Sunday, September 1, 2019

How does Macbeth change between Act one scene three and act three scene one Essay

Shakespeare is definitely the most influential writer of all English literature and the author of many comedies, history plays, poems and tragedies. Shakespeare’s shortest and bloodiest tragedy was Macbeth. It is a dark tragedy that tells of ambition and guilt in a background of violence and supernatural. It has been described as â€Å"not Shakespeare’s most complex play, but †¦certainly one of his most powerful and emotionally intense†1. It tells the story of a man that changes from a noble warrior to a murderer and a cruel ‘abhorred tyrant’. In this essay I will analyse how Macbeth changes through the play and who is to blame for his changes. It is very important to state that Drama plays are usually created to be performed on stage and seldom created to be read. There is a great difference between reading a play and watching it performed; the performed play is performed the way the director and the actors themselves imagine the characters and the scenes. Hence we get a good idea of what characters are like. On the other hand, when reading a play, we have no description of the characters or places available and therefore we have to recreate the characters in our heads, only using the stage directions and the dialogue of the characters -the rest is up to our vivid imagination. The stage directions are a vital thing in understanding the characters, their emotions and of course in understanding the whole play. The opening of this play is very short but very meaningful-however the stage directions give us our fill of details: the place of the action, the mood and weather conditions and the characters that are present in this scene. Further understanding follows as we start reading the play. The weather in the first scene is hostile to men; the ‘fog and filthy air’ suggests unusual darkness but it also tells us a lot about the play as a whole. We understand that the play will be filled by lies, betrayal and unclearness. Additionally we meet the ‘weird sisters’ talking about a battle being ‘lost and won’. The quotations ‘ the battle is lost and won’ and ‘ Fair is foul and foul is fair’ chanted by the witches during Act 1 scene 1 are considered to be curious paradoxes since their words contradict themselves. Furthermore Macbeth’s personality will contradict itself during the play also as he starts off as a noble warrior and ends up as a cruel tyrant. This very first scene is on the whole a prologue of the evil present throughout the play, evil that is somehow connected to Macbeth from the very beginning. In the next scene we are give a lot of valuable knowledge about Macbeth, although he is not yet present on the scene. We learn that he was a ‘good and hardy soldier’, was called ‘brave’ by the captain and ‘valiant cousin, worthy gentleman’ by Duncan the king of Scotland. After hearing all this praise we expect Macbeth to be a noble warrior and a loyal subject to the king. However we are still knowledgeable that the three evil witches present in the first scene were somehow connected to Macbeth. The first time he meets the witches (Act I Scene 3) he is with Banquo who is amused by them. He asks them if they are really women since he exclaims that their ‘beards forbid me to interpret that you are so’. The witches hail Macbeth as thane of Glamis and as thane of Cawdor and finally they say that Macbeth is fated to be king of Scotland one day. Perturbed, frightened and amazed, Macbeth asks the witches for more information but they were now predicting Banquo’s future and declaring that he is somehow â€Å"lesser than Macbeth, and greater,† and â€Å"not so happy, yet much happier†. Then they state that he will never be king but that his children will rule Scotland. Macbeth tries to make the witches explain what they meant by calling him thane of Cawdor, but they disappear as quickly as they came leaving him in total confusion. The paradox appears once more since Banquo is clearly aware of the witches’ nature while Macbeth, only focused on their promises, forgets about the other, more important details; Banquo realizes that the witches are ‘ foul’ while Macbeth still believes the witches are ‘fair’ due to all the good they have predicted him. As an audience we can judge the witches better than Macbeth can. We know from act 1 scene 2 that Macbeth was going to be declared ‘thane of Cawdor’ because of his courage and not because of their evil magic. In act 1 scene 2 we find out that the thane of Cawdor was a villain that betrayed Duncan and therefore was executed. After his execution, noble Macbeth received this title, the title of a previous villain. This could be interpreted as a clue that Shakespeare is giving his audience that Macbeth might have the same fate as the previous Thane. It would be hard for an ambitious and noble soldier, such as Macbeth, to resist the temptation of killing Duncan, and becoming king himself, once he has such a high position. The witches appear to have washed Macbeth’s brain since soon after the meeting with them; Macbeth admits that he has some ‘horrible imaginings’ and he says the word ‘murder’ to himself. In only one scene Macbeth has already changed completely and already has in mind ‘black and deep desires’ -the killing of his king. This first change is due to the witches’ prophecy combined with his fierce ambition and we realize that the predictions please his hungry-for-power soul. Shakespeare emphasizes the terrible effects of ambition on his noble character, Macbeth. On the other hand, Macbeth remains an honest and loyal subject to his beloved wife. He sends her a letter explaining everything that happened. This is an important proof of loyalty and devotion to his subjects, weakened ever since he met the evil witches. Shakespeare presents Lady Macbeth as ruthless and evil, a woman who is ready to give away her soul in order to reach her goal. She prepared her mind for killing the king right after reading her husband’s letter and to help her do so, she calls evil spirits to dehumanize and defeminise her. She sees Macbeth’s kindness as a crucial weakness which might be the doom of their rise to the throne of Scotland. In act 1 scene 7 Macbeth is wrestling with his conscience because he admires and respects Duncan a lot and can not bring himself to kill him. He speaks in a soliloquy explaining the audience all the duties he owes Duncan: ‘ he’s here in double trust:/first, as I am his kinsman and his subject’ and ‘ as his host /who should against his murderer shut the door/ not bear the knife myself.’ But even if Macbeth was not a host and a kinsman, killing the king would still be an unforgivable sin and he admits that the only reason for committing this horrible murder, his ambition was now not enough . The imagery in his speech ( act I scene 7 lines 1-28) is dark. We hear of ‘bloody instructions,’ ‘deep damnation,’ and a ‘poisoned chalice’. This suggests that Macbeth is aware of the seriousness of his crime. At this point Macbeth has already won a victory over himself and is prepared to give up but his ruthless wife would not let him. She asks him ‘was the hope drunk/wherein you dress’d yourself? †¦and wakes it now to look so green and pale†¦Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ She’s shocked that he wants to give up and she asks him if his hope had a hangover. Lady Macbeth’s worst fears have come true and Macbeth can’t commit the terrible crime. She said in her first soliloquy that ‘I do fear thy nature, / it is too full o’th’milk of human kindness/ to catch the nearest way.’ She knows her husband very well and she is aware of his great ambitions but she also knows how honorable he is. She knows very well that he will not want to ‘ catch the nearest way’, murder. However she’s not prepared to give up! To persuade him she calls him a coward and declares that she would rather kill her own child than break a promise as he has done. Her main argument is that Macbeth has to prove his manhood in her eyes. Lady Macbeth does not bother to contemplate failure and Macbeth is encouraged by her enthusiasm. In this scene we can see that Macbeth was not a bad person. His only fault is that he lacks strength of character and lady Macbeth uses this fault to her advantage. After the murder of Duncan Macbeth is horrified but lady Macbeth is only worried about destroying the evidence. Here we can see the difference between the two people. Macbeth feels guilty but Lady Macbeth is proud of him! She shows her good side in this scene when she confesses that she could not kill Duncan herself because he reassembled ‘my father as he slept’. However we are terrified by her evilness when she says ‘a little water clears us of this deed’. This is the hardest time for Lady Macbeth and her husband because they have to pretend that they are shocked and hurt when Macduff finds the dead body of Duncan. Because of the stress Macbeth manages to awaken the suspicion of Banquo and Macduff. From act 1 scene 3, the first scene when we meet Macbeth, he has suffered some serious character mutations. In the first scene he is described as a noble warrior and he’s prized for his courage and loyalty to King Duncan. However by the end of act 3 scene 1 he has killed his king and is planning to kill his best friend and his son in order to have Scotland’s throne for himself. However there are causes for his changes. As far as I am concerned the witches are partially responsible because they fooled Macbeth with their prophecies. On the other hand they are not to blame for the fact that Macbeth believed in their predictions. Banquo was with Macbeth the first time he met the witches but he did not fall in their trap. Thus Macbeth’s ambition is mostly to blame for his change since had it not existed in the first place none of these terrible deeds would have happened. As I explained Lady Macbeth is also greatly responsible fro her husband’s actions. She is the one who persuaded him too kill the king when he was ready to give up. She made Macbeth want to prove himself a man in her eyes by killing the king and rising to the throne himself. Despite what he has done, Macbeth is a good man. He proves this before and after the murder of Duncan. After the murder he feels very guilty and realizes that he has committed a terrible crime. However Shakespeare shows us how Macbeth becomes hardened to his crimes and yet the guilt and fears bring him imaginings. Another proof that he feels guilty for his actions is at the end of act 3 scene 1 when he talks to the murderers. He tries to show them that he is a good king and he tries to make them think that Banquo is their enemy, in order to get the burden of the deaths off his own soul. In conclusion Macbeth has changed from a noble warrior to a murderer due to his ambition, his lack of character and of course the persuasion of his wife. The message Shakespeare tries to convey to his audience is that ambition is the doom of the Victorian and modern society, and will always manage to end lives of good and innocent people. The quotations ‘ the battle is lost and won’ and ‘ Fair is foul and foul is fair’ chanted by the witches during Act 1 scene 1 are considered to be paradoxes since their words contradict themselves; a concept that can be easily applied about the perception of Macbeth’s character and his actual personality during the play. During Act 1 scene 2 , he is described by the Captain and King Duncan to be a ‘ worthy gentleman’ and ‘valiant’- adjectives which lead the audience to believe that Macbeth is a loyal warrior and a very correct person; while in Act 1 scene 3 ( when he officially steps into the play) he proves to be easily manipulated and swayed by the prospect of power after the witches exclaim their prophecies and disappear. His erroneous judgment, which eventually leads to his downfall and the mutation in his personality, is further displayed since Banquo is clearly aware of the witches’ nature while Macbeth, only focused on their promises, looses focus over the other , more important details; banquo realizes that the witches are ‘ foul’ while Macbeth still mistakenly believes the witches are ‘fair’ due to all the good they have brought upon him.

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