English- Macbeth

Macbeth- Act One- Macbeth’s conflicted state of mind Shakespeare uses the monosyllabic sentence, iambic metre and half rhyme to express the inner turmoil Macbeth is experiencing. The discordant rhetoric used by Macbeth highlights his agitated state of mind. It begins with the monosyllabic sentence ‘ if it were done…’ which emphasises the intense process of deliberation occurring within Macbeth. Shakespeare has put stress on the word ‘done’ with the use of iambic meter, in order to show how Macbeth desires results ie. King Duncan’s death without himself committing the regicide. Further, ‘surcease’ and ‘success’ are juxtaposed to bring out the half rhyme this portrays their interconnections, Macbeth craves Duncan’s death but cannot reconcile his thoughts with action as the half-rhyme produces a discordant tone. Here Shakespeare has brought Macbeth’s inner turmoil which may make him sympathetic towards the audience and thus fulfil the tragedy genre. Although he is contemplating regicide, the fact that he is struggling to commit, shows that he is not all evil.
Macbeth’s logic act one In addition, logic is something Macbeth attempts to assert during his soliloquy. This presents him as both tenacious and coldblooded. Macbeth lists the reasons why killing Duncan would be unnatural by highlighting his purity. He uses words such as ‘meek’ and ‘virtues’, semantic fields of benevolence in order to talk himself out of it. His state of mind, therefore, was shown as very rational but still volatile as he was unsure of himself prior. Shakespeare has made Macbeth’s mind oscillate from instability to rationality to highlight the dangerous nature of committing regicide. It dissolves your ability to remain morally and mentally stable. The words ‘deep damnation’ conveys the awareness that Macbeth has that murdering Duncan would be a mortal sin through the dental quality of the alliteration. Moreover, Shakespeare has also used a horse-riding extended metaphor such as ‘vaulting ambitions which o’erleaps itself’ to display Macbeth’s knowledge that ambition will lead to disaster. Despite this showing of his logical mind, the fact that he is aware of the duplicity of his soon to be crime, displays a more ruthless character because he is seriously considering regicide.
Macbeth struggle Finally, Shakespeare uses an antithetical structure to convey the motif of good and evil. He draws on this dichotomy to mirror Macbeth’s morally ambiguous state of mind. The string image of goof is portrayed by Duncan’s character, ‘a newborn babe” connotes innocence and vulnerability and is a metaphor for how pity from Duncan’s death, will cause ‘tears’ capable of drowning wind. This contrasts the evil act Macbeth will perform, however, it is euphimised to highlight his uncertainty. The soliloquy has had its tone set at the start through the word ‘it’, the use of the conditional tense underpins Macbeth’s apprehensive mind. Through this Shakespeare can represent Macbeth’s humanity- he is placed between the wholly evil witches and the wholly good God in order to express his compound nature. `this is only brought out when faced with an important moral decision, his mental deliberation is a symbol of the human struggle to remain pure in the face of temptation.
Macbeth- a hero? In Act 5, Macbeth demands ‘Bring me no more reports, let them fly all’, appearing unfazed by the threat of the English army. His bravery in the face of danger could serve as evidence doe his heroic nature; courage is a key attribute of a hero and its importance would have been amplified in the Elizabethan times; men were expected to be brace and it was an attractive quality to have; the audience is reminded of this near the beginning of the play when the Thanes talk highly of ‘brave Macbeth’ and his battle prowess. Alternatively, whilst Macbeth;s words make him seem brave, almost arrogance, Shakespeare contrasts this with structure to show that Macbeth may be more unsettled than he seems. The enjambment throughout the extract gives the impression of rambling, and suggests that perhaps Macbeth is more unsettled and panicked than he seemed at first. This idea of the structure betraying Macbeth’s true fear is epitomised when he states the lines ‘The mind…I bear/Shall never…shake with fear’. The lines are almost entirely in iambic pentameter, which fives them a certain rhythm. Therefore, the audience almost expects these two lines to be a rhyming couplet, as is used on occasion throughout the rest of the play, however the final words on each line, ‘bear’ and ‘fear’, whilst appearing like they should rhyme, do not when spoken aloud. Thus, Shakespeare contrasts Macbeth;s brace words with breaking of the rhyme scheme, perhaps reflecting a contrast between how Macbeth wishes to appear brave but does not actually feel this way. In this way, Shakespeare suggests Macbeth is no longer ‘brace’ and therefore is not a hero.
Macbeth- A villan Shakespeare, presents Macbeth as quite villainous in this extract. After a servant enters, Macbeth cries ‘The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!’ The insult occurs as the servant appears to have done nothing wrong, and so Macbeth is portrayed as malicious and irrational, certainly not heroic. Moreover, the use of the noun ‘devil’ creates a link between Macbeth and this symbol of complete evil. This would have been especially shocking for a god-fearing Elizabethan audience; by stating ‘The devil damn thee black’ Shakespeare presents Macbeth to almost have the devil at his command, which would have been a sure sign of evil for the superstitious Elizabethans and arguably still is today.
Macbeth- not a villain the whole way though- journey from hero to villan Macbeth is certainly not presented as a villain throughout the whole of the play; at the beginning, Shakespeare portrays him as quite heroic; referred to as ‘Valour’s minion’ and ‘brave Macbeth’. Whilst perhaps still brave, the contrast is clear between Macbeth at the beginning and him now; he has lost the primary attributes of a hero, goodness, and has instead become a sort of courageous villain. Therefore, it could be argues that Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a tragic hero instead. A tragic hero is one whose fortune appears to be increasing, until their fatal flaw undermines them and becomes their undoing. Macbeth’s hamartia could be his ambition; his one evil deed of killing Duncan to ascend to the throne sparks his evil spiralling out of control until this point in the novel, where he appears entirely wicked. This would explain Macbeth’s journey from hero to villian in such a short space of time; he brings about his own downfall.
Summary of Macbeth- hero or not a hero? In summary, whilst Shakespeare portrays Macbeth with some heroic qualities, as the play goes on he definitely appears more villainous than heroic. However, by showing Macbeth’s bravery near the end of the play, Shakespeare draws parallels between Macbeth in Act One Scene One and him near the end. By doing so contrasts his heroism and villainous qualities, showcasing his arc as a tragic hero instead and serving to have a cathartic effect on the audience: that your fortune can quickly reverse if you give in to evil.
Macbeth- his rule of Scotland- bleak Shakespeare presents a bleak and morose picture of Scotland under the rein of Macbeth. Describing it as a ‘grave’ where ‘good men’s lives/expire’ and the ‘dead man’s knell rings often’. Although not said explicitly, the use of words from the semantic field of death, suggests that Macbeth has killed more ‘good men’, and thus is a corrupt leader. This is echoed in the lack of detail about the dead: Macbeth has killed so many now that Shakespeare no longer uses the rich detail that he used to describe the murders of Duncan and Banquo, perhaps reflecting Macbeth’s lack of qualms about killing at this stage in the play.
Contributing to the sombre image, Shakespeare uses a plethora of caesuras to slow the pace of Ross’ speech and echo the misery of the day to day lives of those in Scotland. Ross remarks that Scotland ‘cannot be called our mother, but our grave’. The combination of the pause in the middle of the line and the enjambment amplify the effect of the oxymoronic juxtaposition of ‘mother’ and ‘grave’, two polar opposites- one which gives life and thus has a positive connotation, and one which is associated only with death. In this way, Shakespeare contrasts the ruling of Duncan with Macbeth’s rule now, adding to the image of a corrupt and amoral leader.
Lady Mac- journey of power over Macbeth Lady Macbeth is the ‘spur’ which provokes Macbeth in action. Despite being a woman in the Elizabethan era. Shakespeare shows her to be dominant and have power over macbeth, completely contrary to traditional male and female roles at the time. However, when Macbeth begins to act independently of her, and she no longer has power over him, we see an almost softer side to her, remarking that ‘naught’s had, all’s spent’. The audience sees in her character then, an almost undoing of her corruption, which seems to correlate with her losing her power over Macbeth, and thus is evidence for the statement ‘power corrupts’
Macbeth turning point Turning point when Macbeth kills Duncan as the audience sees his newfound power, Macbeth commits more and more evil deeds. Before the murder, her has a number of doubts about following it through, even completely changing his mind and stating ‘we will proceed no further in this business’. To contrast, afterwards Macbeth does not tell anyone of his intentions to kill the guards, and instead it is relayed to the audience in a single sentence.

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