Explain How Shakespeare Reveals The Transformation In Macbeth Fro

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  • Grade: 100
Explain how Shakespeare reveals the transformation in Macbeth from hero to murderer by the early part of the play. How far is Macbeth responsible for his decline?

The first time the audiences hear of Macbeth's character is from a wounded Captain on the battlefield. Instead of the audience witnessing his bravery they hear about it from a " Loyal and trusted Captain". This adds the effect that Macbeth truly is a hero, because he himself is not in person to tell about his victory, the audience won't be cynical and presume that he may just be bragging. The fact that the Captain is also described as loyal and trusting also adds to the effect that what he reports about Macbeth must be correct information, this allows the audience to believe the Captain's report to be truthful and accurate.
Macbeth's battle against Macdonald is said to have good fortune and good luck, Macdonald is also depicted as being merciless and a rebel. One of the first mentions of Macbeth is when he is described as brave. Macbeth is depicted as not being afraid or uneasy about Macdonald's severe luck, but although Macbeth is aware of these things, he does not give up and instead strives for success on the battlefield. Through the Captain's report the audience becomes fully aware of the situation not being on Macbeth's side, but as the report goes on to explain just how brave Macbeth is, even under pressure and even when all the luck and fortune is shining on the other side. As the report continues, we continue hearing about how Macbeth is not afraid and undaunted by the situation. Macbeth is described as " Valovic Minion" because he works fast and well. By the end of the Captain's speech we have learned of a reliable and trusted source that Macbeth has proceeded undaunted and unafraid to receive victory on the battlefield, showing not only bravery but courage as well.
        By the end of act two Macbeth's character has not only changed from being brave to being cowardly, but also from being a hero to a murderer. Macbeth's meeting with the witches arose a sense of ambition within him, and also a hunger for power. Macbeth discards all the moral boundaries that would lead to implications of taking the throne by murder. Although Macbeth needs some encouragement from his wife before he becomes a murderer he does follow his feelings of greed for power and the throne. We can also witness in his subconscious his true feelings about the deed. When the hallucinated dagger appears before Macbeth we see which path his chooses to take, and so commences the murder of Duncan and the transformation from the hero who no longer protects his king to the man who instead murders him to take his crown.

Macbeth's bravery on the battlefield is truly rewarded. We hear the tale from a Captain who is "loyal and trusted" from this we can except that the captains account is an accurate one. The Captain reports that even though Macdonald had strong forces Macbeth personally killed him. The Captain does not reveal this straight away though, he makes a speech about how Duncan's side and Macdonald's side clung together and how they " Choke their art" meaning it was hard to tell whom would become victorious in the battle. The Captain describes Macdonald as being a rebel and he also tells that fortune and luck were with him. This description gives the assumption that Macbeth would be struggling to win the battle. The Captain then continues to explain how Macbeth disdained fortune and fought his way through the troops to reach Macdonald. Describing in detail the way his sword had steam rising off it, because of the speed at which he had killed the men and the amount of blood he had on his sword. This helps portray Macbeth, almost unaware of the danger he is facing, he continues to cut himself through Macdonald's troops. After we have heard how Macbeth easily killed many soldiers with utmost ease, we come to the finale of his bravery. The Captains tells of how Macbeth strode up to Macdonald and without a word he " unseamed him from the nave th'chaps". Duncan takes great pleasure to this, and so this tale is the first we hear of Macbeth and his bravery. In which we can see that he is undaunted and almost oblivious to the danger, but remains noble and loyal and a man of great morals, Duncan his King also regards him this way as he proclaims
"Valiant cousin, worthy gentleman".
We then learn from the Captain of the Norwegian Lord's assault. Macbeth this time fighting along Banquo, continue to fight undaunted and with a great sense of victory.
Duncan rewards Macbeth with Sweno's title Thane of Cawdor, which he puts as
" What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won,"
In the Captain's speech about Macbeth and his undaunted bravery, we can see that Macbeth is a man of great honour who fights against the odds for his King, and in turn ending in triumph. Macbeth is highly regarded by his fellow comrades and his King and is rewarded for his great victory highly. Remaining an inspirational leader by remaining optimistic even in the face of an enemy who is portrayed of having severe luck and fortune, Macbeth is described as "Valour's minion," continuing with his fight with speed and stamina. Macbeth is seen as a natural fighter physical strong.
Macbeth's meeting with the witches, is surrounded by the stereotypical view portrayed from a Jacobean audience. Who at that time would have believed witches to be creatures who were in association with the devil. Shakespeare plays up to these superstitions by creating the scene, he does this by introducing violent weather, thunder. The witches' entrance allows Shakespeare to establish that they are creatures who are cruel and selfish and who show no mercy, he uses a short tale about a sailor's wife who would not share her chestnuts, and so in turn the witch kept her husband, a sailor at bay in a storm. This short prose tells the audience of their demonic nature.
Macbeth also should have known that witches were in league with the devil and we also creatures which should not be conversed with. Macbeth however ignores the general rules about the danger and malice witches' carry with them and instead proceeded with his own curiosity to discover what the creatures wanted. Indulged by his own curiosity Macbeth finds himself asking the witches to speak. The witches reply with their prediction of Macbeth's future.
" All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis,"
" All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor,"
" All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter,"
Macbeth's reactions towards the witches after their predictions are again ones of indulgence, curiosity and greed. Macbeth wants to find out more about the witches' prophecies, he indulges in ambition after hearing their predictions and is greedy not only to learn more about his good fortune but also for the three titles, in particular the Kingship. Macbeth does not voice these opinions until after Banquo's has asked about his own future, but does comment on how Macbeth seems "Rapt" or in other words spellbound. After Banquo has received knowledge of his own future Macbeth almost in a greed obsessed panic begs the witches' to stay and tell him more about the three titles. Macbeth begins to analyse the three titles, accepting that he knows he is Thane of Glamis but questioning how he can be Thane of Cawdor when the Thane of Cawdor still lives. Although Macbeth is unaware of the Thane's death the audience are fully aware of Macbeth's new title which gives an edge to the play, as they watch the character react to the witches' and their predictions. Refusing to answer Macbeth's questions the witches' vanish leaving Macbeth and Banquo to question weather the ordeal really happened or if they had just been hallucinating.
Macbeth's reactions to becoming the Thane of Cawdor are to question it. Macbeth obsesses about how the Thane of Cawdor is still alive. This could be the first time we see the flaw of greed in Macbeth's character, by questioning that the Thane of Cawdor still lives, the audience may get the sense that Macbeth would be willing to end his life to gain his title.
In the play, the witches' signify evil in one of its darkest forms. Although Shakespeare could have intended the witches just to be an evil personified, in effect a human form of evil, which the audience could visualise with ease as characters. Shakespeare has created three more characters that interact with themselves and others. By using a personified evil this allows Shakespeare to play up to the Jacobean audiences' view of witches and their superstitions surrounding them, it also gives a great dramatic sense to the play allowing Macbeth to interact with evil on stage.
Banquo's reactions are an opposite of how Macbeth reacts to the news that he is to be King. Banquo questions weather or not the witches' were actually present and weather the event had actually happened. Macbeth believes in the witches and continues to indulge as he asks them about his future. This is important in an assessment to Macbeth's character because it shows him to become obsessed by the predictions of creatures that are evil, Banquo on the other hand refuses to delve deeper into the matter and questions their very existence.
The audience's view of Macbeth has changed by now, it has not changed to him being a murderer, because he has not shown any implications of becoming one yet. The audience will now view Macbeth differently because of how he acted with the witches'. Instead of leaving them alone he asked them to speak, this shows a type of bravery that he is not afraid to delve into matters of evil, and also that he was not afraid to ask questions about his future. Macbeth will also be viewed of having a great sense of curiosity to his character.

At Duncan's palace in Forres we are introduced into the scene by the execution of the Thane of Cawdor. Duncan goes on to explain how looks can be deceiving such as those of the Thane of Cawdor. Duncan explains that you cannot trust outward appearances as such as that of the Thane.
This builds up dramatic tension and suspense, with Macbeth's entrance at this point, because he too is becoming deceptive towards the king. Macbeth has now begun to disguise his outward appearance and reactions, while in his mind he is planning how he will become king, and the way in which he plans this event, may not be one filled with morals.


Macbeth finds out that he is to become the new Thane of Cawdor in this scene which means two of the witches' predictions have become true leaving the largest one till last, the title of King. The scene also creates added dramatic tension and suspense as Duncan praises the Macbeth and Banquo and then goes on to announce whom the heir to his throne will be. Duncan announces that their eldest son Malcolm will be the heir to the throne leaving Macbeth a little more than unpleased.
At this point, the audience is let in on how Macbeth acts superficially on the surface towards Malcolm and the King as they announce that Malcolm will be the one to succeed. And also secretly as he turns away from the other characters on stage to share his feelings out loud with the audience.
Towards the King and Malcolm he calmly praises Malcolm on becoming the heir, playing on the audience's conscience and acts pleased. To himself and the audience however he secretly explains that he is not pleased and how this tampers with Macbeth's plan to become king. Macbeth is clearly appalled when he talks to himself and broods ominously.
Shakespeare uses images of darkness to help indicate and reinforce Macbeth's mood, Shakespeare means his images of darkness to be viewed as evil, with also relate back to the time when Macbeth first saw the witches' and it was dark. Shakespeare also refers to light, which he wants the audience to interpret as good. In Macbeth's small speech to himself he also asks the stars to hide their light so that no-one will see his desire to become King and the lengths he will go to, to make it happen.
        When Lady Macbeth hears her husbands encounter with the witches' and their prophecies and how two of them have come true, she begins to analyse her husbands character noting how he is physically strong but mentally weak. Lady Macbeth plays on this when she insults his manhood, something, which assaults the stronger part of his character. Lady Macbeth knows how he will react to these insults which shows she does indeed know a lot about his character.
At the end of act one scene five we witness Lady Macbeth testing Macbeth while she is urging Macbeth to disguise his deadly intentions behind the face of a welcoming host ready to cater to Duncan and not to show that he is considering killing him. Lady Macbeth also tells him she will manage Duncan's killing, Macbeth's response to this is to reply that they will talk about it later. Macbeth though is beginning to struggle with his conscious, as he believes that killing Duncan will result in vengeance. There are numerous reasons why Macbeth should not go through with the murder but his own ambition drives him on. Lady Macbeth also helps change his decision of not killing Duncan to killing him with insults about him being a coward and insults against his manhood.
Towards the end of act one, the two talk once again about Duncan's killing, Lady Macbeth reveals her plan on how to commence the killing so that they will get away with it. In response to hearing how Lady Macbeth will get the guards so drunk they will not be able to remember the former days events, Macbeth replies with
"Bring forth men-children only," referring to her as a man, because she shows no emotion to the fact they are going to end a life. Macbeth also questions weather they will be caught showing signs of anxiousness, which Lady Macbeth interprets as cowardliness. The pair are willing to sacrifice other peoples lives to get what they want, and they also agree that they must veil their evil to make sure they arouse no suspicions about their intentions. Just as Duncan claimed appearances are deceptive, as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth hide their true intentions behind a mask of fake hospitality.
        
Macbeth's first decision is not to go ahead and murder the king. Macbeth begins to struggle with his conscience the audiences learn of this as he makes a speech in Act one scene Seven. Macbeth is a mentally weak character who although shows not to be fearful on the battlefield when he is killing many members of the enemies forces, lacks that courage when he knows a killing is wrong socially for him. Macbeth comes up with reasons why he should not kill Duncan, because he is blood related to the man, and his only real reason for wanting to kill him, is because he is greedy for the throne. Macbeth also does not like the implications that would come about if it were known that he had murdered the King. Duncan is also a guest in Macbeth's house and even if he was not suspected as the Kings assassin, it is highly degrading to have the King murdered in his own court. Lastly Macbeth believes that Duncan is a good man and a good King, showing pity to the man and struggling with his conscience once more. Macbeth also fears that the art of Killing is unnatural to both innocent humanity and to heaven, by killing someone he believes that he will be dammed for eternity. At the end of Macbeth's speech in which he struggles drastically with his conscience, he does recognise the force, which is driving him to consider the murder in the first place, his ambition.
Lady Macbeth is shocked and appalled at Macbeth's decision not to kill Duncan but Lady Macbeth changes his mind about not killing Duncan by attacking his character and manhood. Lady Macbeth gives a very violent description and reason on why Macbeth must kill Duncan, she also violently exclaims that she would rather kill her own child than break the promise which he propositioned to her about killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth knows her husbands' character well and by insulting his manliness and accusing him of being a coward, two things which the stronger part of his character hold proudly she manages to change his mind and convince him that killing Duncan is the right thing to do. Lady Macbeth also uses emotional blackmail to get Macbeth to change his mind, by claiming that Macbeth would kill Duncan if he loved her.
The final thing, which persuades Macbeth to agree to her plan, is the fact she convinces him he will not be caught. Lady Macbeth repeats her plan to Macbeth convincing him that she will make sure that the guards will be extremely drunk so that they will not remember weather or not they did kill Duncan. Leaving Macbeth to murder the king and his guards to take the blame. Lady Macbeth also she tells him that he will kill Duncan at night so that no one will see him commit the deed. Knowing that he will not be caught, Macbeth gives in and agrees to kill Duncan blindly lead by his ambition.
        The audience once again will have noticed a decline in Macbeth's character, he is no longer shown as being strong and instead he seems very anxious about being caught, fearing the repercussions of his actions. The audience will now view Macbeth as a character that struggles between going after what he wants and dealing with the after effects of his actions. The audience is slowly seeing Macbeth turn towards becoming a murderer as his character adapts to the idea of the killing. Macbeth however should not be viewed as a hero anymore, showing that he lacks several traits of a hero. Macbeth no longer shows bravery and instead shows severe cowardliness, Macbeth also shows that he has lost his courage, as he doubts himself strong enough to deal with the aftermath of Duncan's murder.

The night of Duncan's murder, this was set at night time, because of the association with darkness and evil. The metaphors of darkness meaning evil and light meaning good. Other scenes such as the meeting of the witches were also set in darkness giving a rhythm to the play, which shows the association between darkness and evil.
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