady Macbeth attacks sexual performance and masculinity
Are you evil if you are insane?
Macbeth as a Tragic Hero
Aristotle defined the tragic hero as someone who:
Must have virtue and nobility
Must not be perfect
Must partially cause their own downfall
Does not wholly deserve their misfortune and their
punishment exceeds their crime
Macbeth's fault is too much ambition
Battle between morality and ambition
Lady Macbeth's Death
Shows despair at their work going to waste
Feels that life is hopeless
Doesn't consider taking his own life
Doesn't want Malcolm to become king
Doesn't want his guilt to be in vain
Sample Question
"Provide an in-depth analysis on one of the characters studied in a
text this year and how the audience is positioned to respond to
Shakespeare's Macbeth is a play that follows Macbeth, and his wife, as they hear a
prophecy of their future royalty, and attempt to gain the throne and secure their
position, eradicating anybody whom they perceive as a threat. Although Macbeth
begins as a brave and noble warrior, by the end of the play he comes across as an
insane and hated tyrant because, although he is plagued by the guilt of his many
murders, he feels that the way to free himself from this guilt is to kill anybody who
threatens him. Macbeth's insanity, represented by his hallucinations and constant
guilt, makes it difficult to judge whether or not he is evil, but the viewer can
certainly see a change in his character for the worse from before he hears the
prophecy to after. Lady Macbeth's suicide is when Macbeth realises that his efforts
may have been futile, and he settles into a deep despair. Throughout the play,
Macbeth's constant changes of character make it difficult for the viewer to form a
positive or negative opinion on him; he is the perfect example of a tragic hero.
Quote References
“And put a barren scepter in my
Thence to be wrenched with an
unlineal hand,
No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be
For Banquo’s issue have I filed my
For them the gracious Duncan have
I murdered;
Put rancors in the vessel of my
Only for them.”
(Act 3, Scene 1, Line 61)
“If chance will have me king, why,
chance may crown me,
Without my stir.”
(Act 1, Scene 3, Line145)
“Prince of Cumberland! That is a
step On which I must fall down, or
else o'erleap, For in my way it lies.”
(Act 1, Scene 4, Line 50)
Quote References
“Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire?”
(Act 1, Scene 7, Line 40)
“When you durst do it, then you were
a man.”
(Act 1, Scene7, Line 49)
“I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but
Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps
(Act 1, Scene 7, Line 25)
“Why should I play the Roman fool and
On mine own sword?”
(Act 5, Scene 8, Line 1)
Quote References
“She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such
a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and
Creeps in this petty pace from day to
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted
The way to dusty death. Out, out,
brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor
That struts and frets his hour upon the
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
(Act 5, Scene 5, Line 20)
Macbeth 2014, Shmoop 25/5/2014
Macbeth, Analysis of Major Characters (n.d.), Sparknotes
Introduction to the Main Characters in Macbeth (n.d.), 25/5/2014
How is Macbeth a Tragic Hero? 2011, e notes 25/5/2014