The play ‘Macbeth’ is a portrait of one man, an ambitious, ruthless, disturbing individual.The play shows how he evolves as a person. Although we are presented with his declination from good to evil, we can see his human side throughout the play, which makes it a tragedy. The themes of ‘Macbeth’ are ambition, effects of evil, and violence. Once Macbeth’s ambition has set the ball rolling’, events happen quickly in the play as it gathers momentum. The themes are demonstrated mainly by the language of the play. As in Shakespeare’s time, plays were performed in daylight with very few props.
Ambition is something that everyone can identify with, and ‘Macbeth’ is an interesting study of how ambition can destroy you, so the audience is interested in Macbeth’s character. Our first impression of Macbeth is of a heroic, famous, popular man who is well liked by the King, Duncan. Duncan refers to Macbeth as noble Macbeth. Macbeth craves the title of king greatly, but realizes that he will have to commit some horrible crimes to get that position. Macbeth is tempted to follow through with the acts because of two sources of external evil – the witches and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth was already ambitious, but this was only heightened by the women as they made those desires appear as though they were achievable. This sets into motion the first of three great crimes. In Act one, scene three, Macbeth reveals that he is thinking of killing Duncan. Once the audience knows how the character thinks, they tend to sympathize with him, which is another reason why Macbeth is a tragedy.
Shakespeare was such a talented playwrite, that he tended to make the audience sympathize with not only the hero, but also the villain. The aside follows closely Macbeth’s desires and doubts – he does not know whether ‘this supernatural soliciting’ is good or bad, but he dearly wants to be king. He describes the murder that he is imagining to be horrible and ‘makes my seated heart knock at my ribs’, showing that the whole idea disgusts and horrifies him, as it would any man who was brave and noble, but Macbeth cannot stop thinking about it, showing that he is considering the idea and is drawn to it, and that he hasambitions to be king within him already. Macbeth is drawn to darkness, because he believes that it will hide his evil deeds. This is first shown when he says ‘stars hide your fires, let not light see my black and deep desires’.
Macbeth is afraid that people will realize that he wants to be king and is prepared to kill for it, so he calls on the stars to hide their light, so people cannot see what he is thinking. Macbeth finally decides to go through with the crime, and kills Duncan while he is visiting his castle. Lady Macbeth and her husband set up quite an elaborate plan, and it goes something like this. Lady Macbeth will give the kings guards’ copious amounts of alcohol. She also drugs them so they fall asleep and stay asleep. When everyone is asleep, Macbeth will sneak into the king’s chamber, steal the guards daggers, and brutally murder Duncan. The plan goes through almost flawlessly, except when he goes back to meet Lady Macbeth in his chamber, she notices that he forgot to plant the bloodied daggers back on the guards. She rushes back to Duncan’s chamber, and the lays the daggers on their unconscious bodies, making them look responsible for the king’s murder. When she hears knocking at the castle entrance, she returns and forces Macbeth back into their chamber, so they can both wash their hands and change their blooded clothing. This is the first of the three great crimes. Macbeth feels very guilty after committing this one, but as he continues, they seem to become easier and easier to commit.
The second great crime that Macbeth commits just shows that he has become a mindless killing machine. He thinks back to the witches predictions, and remembers that the predictions for Banquo’s future. Banquo’s future is filled with paradox. The witches profisize that he with be lesser, yet greater than Macbeth, not so happy, but happier, and he will not be king himself, but father a line of kings. Macbeth thinks this could be quite a problem in the not so distant future. He decides that he is going to solve this would-be problem right now. He hires two murders to assassinate both Banquo and his son Fleance. As the murderers wait in the early evening for Banquo and Fleance to pass by, the two murderers are joined by a third. The book suggests he has been dispatched by Macbeth who no longer trusts anyone. When Banquo and Fleance finally appear, carrying a torch, one murderer puts out the light, and the other two stab Banquo. In the darkness Fleance escapes to the Cries of “O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou mayest revenge. O slave!”. I think that this shows that he has become a mindless killing machine, because when you have the audacity to hire murderers to kill your best friend you have pretty much lost all human emotion. This has certain crime has made Macbeth more evil because now he realizes that he can get away with anything he wants, even if that includes killing his best friend. This crime eventually leads to Macbeth’s downfall and death, because Fleance escapes. Because Fleance escapes, the prophecy that says Banquo will not be king, but father them will most likely come true.
The third and final great crime that Macbeth commits is possibly the most inhumane. It involves the killing of not only Macduff’s servants, but also his wife and child. Macbeth is extremely angry at the fact that Macduff decided not to show up to his coronation. What makes Macbeth even more enraged is that he finds out not only did Macduff not attend his coronation, but he during this time he has gone to England to seek help from Edward the Confessor, and the late Duncan’s son, Malcolm. Macduff has gone to seek help because he wants to engage Macbeth in war. Once again Macbeth decides that he does not want to bloody his own hands anymore, so he hires two murderers to do the deed. Right before the murderers arrive, a messenger is sent to warn Lady Macduff of danger. There is some speculation that the messenger is sent by Lady Macbeth, because she was once friends with her, and perhaps feel that her husband has murdered too many people. Unfortunately for the Lady Macduff, her child and the servants, the messenger does not warn them with enough time to escape. The son of Macduff defends his fathers honor until the very last of his breaths, but there is stabbed. This last great crime only shows that Macbeth has completely gone off the deep end, and is killing women and children for rather stupid reasons. This crime eventually leads to Macbeth’s downfall and death because when Macduff hears the news about his wife and son, he decides that he will not have fulfilled his destiny until he kills Macbeth, and of course, in the end, Macbeth dies at the hand of Macduff.
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