Macbeth Character Analysis 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 Strong Trustworthy Brave Brutal Macbeth Post-Prophecy Greatly ambitious Guilty Fearful Murderous Insecure Hated Hallucinations Macbeth’s hallucinations represent his insanity Dagger soliloquy is the first sign of insanity 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: 1. 2. 3. 4. 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 them." 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 grip, Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so, For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered; Put rancors in the vessel of my peace 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 only Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself.” (Act 1, Scene 7, Line 25) “Why should I play the Roman fool and die 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 tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage 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) Bibliography Macbeth 2014, Shmoop 25/5/2014 <http://www.shmoop.com/macbeth/macbeth-character.html> Macbeth, Analysis of Major Characters (n.d.), Sparknotes 25/5/2014 <http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/canalysis.html > Introduction to the Main Characters in Macbeth (n.d.), 25/5/2014 <http://www.shakespeareonline.com/plays/macbeth/macbethchars.html> How is Macbeth a Tragic Hero? 2011, e notes 25/5/2014 <http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/how-macbeth-tragichero-3786>.
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