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Essay Comparing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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William Shakespeare’s Macbeth tells the story of a general who commits regicide in order to become king. Early in the play, Macbeth is conflicted as to weather or not he wants to kill his kinsman the king. In the first two acts Macbeth is not portrayed as a ruthless killer; he is a sympathetic character who succumbs to the provocation of his wife and a prophecy foretold by three mysterious witches. In contrast, Lady Macbeth is a manipulative, immoral woman. Her ambition is so strong that she is willing to do anything to see her husband succeed. However, in the third act things begin to change. The death of the king and lord and lady Macbeth’s rise to power catalyze profound transformation in their personalities.

Before Macbeth enters the stage his reputation as a prestigious general is established. In the second scene of the play men who have fought with Macbeth rant about his courage in battle. The first account of Macbeth’s bravery comes from an injured captain. He says: “ But all’s too weak/for brave Macbeth (Well he deserves that name)/ Disdaining fortune, with his brandish steel/. (1.2.17) The rest of the scene consists of other recounts of Macbeth’s success; the thane of Ross informs the king that Macbeth has successfully suppressed the joint efforts of the thane of Cawdor, and the king of Norway. Furthermore, in this scene the king announces that Macbeth is to be promoted as the new thane of Cawdor. In this scene Macbeth is portrayed as a mighty, patriotic, warrior and a loyal subject to the king. However as the play progresses Macbeth deviates from these traits. Macbeth’s encounter with the three witches confuses him. He begins to decide on a course ...

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... to kill Banquo he says “ Not I’ th’ worst rank of manhood say ‘t And I will put that business in your bosoms”(3.1.115) This was the same technique that Lady Macbeth used when she was persuading Macbeth to kill Duncan; she questioned his manhood. While Macbeth is loosing his morals, Lady Macbeth is developing hers. After Macbeth reveals his plot to kill Banquo she is reluctant to add another murder to those already committed: “You must leave this”(3.3.40)

In act three another prophecy foretold by the witches comes true. The paradox “fair is foul and foul is fair” characterizes the changes the protagonists undergo in acts one, two and three. Throughout the play Macbeth, the “fair” one, becomes overcome by guilt and becomes “foul”. While Lady Macbeth who was “foul” in her instigations becomes “fair”.
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