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Good And Bad Characters In Macbeth

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Macbeth Reader’s Response

In the play Macbeth, the main character Macbeth is questioned for being “a real man” many times by his wife, Lady Macbeth. She questions his masculinity many times throughout the book, often for not obeying one of her orders. Through the work of Macbeth, we can see what a “good man” was culturally expected to do. According to the story of Macbeth, the qualities of a good man include being caring about your wife, to love your country, and to display self control.

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Lady Macbeth had most of the authority in the Macbeth household. She was an evil person who influenced Macbeth to commit murders. In this circumstance, we can see that the wife in the story is a psychopath. However, the fact that he does what she wants him to do shows that he cares for her and holds her in high regard. The thought of being a man in the eyes of Lady Macbeth is obviously very important to him, so when Lady Macbeth is trying to convince him to kill Duncan and become king, he is very doubtful. We can see this by when he says, “We will proceed no further in this business. He hath honored me of late…” In response to this, Lady Macbeth strategically attacks the one thing that he seems to care about most by saying in page 43, “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” Once Lady Macbeth says this, Macbeth goes on with the murder of Duncan to assume kingmanship. Without the persuading of Lady Macbeth and the challenging of him being a man, Macbeth probably would not have gone through with the murders. However, we can see that he cares about his wife and wants her to be happy with him. While the act that he did is conceivably evil, we see the values of a good man in this passage is caring about your wife, no matter how crazy she may be.

In the story of Macbeth, a good man cares for his country. Macduff, who eventually kills Macbeth and is considered the hero of the book, displayed a great love for his country. For example, in Act 4 Scene 3, Macduff finds Malcolm at the English court and tries to convince him to attack Macbeth right away. Malcolm suspects Macduff of being an agent of Macbeth sent to persuade Malcolm to destruction in Scotland. To test his theory, Malcolm acts as a bad King, one arguably worse than Macbeth. Macduff cares too much for his country to let this happen, so he exclaims in page 141, “Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure.” Once Malcolm realizes that Macduff is trustworthy, he lays out his plan for stopping Macbeth, and Macduff’s anger is only fueled more when he finds out that Macbeth killed his family. Macduff did a good deed in killing Macbeth, and much of this was fueled by a great passion for their country, something a good man has as one of their traits in the Macbeth.

In the story Macbeth, self control is very important to be a good man. We see Macbeth’s attitude completely change throughout the book. When we are introduced to him in Act 1 Scene 3, he is a valiant hero who got back from battle to be a Thane. However, once Lady Macbeth uses her manipulative powers to kill Duncan, his attitude goes from fearful of committing murder to bloodthirsty. He soon seems to escalate from just one murder to basically killing anyone who looked at him the wrong way. This shows an immediate lack of self control. It got so bad to the point that even Lady Macbeth, the mastermind behind the murder of Duncan, shows immediate regret for what Macbeth has become. She realizes the monster that Macbeth is is a product of her own selfish and devious desires. She regrets the team of murderers they turned into, and most of all she regrets the murder that started Macbeth’s loss of self control. On page 163, Lady Macbeth sees blood spots on her hand. Sher exclaims, “Out, damned spot, out I say!”These blood spots represent the blood of Duncan that was shed when Macbeth killed him. While this is not the best point for proving how Macbeth has lost self control, it is important because even the evil mind of Lady Macbeth sees the evil that she did and how it changed Macbeth. I also believe that she would not have this regret if Macbeth only killed Duncan. Another example of how he lost self control is when he hears that his wife died. On page 177, when he hears of the death, he says, “She should have died hereafter.”The control over his emotions and actions are obviously gone. He is more of a ravenous animal then a person, and this quote helps prove that. The death of a woman that he loved so much that he would commit a murder for suddenly means nothing to him. Macbeth does not display being a good man during this time by losing control of himself.

Macbeth is an extremely interesting book because while it is plastered with examples of bad men, we can see qualities in some of these characters that reflect what an example of a good man would be during this time. We see that obeying your wife is a good quality for a man to have, and this point is proven in a twisted way in Macbeth. Having pride in your country is also a very good quality to have, and we see this by the way Macduff cares too much for his country to let a tyrant like Macbeth do something to ruin it. Lastly, self control is a good quality to have during the time the play was written, and that obviously also pertains to modern day. While Macbeth is the villain in this story, we can see some qualities in a good man both by what he does and does not do. We saw his compassion for his wife vividly in the beginning of the story, that is why he committed the murder. We as well see his devilish lack of self control as he turns into a bloodthirsty monster.

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