Examining The Characters In Macbeth Plays English Literature Essay


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People often see each other fitted into two categories; females and males. Males are depicted as strong, emotionless warriors and women are usually viewed as gentle and caring beings. But in Shakespeare's Macbeth, characters are shown in two different perspectives. One being alpha and in control while the other is weaker and more emotional. The character's actions are typically based on their gender but at times there is a reversal. This is evident through the characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Malcolm and Macduff.

CI#1: Macbeth

Point 1 (adheres):

Macbeth is shown as courageous and skillful the first time he is introduced in the play.


The soldier tells the king after battle about Macbeth's bravery: "For brave Macbeth - well he serves that name - disdain fortune…till he faced the slave," (Act I, scene ii).

King Duncan also praises Macbeth by saying, "What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won" (Act 1, Scene 2).


This gives the reader the initial depiction of Macbeth as a brave and courageous warrior.

Point 2 (contradicts):

As the play progresses, so does the development of Macbeth's character. His conflicted thoughts turn into inner turmoil.


Before killing the kind, trusting King Duncan, he constantly continues to second guess himself and after the deed is done, his guilt takes over. Right after his murderous deed, while the blood still lay on his hand, he says to himself, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?" (Act II, scene ii)


A true warrior wouldn't second guess their actions but this shows the depth of Macbeth's guilt, and a turning point on his masculinity.

Point 3 (outcome):

Due to his unethical behavior, Macbeth gets slain and deserves what he gets.


After the showdown between Macbeth and Macduff, Macduff is victorious and says too all his people, "Behold, where stands the usurper's cursed head: the time is free," (Act V, scene 6)


This quote proved that Macbeth wasn't man enough to face his problems, but rather he chose to hire murderers and even he got involved in killing people, which in the end, he truly tasted his own medicine by being slain.

CI#2: Lady Macbeth

Point 1 (adheres): Lady Macbeth is foreshown as a very supportive and loving wife. After reading her husband's letter, she expresses her concern for him, just like any caring wife would do.



Point 2 (contradicts): After realizing that her feminine qualities are getting in the way, Lady Macbeth calls on evil spirits to fill her from head to toe.



Point 3 (outcome): Due to her actions, Lady Macbeth feels tremendous guilt. Her actions come back to haunt her in the end, leading to her death.



CI#3: Malcolm

Point 1 (adheres): later on in the play, Malcolm is depicted as a commander and takes the role of the alpha male by being charge of the army plotting to kill Macbeth.

Proof: Let every soldier hew him down a bough, and bear't before him; thereby shall we shadow. (Act V, scene iv)

Comment: This shows how Malcolm's initiative and determination to restore justice to the people of Scotland.

Point 2 (contradicts): After his father's tragic death, Malcolm runs away, scared of being next to be killed.

Proof: "Which the false man does easy. I'll to England. (Act II, scene iii)

Comment: This shows Malcolm's cowardice. He is afraid of being slain by the murder.

Point 3 (outcome): Due to his actions accompanied with Macduff's guidance, Malcolm is rightfully placed in power.

Proof: " My thanes and kinsmen… the first that ever Scotland, I'm such an honour named." ( Act V, scene i)

Comment: this shows Malcolm's loyalty to his people and he gives off a more superior attitude than he did before.

CI#4: Macduff

Point 1 (adheres): Macduff shows his masculinity when he talks about killing Macbeth.

Proof: "I have no words: My voice is in my sword."

Comment: This shows that MacDuff is confident and sure about killing Macbeth. Confidence plays a key role in being brave and masculine.

Point 2 (contradicts): Macduff shows his more emotional side after the King's death and after finding out about his family's death as well.

Proof: "But I also feel it as a man: I cannot but remember such things were, That were most precious to me…naught that I am, not for their own demerits, but for mine, Fell slaughter on their souls: heaven rest them no," (Act IV, scene iii).

Comment: This shows that Macduff gets emotional when talking about his family's death. He blames it on himself and regrets leaving them alone.

Point 3 (outcome): Because of Macduff's intentions of revenge, Macbeth ends up getting slain and Malcolm is rightfully named King.

Proof: "Lay on, Macduff; And damn'd be him that first cries 'Hold, enough,'" (Act V, scene viii).

Comment: Macduff wants This shows that emotions and bravery tie together to make Macduff victorious over Macbeth.


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