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Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have on the “Rise and Fall of Macbeth”

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  • Word count: 2738
  • Category: Macbeth

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Macbeth is at the beginning a succesful general of the Scottish army and when he wins a battle for Scotland and king Duncan hears of it he holds Macbeth in the highest respect calling him a;

” Valiant cousin, Worthy gentlemen “

Macbeth is awarded the title ‘thane of Cawdor’ for his bravery. Macbeth hears he has gained this title when told by some witches before the kings servants have a chance to tell him. The witches also predict that he will be “king hereafter”. Macbeth consults his wife and she uses psychology to push Macbeth in to killing King Duncan. Macbeth does kill the King and this is when his downfall begins .

His good friend Banquo starts to be suspicious and Macbeth kills him without a second thought.

Later he sees Banquo’s ghost and he begins to go mad as so does Lady Macbeth and she commits suicide. Macbeth runs Scotland very badly and Duncan’s son Malcolm comes to claim his throne. With the help of the English army Macbeth’s castle is taken and Macbeth is killed by Macduff.

As you will see in my outline of the play Macbeth committed a number of crimes killing King Duncan, Killing Banquo and attempting to kill Fleance I will examine these crimes in more detail and try and come to a conclusion of why Macbeth committed these crimes.

The witches predict two things:- that Macbeth will become the thane of Cawdor, and that he will be king hereafter. They also predict two things for Banquo that he will be lesser than Macbeth, and greater also he shall get kings, though be none meaning that he will not become king but his children will. When Macbeth hears of the witches predictions that he will become thane of Cawdor, he is scared we know this by what Banquo says to Macbeth; ” Good Sir, why do you start, and seem to fear “

But after they have spoken more, he wishes them to stay and tell him how this can be true as he does not see how this is possible. They vanish in to the air and Macbeth says he “Would they had stay,d ? ” which means he wished they had stayed to find out what they meant .

When the kings servants arrive to tell Macbeth he has the title of Thane of Cawdor , Macbeth does not believe them when they explain though that the thane of Cawdor has been executed he is very happy he says;

” As happy prologues to the swelling act “

He then starts to discuss whether he will become King or not with Banquo.

When we first meet Lady Macbeth she has just read the letter from Macbeth which tells us of ” what greatness is promised “, that the witches have proclaimed him “King hereafter” Lady Macbeth tells us that she thinks Macbeth would be a bad King as his nature she said is ” too full o’ the milk of human kindness “

and that he has “ambition” but not the “illness” that makes a king. She puts him down in her soliloquy. Lady Macbeth decides that she will have to help Macbeth find the necessary determination. When a messenger tells Lady Macbeth that King Duncan intends on staying at their castle she gets excited and sees this as an opportunity to kill Duncan. She calls up the spirits of darkness and asks them to “unsex” her to take away all that makes her a woman. She asks to be made insensitive so that she may carry out her scheme, she wishes to be filled with “direst cruelty”. This shows that her character is strong she is sure that she can get Macbeth the crown she seems to welcome evil whereas Macbeth seems wary and even fears it. We have seen his reaction to the witches and their predictions.

In Macbeth’s soliloquy he tells us about his doubts and fears. He starts to question good and evil he seems to think if the witches are so bad hoe come they bring such good news. Macbeth cannot make up his mind whether to kill Duncan or not. He says that if the murder could be done quickly without the inevitable consequences then he should do it quickly. He lists the reasons why he should not kill the King. He is his ‘kinsman’, his ‘host’ and as he is Duncan’s subject Macbeth should therefore protect him. He tells himself that Duncan is good and kind and that killing him will provoke a tremendous out cry. Duncan’s goodness will “plead like angels, trumpeted-tongued “. If Macbeth murders him he will be condemned to ‘deep damnation’.

Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth that he will not murder Duncan he says that Duncan has given him “new honours” lately and that he wants to enjoy the “golden” opinion of everyone. He sees himself “dressed” in the good opinions of other people. He does not give her the reasons that he has just said in his soliloquy as he may think they make him look weak. This shows that he is afraid of his wife and knows if she knew the real reasons she would be able to persuade him otherwise.

Lady Macbeth calls him a coward and tells him how far she would go to get what she wants. She tells him that if like him she had sworn to do something, she would not go back on her word she would “pluck” her own baby from her nipple and “dash’d the brains out”

Lady Macbeth seems to have joined forces with evil. She has had a chance to make her husband king and is determined not to let it get away. She is forceful in her language and conjures up images of horror. She seems to have been granted her earlier wish to the evil spirits to ” fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty.

Before the murder Macbeth sees a vision of a dagger covered in blood with the handle pointing towards him. Macbeth speaks another soliloquy. He wonders whether the dagger is inviting him to do the murder. His mind is now full of dark thoughts. When Macbeth sees the dagger this shows us that he is going slightly mad even before the murder. He talks of things inviting him to do the murder. This shows us that he thinks everything is right about the murder and he should do it.

Their characters change after the murder although until now we have seen Lady Macbeth to be a very strong and determined woman, here she is very much on edge. Earlier she seemed able to do the most terrible of things now she explains that she could not murder Duncan as when he was asleep he reminded her of her father;

” Had he not resembled My father as he slept, I had done’t.”

This is the first time that we see she has a conscience and has some feelings of guilt about the murder.

When Macbeth comes back we see that he too has strong feelings of guilt he said he could not say “Amen” when someone said ” God bless us”. Lady Macbeth takes him in hand saying;

” Consider it no so deeply.”

This shows that she understands that if they think about it too much they will slip up and either be killed when being caught or kill themselves from going mad by guilt.

She aided Macbeth in the murder she “drugged the possets” of the grooms, she laid the daggers all ready. All Macbeth had to do the actual murder. When Macbeth brings back the daggers which should have been left at the scene she takes them back and smears the grooms with blood. When she returns she finds Macbeth transfixed with the thoughts of blood and guilt she tells him to go and wash the blood from his hands but Macbeth fears for his bloodstained soul.

Macbeth is now king and a short time has passed. Now Macbeth plans to murder Banquo and Fleance. Macbeth is afraid that the witches prediction for Banquo;

” Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none:”

He is afraid that this prediction will come true. Macbeth has changed in the sense that he does no longer ask his wife’s opinion and he no longer needs to be persuaded to murder someone. But it is not he that will attempt to murder Banquo and Fleance he will ask some murderers to do it for him you might wonder why he does not do it himself after all he is a great warrior who is used to killing perhaps the answer lies in his reaction to killing Duncan or it may be that he does not want the risk of being found out, he has to persuade them to kill Banquo and Fleance. His methods of persuasion are much like that of what Lady Macbeth uses when he questions their manhood. The murderers say they are men enough to do anything. Macbeth says that yes, the murderers are as they say “men”, just as many different qualities of dogs are lumped together as “dogs”. The men say they are men who are bitter and reckless that they care nothing for life.

Macbeth is at the height of his power but his fall begins as he has to deal with Banquo’s ghost at the feast. He fears Banquo’s ghost because it has come to accuse him of it’s murder. In a previous scene Macbeth was saying how lucky Duncan was because he was at peace in death. Macbeth had thought that the dead sleep well, but here they rise up again. So he worries that even in death there may be no peace for Macbeth. Lady Macbeth says all he needs is sleep, but this is ironic as Macbeth has ” murdered sleep ” and Banquo has risen from his ‘sleep’. Macbeth of course did not ask that Banquo ‘ fail not our feast !’ In a sense he summons Banquo’s ghost each time he sees a vision, he has just mentioned Banquo and how he misses his presence. Macbeth feels confided and trapped. His one great occasion in the play his banquet is ruined because he sees Banquo’s ghost.

Macbeth goes back to the witches and asks of the future. He hears this from the witches “masters” who take the form of apparitions. The first apparition is a head wearing armour. It knows Macbeth’s thoughts and tells him to beware of Macduff. The second apparition is that of a child covered in blood. It tells Macbeth that he cannot be killed by anyone ” born of a woman ” . Macbeth reacts by asking why need he fear of Macduff he is arrogant and feels invincible.

Macbeth has a vision it shows that he will have the crown only for a short time. He finds it painful to look at what the witches show him. He sees a row of Kings stretching out before him with Banquo smiling and pointing at them to show that they are his descendants. The effect upon Macbeth is that his despair deepens but he has a confidence in the words of the apparitions.

When Macbeth hears that Macduff has fled to England without hesitation he commands that Macduffs castle is attacked and everyone in it is killed. He is now ruthless and decisive. Murdering innocent he is a heartless killer.

Macduff tells Malcolm of how badly ruled Scotland is. He says every morning there is a new widow and a new orphan. He tells that their cries go up to heaven and the sky shows their sorrow. This shows Macbeth is really bad at ruling a country and lots of people are dying.

When we see Lady Macbeth sleep walking we have an insight in to her mental state and see she is in her own private hell of blood. She is very different now to when we first meet her.

This is not true of Macbeth because in this Act he becomes more like a decisive man of action as he was when we first met him. Macbeth although still a tyrant does regain some dignity in the way in which he dies as a fearless warrior. Lady Macbeth is pitiful when we compare them. We assume that she commits suicide and suicide is seen as the cowards way out. Because she is not suffering from a physical illness the Doctor cannot cure her. We feel sorry for her as she did not know what she was getting herself into. She was overcome her greed for her husbands success.

Macbeth is told that the English army is approaching his castle he tries to reassure himself that everything could still turn out all right but he knows that this is false hope. He admits that by his actions he has denied himself of all the good things that should come with old age such as love, honour and friends. He seems to know that the time has come. We feel sorry for him as he has false hope and can do nothing else to save himself, although it is pitiful that he still tries.

When Macbeth is told that Lady Macbeth has committed suicide he seems numb to the news, he seems to have no feeling for her by saying that she would have died at sometime or other anyway( ” She should have die hereafter ” ). Macbeth creates sympathy for himself by saying how his life seems pointless, ending only in ” dusty death “. He realises that all his efforts have been fruitless. Life is only a shadow, a fleeting thing. He says that life is meaningless as the sound and fury of an idiots tale.

Macbeth learns of Birnum wood he vows to fight on. Macbeth says that once he would have been frightened by a shriek in the night. This is a reminder of the owl-cry heard at Duncan’s murder. Macbeth says he cannot be frightened any more because he has seen so many horrors. At once he is startled by a cry. At the end of this scene Macbeth has stopped thinking about the future and now looks back, perhaps with regret, into his past and thinks about the way things could have been. Malcolm gives the final speech describing Macbeth as a “dead butcher” and Lady Macbeth as his “friend-like queen” calling them “cruel ministers”. I suppose that his description is true Macbeth is dead and he did kill (butcher) a lot of people, but as for Lady Macbeth being his friend, I don’t believe this to be true they seemed very distant and untrusting of each other. It is very different from the beginning of the play where Macbeth is described as “noble” among other good things.

I think that they are all to blame but they come in an order Macbeth being the least to blame and the witches being the most to blame which leaves Lady Macbeth in the middle. If the witches hadn’t of made predictions and suggested that he would become king then Lady Macbeth would never of pushed him in to killing the king. They predicted he would become king and if they had never of said that would he still of became king ? . I think if he would have become king it would not have been his doing. If the witches had never suggested it then he would never have done it. But Macbeth still went out and did it he was only Also I think if his wife hadn’t of been so persuasive then he never of done it. Basically it was fate that he would meet the witches and they would make such accusations and it would just so happen that the king would be coming to stay that night making the perfect opportunity for the killing. The great tragedy of the play is of the kind of men Macbeth could have been and almost was, but forgot the contradictions in his character and his fatal mistake of giving in to his ambition.

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