- Macbeth develops throughout the play
- Macbeth is a tragic hero with a tragic flaw
- Who is to blame for Macbeth’s downfall?
- Why do we feel sympathy with Macbeth?
Macbeth develops throughout the play
The protagonist of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the Scottish nobleman and warrior Macbeth. Throughout the play, he develops dramatically.
Macbeth’s qualities are highlighted in the beginning of the play
We hear of Macbeth before we first meet him, and it is all praise. In Act 1, Scene 2, a sergeant who has fought alongside him refers to him as “brave Macbeth” (1.2.18). King Duncan refers to him as “valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!” (1.2.26). Right from the start, we understand that Macbeth is a brave soldier, a nobleman, and the King’s relative.
When killing Macdonwald, the rebel leader, Macbeth “unseam’d him from the nave to the chops, / And fix’d his head upon [the] battlements.” (1.2.24-25). This suggests that brutally killing people is no problem for Macbeth, at least when it happens in battle.
However, as we read on, we see a more reflective side of Macbeth’s character. We finally meet him when he and Banquo encounter the witches. The very first words Macbeth speaks are: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” (1.3.39). This line tells us two things about him. First, these words echo the words of the three witches when we first met them: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” (1.1.12). This suggests that Macbeth may already be influenced by their evil power...