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Macbeth: Characters in the First Three Acts

Uploaded by eye_kandi on Aug 29, 2000

Compare and contrast the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the first three Acts of Macbeth.


Macbeth, the tragedy, is a penetrating, concentrated, and harrowing study of ambition. The play itself tells the story of a man, urged by his wife and foretold by prophecy, who commits regicide in order to gain power. His ostentatious appetite for domination only leads to his triumphal downfall deeming he and his wife naught but the, “dead butcher and his fiend like queen.” However, the final analogy is a product of circumstantial change made evident in the first three acts.

Macbeth is a basically good man who is troubled by his conscience and loyalty though at the same time ambitious and murderous. He is led to evil initially by the witches' prophecies, and then by his wife's provocation, which he succumbs to because of the unrequited love he has for her. In retrospect, Lady Macbeth, whilst appearing patronising and manipulative, is in essence, a good wife who loves her husband. She is also ambitious but lacks the morals and integrity her husband posesses. To achieve her ambition, she rids of herself of any kindness that might stand in the way. However, she runs out of energy to supress her conscience and commits suicide.

A foundation reputation for Macbeth is fashioned before he comes on to the stage. The Sergeant who has fought on his side harps about Macbeth’s valour in war, “But all’s too weak | For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name”(Act I, scene II). We then hear from Ross, who consistently speaks of Macbeth’s courage in battle, “The Thane of Cawdor, began a dismal conflict | …Point against point, rebellious arm ‘gainst arm | Curbing his lavish spirit: and to conclude | The victory fell on us - ”(Act I, scene II). These accounts imply a mighty, patriotic warrior and a loyal subject to the King. As the plot thickens, Macbeth falls short of these expectations, as a cloud of suspicion hangs over his conspicuous relationships with the Three witches. The suspicion grows when he (aside) confesses his “black and deep desires”(Act I, scene IV). Macbeth knows in order to obtain the throne he must kill Duncan yet acutely acknowledges the duty he owes to Duncan. He knows to kill Duncan would ultimately be an enormous sin, a crime against heaven and therefore Macbeth is restrained. “He’s here in double trust |...

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Uploaded by:   eye_kandi

Date:   08/29/2000

Category:   Macbeth

Length:   5 pages (1,070 words)

Views:   1233

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