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Character Changes in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Macbeth: Character Changes

"This dead butcher and his fiend like queen"(V.viii.80) is the way Malcolm describes Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth changed considerably during the course of the play, Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is seen as a courageous soldier who is loyal to the King. As the play progresses, Macbeth is corrupted by the witches’ prophecies and by his and Lady Macbeth’s ambition. Because of the weakness of Macbeth’s character and the strength of Lady Macbeth’s character, Lady Macbeth is able to easily influence him. Lady Macbeth pushes Macbeth toward evil at first, but after he realizes what he has done, it is his decision to continue down the murderous, bloody path.

At the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth appears as a kind wife to Macbeth, but underneath lies a scheming and treacherous woman. Macbeth is initially a strong soldier who fights relentlessly for the King. His ambitious drive and his curious nature lead him to three witches who give him a prophecy. Banquo realizes that there must be a trick hidden in the witches’ prophecies somewhere, but Macbeth refuses to accept that. When Lady Macbeth finds out about the witches, her strong ambition and her cold nature lead Macbeth astray. Macbeth is a little ambitious at first, but Lady Macbeth’s ambition far exceeds his. Therefore, she is able to convince Macbeth to kill King Duncan. Macbeth still has a conscience at this stage because he is very hesitant about killing the King, but his weak nature overcomes him. He actually has a conscience throughout the entire play, as evidenced by the hallucinations of the dagger and the ghost of Banquo. His vivid imagi...

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Over the course of the play Macbeth and Lady Macbeth greatly change with respect to their characters and their personalities. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth appear to be ordinary nobles. Although Macbeth was weak at first, he was able to rely on the formidable strength of his wife’s determination to help him through the first murder. As a result of controlling Macbeth and his conscience, Lady Macbeth eventually weakened under the strain and lost control of her own conscience. Consequently, she became insane and killed herself. Thus, in the end, it seems it is accurate to call Macbeth and his wife "a dead butcher and his fiend like queen"(V.viii.80).

Works Cited:

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 7th ed. New York: Longman, 1999.