What Reasons Are There To Sympathise With Macbeth?
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Macbeth is a play written by William Shakespeare in the early 17th century. It is about a man named Macbeth and the path his life takes. His ambitions and dreams eventually lead to his downfall. An audience can both sympathise and condemn Macbeth.
Macbeth – like so many other Shakespeare plays – is about a tragic hero. Macbeth at the start of the play is a good man. He fights for King Duncan with his best friend Banquo and kills many in his King’s name. In Act 1 scene ii King Duncan says, “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman,” referring to Macbeth after the Captain told him how bravely Macbeth fought in battle. This is a reason why we would sympathise with Macbeth.
Another reason to sympathise with Macbeth is that Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s wife – manipulates him into killing King Duncan. Macbeth does think about killing Duncan but he decides he can’t find the courage to kill someone. Lady Macbeth knows this as she says, “yet do I fear thy nature,/It is too full o’th’milk of human kindness…” which tells us she feels he can’t kill Duncan because it’s not in his nature to kill someone he is loyal to. She finally manages to persuade him by calling a coward and telling him he is weak and so to prove her wrong he kills Duncan. This to me seems like Lady Macbeth is the evil one, not Macbeth.
The Witches also play a large part in Macbeth’s life as it begins to unravel. Without their interference none of the events would take place. Their first prediction – the one which tells Macbeth he will become Thane of Cawdor and then King – is what starts off the chain of events. Macbeth feels that the prediction is a lie until he is told he had been made Thane of Cawdor. He begins to think of ways that he could become King, including killing Duncan. Later the Witches trick him into a false sense of security when they tell him, “none of women born/Shall harm Macbeth,” and, “Macbeth will never banquish’s be until/Great Birnam wood…” which Macbeth thinks means that no man can kill him and he will not be beaten in battle in his entire lifetime; they give him false hope. Macbeth believes that the Witches speak the whole truth to him and doesn’t suspect they are lying. Because of this we feel sorry for him.
Another reason to sympathise with Macbeth is because he does feel remorse and guilt. . When Macduff finds Macbeth he is considering whether to commit suicide. Macduff enters and Macbeth says, “…my soul is too much charg’d/With blood of thine already,” telling him his soul is burdened by the murder of his family. Macduff ignores him and they fight. Macbeth then tells him to stop because no man of woman born can kill him, trying to spare his life, before Macduff tells him he was born from a caesarean section. Even though Macbeth knows he was no chance of winning he fights anyway, showing he has courage and bravery still. Macbeth shows he is still an honourable man and maybe doesn’t deserve to die.
On the other hand Macbeth commits some horrendous crimes. He kills so many people – Duncan, Duncan’s servant, Banquo, Lady Macbeth and her children, Young Siward and more. Macbeth needs help and encouragement to kill Duncan, but the murders after this are all his doing, no-one elses. Killing is an inexcusable act which is enough reason, in my opinion, for him to be condemned.
The Witches are a huge influence on Macbeth but the only way they can influence him is touching his ambitions and desires. They manipulate him because he wants to be King. After the Witches have disappeared and Macbeth has been made Thane of Cawdor Macbeth says: “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,/Shakes so my single state of man that function/Is smother’d in surprise,” which basically means although being King is a fantasy it is all he can think about. He is weak minded and gives into his ambitions, which I think is awful considering what he later does.
While Macbeth rules, Scotland suffered. The Witches tell Macbeth he’ll be a good King but he isn’t. The people of Scotland are sad and angry with Macbeth: “each new morn,/New widows howl, new orphans cry.” He kills men, leaving their wives without husbands and kills parents, which orphans children. Macbeth before being King would never have stood by willingly while people were in pain. It’s obvious he has changed.
Finally, when Lady Macbeth dies Macbeth doesn’t feel upset or depressed like he should. If anything, he seems more annoyed at the timing. After he is told Macbeth says, “She should have died hereafter;/There would have been time for such a word…” which could have two meanings. It could mean that Macbeth thinks she will die sooner or later and that the event is inevitable, or it could mean Macbeth wants her to die later when he can grieve for her. Macbeth feels nothing when his own wife dies. He either pushes the pain away or didn’t feel anything in the first place. To e it sounds like he doesn’t feel anything for other people.
In conclusion, I feel Macbeth should be condemned but sympathised with also. The murders he carries out are inexcusable, but the only reason Macbeth carries out these murders is because the Witches use him for a little fun. Macbeth isn’t sad when Lady Macbeth dies but Lady Macbeth wouldn’t be sad at his death either. It isn’t Macbeth’s fault he has ambitions because everyone does, but he doesn’t have to let his desires get the better of him. Throughout the play Macbeth keeps his bravery, although sometimes it is not seen. He is brave at the start of the play – fighting for Duncan – and when he fights Macduff before his death. He knows both times that he could die but he fights anyway. To me, this shows that no matter how evil Macbeth becomes he is still good and honourable.