Essay, Research Paper: Macbeth

Shakespeare: Macbeth

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Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is one of literature's greatest
tragedies. Shakespeare wrote the play in 1605 and based it on events that took
place in eleventh century Scotland. It is one of his best plays and is still
studied around the world. The play focuses on the character Macbeth. During the
course of the play, Macbeth changes from noble, to guilt-ridden, and finally to
evil. Macbeth shows his nobility in the early scenes of the play. After a fierce
battle, one of King Duncan's captains tells the king of Macbeth's great fighting
skill and valor in killing one of the king's enemies, Macdonwald (Act I, Scene
2, Lines 16-24). This shows Macbeth's bravery. Later, King Duncan states,
"What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won."(Act I, Scene 2, Line 67).
King Duncan is referring to the title, Thane of Cawdor, which he gives to
Macbeth as a result of the previous holder's treachery. Macbeth asks why he has
been dressed in borrowed robes (Act I, Scene 3, Lines 109-110). With that
statement, Macbeth shows that he does not desire another person's position.
Macbeth's guilt-ridden conscience begins to appear after his murder of Duncan.
Shortly after, Macbeth finds that he cannot say amen after one of the king's
guards cried, "God bless us!" (Act II, Scene 2, Lines 26-29). Macbeth
feels he has done an unforgivable crime and can no longer refer to God. Not much
later, Macbeth claims to have heard a voice cry, "Sleep no more!"(Act
II, Scene 2, Line 34). Macbeth's conscience will no longer allow him to sleep
peacefully. He later states, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this
blood clean from my hand? No…"(Act II, Scene 2, Lines 59-60). Macbeth
feels that nothing could clear his guilty conscience. In the latter stages of
the play, Macbeth becomes evil. Macbeth fells threatened by Banquo and employs
murderers to kill his former friend (Act III, Scene 1). Macbeth has become evil
enough to murder his best friend. Later, Macbeth murders again. This time, he
kills Macduff's family because he thinks Macduff is a traitor to him (Act IV,
Scene 2). Again, this shows his evil in that he murdered totally innocent
people. After learning of his wife's suicide, he emotionlessly states, "She
should have died hereafter," which means he felt her death was inevitable
(Act V, Scene 5, Line 17). This lack of feeling or sorrow for his dead wife
truly shows how evil has finally taken over Macbeth. Macbeth's character changes
from noble, to guilt-ridden, and finally to evil during the play. In the
beginning of the tragedy, Macbeth is a noble person. After killing Duncan,
Macbeth quickly becomes guilt-ridden. Macbeth's guilt finally turns to evil as
he murders and shows no remorse of his actions. This evil finally results in his
gruesome death.
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