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Character Change Analysis from Good to Evil Through the Macbeth

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In life, every action an individual makes, makes them who they are. Capacity for self sacrifice is an interest or concern that occupies a large part of someone’s time and effort. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth places himself in life-changing situations due to his actions he committed based off his hunger for power. He chooses to go out of his way and go against his beliefs and friendships in order to obtain his desires. Shakespeare portrays through the character Macbeth that one’s actions caused by their capacity for self sacrifice may lead them to unexpected conflicts.

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Every individual’s average life is filled with conflicts. The initial stages of Macbeth’s conflicts begun with the disloyalty of his partner and friend, Banquo. Through the character Macbeth, Shakespeare demonstrates how an individual may turn one’s back on an important friendship in order to reach their own personal wants and needs. In the early stages of the play, Macbeth and Banquo fought wars together; they were generals of the king’s army. This was proven when the two had worked together to defeat the Norwegian army. In the first few pages of the play, the two were granted prophecies from three witches. Otherwise known as ‘the weird sisters’. Macbeth’s predictions were that he would earn the title of Thane of Glamis, then to be Thane of Cawdor, followed by becoming the King of Scotland. Banquo was told by each different witch that he would be “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater”, “Not so happy, yet much happier”, and that “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” After the victory in the battle against Norway, Duncan, the King of Scotland, recognized Macbeth’s strength and how much he had helped in the success, so he granted him with being Thane of Cawdor. Since he was previously Thane of Glamis, and he had just received his new title, he realized that maybe the weird sisters’ prophecies were coming true, but Banquo believed that if they were to be true, they would happen on their own without any force upon it. Macbeth’s beliefs of the prophecies strengthened his passion for the last prediction to be true; to become king. Macbeth is eager to become king, and obtain all the power. However, he reminds himself that he would not be able to become king with Duncan already being the man in power. Through the lines “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well, it were done quickly. If the assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch with his surcease success: that but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all”, Macbeth is debating whether or not he should follow through with the murder of King Duncan. He reveals that he would feel extremely guilty, in the case that King Duncan has been nothing but wonderful towards Macbeth, and that Duncan would not deserve death as a reward for being a good ruler of their country. However, when Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth into completing the murder by telling him to “be a man”, he does as his lady wishes. Macbeth demonstrates to be extremely unfaithful to the king by committing this regicide for no reason but for his own satisfaction. By killing Duncan, and Macbeth’s new title Duncan had given him, he knew that he would be the replacement king to honour his country. This proves Macbeth to be very selfish, as the only thing he had against Duncan was that he was in a position that Macbeth had always dreamt to be. This caused the death of a very loyal man, and abandoned a friendship that was shared between the two men. After the death of King Duncan, there had been suspicions of who committed the crime. “Thou hast it now- King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, as the Weird Women promised; and I fear thou play’dst most foully for’t.” This quote stated by Banquo furthers the idea that he had a thought in his mind that Macbeth killed the king; which so happened to be true. Banquo was present in the time being while the two received their prophecies, and once Macbeth had earned his new title, Banquo was well aware that Macbeth was assuming the predictions were becoming true. This is what triggered Banquo’s suspicions. Macbeth knew that if he wanted to keep the truth behind the regicide a secret, Banquo had to die before the truth came out. Macbeth hired murderers to stalk and kill Banquo. This once again furthers the fact that Macbeth’s actions were selfish and he didn’t care about the outcome of anyone else’s life. Macbeth was willing to kill and to fight his confidante and ruin many faithful and loyal relationships. Macbeth’s ambition acted upon a series of disloyalty and betrayal, which eventually corrupted his reputation, and his life. Macbeth’s capacity for self sacrifice is clearly driven through the roof.

Prior to reaching an outcome, one must act upon the actions they portray. Feeling guilt of an act is the fact of having committed a specified offense or crime. Macbeth implies this feeling after he acts upon unnecessary deeds. Through the characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare depicts how the thought of certain actions may seem like a good idea, but soon after they are implied, they may portray as a trait of guilt. In the mid stages of the play, Macbeth releases a sense of sympathy and guilt towards the actions he committed. The guilt revealed from Macbeth and his lady commenced right after the regicide of King Duncan. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.” This suggests that Macbeth believes there is not enough water in the ocean to clean the blood from his hands. This exemplifies Shakespeare techniques as he uses blood as a metaphor for guilt. Macbeth becomes paranoid that the people of Scotland are becoming suspicious of his horrified act, and he explains how when he prays, he is physically not able to say “amen” as he is in complete remorse. Furthermore, Lady Macbeth was the reason behind the murder of Duncan. When she had heard the news of Macbeth and the Thane of Cawdor, she became more power hungry than he did, being the most eager for Duncan’s death. She controlled Macbeth’s mind until he finally killed the king, as it was to her, the best idea for the couple. Soon after, the lady, like Macbeth, did become guilty. Not only because she was the reason for it, but Lady Macbeth was guilty for framing the guards of the king’s murder as she smeared the dagger of blood over their clothes. As one of the most popular scenes in the play, Lady Macbeth’s nightmare showed all the remorse she was feeling. She yelled to her hands “Come out, damned spot!” and questioned if they would “ne’er be clean?” The lady visions Duncan’s invisible blood on her hands, and begs for it to wash off, once again using the metaphor of the blood. “The time had been that, when the brains were out, the man would die, and there an end. But now they rise again with twenty mortal murders.” Macbeth quotes this shortly after Banquo’s ghost interrupts at the banquet table and makes Macbeth go mad.The quote utterly describes how in the past, killing people used to be so much simpler and easier. This depicts how for he and Lady Macbeth, killing Duncan would have been much less complex than it were. This furthers the feeling of their guilt by proving that if it had been years before, they wouldn’t have had to kill Banquo, and this guilt wouldn’t have been such an issue. This section of the play recounts how unnecessary actions lead to remorse, nightmares, unwanted visions, and paranoia.

Every series of reactions to a conflict must result in an outcome. A tragic hero is a literary character who makes a judgement error that inevitably leads to his or her destruction. Due to his actions, Macbeth proved to become the tragic hero of the play. Shakespeare exemplifies through the character Macbeth how through the course of a literature piece, a character change analysis from good to evil, resulting in their own individual destruction. “Conduct me to mine host: we love him highly and shall continue our graces towards him” This quote said by Duncan, in the early stages of the play shows his love and trust for Macbeth. He calls him his ‘host’, and shows how respectful he is to invite someone in his home. Coming from the king of the country greatly proves how much of a man Macbeth was and that he was respected immensely. However, later on in the play, Macbeth’s character changed. ‘The castle of Macduff I will surprise. Seize upon Fife, give to the edge o’ the sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line.’ In the late stages of the play, Macbeth plans to kill nobleman of Scotland, Macduff’s family in order to protect his crown; he did not want anyone in Macduff’s family to take it from him. These excerpts portray how much of a character change Macbeth went through during the play, going from good, loyal, and innocent, into evil, selfish, and a murderer. As Macbeth was blood and power thirsty, he was on the loose, killing many. As he did so, his reputation became worse and worse. After Macbeth killed Macduff’s family, Duncan’s son, Malcolm, revealed a plan to the nobleman; “Let’s make us medicines of our great revenge, to cure this deadly grief.” This proves how noblemen did not appreciate the way Macbeth was running things in Scotland, and how a numerous amount of them wanted Macbeth dead. Macbeth’s ambition became very out of control, which eventually caused him his life. Eventually, Macbeth’s ambition and passion for power became too much of an obsession, causing too much grief for himself and the rest of Scotland. As revenge for his deeds, Macduff slayed the king as a vengeance for all the wrong he had done. Macbeth had lost all touch with moralistic values and rational thoughts. However, this overflow of ambition was too much for the country, which led to Macbeth being the tragic hero of the play.

Macbeth was initially a loyal nobleman who was loved by many. Throughout the play, ambition became Macbeth’s new obsession, resulting in the death of many innocent people. This is when Macbeth’s respect was lost by many in the country. He was extremely paranoid and fearful of losing his crown and did anything he could to protect it, which is what resulted in his death. Shakespeare has proven through the character Macbeth how one’s capacity for self sacrifice to succeed can influence the decisions they make, resulting in their own destruction that they may had never anticipated.     

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