Macbeth Characters

For brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name),Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,Which smoked with bloody execution, Act 1.2The Captain is speaking to Duncan.The Captain is describing how impressive and brutal Macbeth was in the battle against Norway. Here his bloody and murderous ways are celebrated as they have helped bring success in the battle. The fact that he is ‘Disdaining fortune’ foreshadows how he ignores the signs of his defeat in Act 5 of the play, suggesting that Macbeth’s character is strong and cannot be swayed easily. The fact that his sword ‘smoked with bloody execution’ could be a metaphor to emphasise how the Captain was in awe of Macbeth’s fighting skills; he fought so well and so fast his sword ‘smoked’. Alternatively, the Captain could be describing the atmosphere where the cold air met with the warm blood from wounds in bodies. This also foreshadows/contextualises Macbeth as a killer for the rest of the play.
Come, you spiritsThat tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,And fill me from the crown to the toe top-fullOf direst cruelty! Act 1. 5Lady Macbeth is on her own and has just read Macbeth’s letter outlining the witches prophesies. She worries that he is not ambitious enough to kill Duncan so she asks the ‘spirits’ to make her less feminine. The spirits here will remind the audience of the witches, immediately positioning Lady Macbeth as evil. She rejects her femininity when she commands them to ‘unsex me here’ as she doesn’t want to be gentle, soft, sweet-tempered-qualities stereotypically associated with her sex. Instead she wants to be brutal and cruel in order to take control of Macbeth and persuade him to murder Duncan.
“How now, you secret, black and midnight hags?” Act 4.1 – Emily KnightIn this scene Shakespeare presents that character of Macbeth to be arrogant, this is displayed from the use of the phrase ‘midnight hags’. This shows how Macbeth believes he is in power and how he thinks he is dominant over the witches because he is being threatening towards the witches. This is contrasting to Act 1 Scene 1 where Macbeth did not trust the witched and the prophesies they made; in Act 4 Scene 1 Macbeth is now demanding he wants to know these prophesies. The audience would react to this because they would be concerned that the witches will do something to Macbeth because of his arrogance; Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to show this because the audience know that the witches later on in the play trick him and this could be a result of Macbeth acting rudely towards the witches. Also, Shakespeare demonstrates the arrogance of Macbeth through the use of structure, the use of commas and pause in this quote create an iambic pentameter.
“look not like the inhabitants of the earth,/And yet are on it””Should be women,””lesser….and greater,” “not so happy….much happier,” “get kings…be none” Act 1 Scene 3 – Akosua and TiannaMacbeth’s first words (So foul and fair a day I have not seen”) ironically recall the witches “foul is fair” in scene 1, but Banquo is the first to spot the weird sisters, remarking on the witches ambiguous and confused appearance: they “look not like the inhabitants of the ear, /and yet are on it”; they seem to understand him and yet he cannot be sure; they “should be women” and yet they are bearded. Consequently, Banquo is way because during Shakespeare’s time this would have been seen as not conforming to their gender.The witches’ answer to him is more puzzling “lesser…and greater,” “not so happy… much happier” “get none”. This confuses Banquo as it contrasts between what is certain and uncertain, or between what is confused and what is ordered or ordained by fate, is one of the crucial structural components in the writing of this play, and it is clear that Shakespeare wants us to see it. Noteworthy, what is vital in this scene, is the way in which Shakespeare registers the psychological response of both Macbeth and Banquo – the questions “whiter…?”, “were…?” “have we…?” and so on paint a picture of shared incomprehension to the audience. Shakespeare cleverly combines Macbeths and Banquo’s confusion at the Witches’ vanishing with their disbelief at what has been spoken. The reference to “the insane root that takes the reason prisoner” suggest the working of a powerful drug, and the clear impression is that they feel they have been dreaming. Banquo warms Macbeth of the witches and urges him that they are not to be trusted, Shakespeare subconsciously draws attention to Banquo’s loyal character and Macbeth’s as duplicitous.
‘Out damn Spot’ Lady Macbeth Act 5.1We can see that in act 5 scene 1, Lady Macbeth is troubled by the guilt of her tolls and is sleep walking from the experience she has been through. The doctor is keen to follow her articulate activity. Her mental instability and paranoia hallucinations are caused by her actions. We can see that “out damned spot” is an appearance f the blood motif, an on -going analogy of guilt throughout the novel. The blood is a stark contrast to the purity of white which is represented through milk in earlier scenes. The washing of the guilt from her hands is a representation of the blood she has shed previously. Shakespeare uses this expression to compare the guilt of her actions to a human action.
Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair Act 1.1 – Isabel TankoFair is foul and foul is fair – this is the witches speaking in unison about how things may not be as they seem. This represents how the witches manipulate and twist this to their will. As well as foreshadowing the Drastic Change in Macbeths character later in the play showing he may not have been what he Seemed. It is also the first words uttered by Macbeth in the play which shows his connection to the line.
“too full of the milk of human kindness””unsex me here” In Act 1, Scene 5 Lady Macbeth is represented as an over-ambitious and dominating woman. She obviously sees her husband as incompetent and the weaker half of the couple as she thinks he “is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” to kill King Duncan. She also asks the spirits to “unsex [her] here” which would shock the audience at the time as her behaviour is a striking contrast to the stereotype of women are supposed to be like. These actions make her comparative to the witches, perhaps foreshadowing her fate at the end of the play where she loses her mind to guilt.

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