Hero, Villain, or Both: The Transformation of Macbeth

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In the play Macbeth, we witness Macbeth transform from an honest, courageous human to a dark, dishonest man who is full of greed and craves power. Various acts of loyalty and betrayal take place throughout the play, and these acts help pave the way for the rest of the plot. We witness a series of betrayals that act similar to that of unsteady building blocks, with each betrayal adding more consequence and weight to the next until they all crumble back down. This was the case with Macbeth, where he would betray his old friends and essentially ruin their lives, until eventually, these betrayals returned the favor. All of Macbeth’s betrayals prove to be of paramount importance, as each one will change the terrain of the play drastically. The themes of loyalty and betrayal sculpt the plot of Macbeth and alter the complex personalities of the characters.

In the beginning of the play Macbeth, Macbeth is an extremely honest, loyal, and humble individual. He cares more for the wellbeing of others, rather than that of his own. Numerous people admire his courage and loyalty to his King, including the captain who says, “For brave Macbeth¬—well he deserves that name--Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel”(1.2 ll. 16) The Captain’s words indicate just how courageous and loyal Macbeth is to his King Duncan. Macbeth put his life on the line to protect his kingdom, and not only did he protect it, he led the army to a heroic victory. Macbeth also expresses his appreciation and dedication to King Duncan. He says, “The service and the loyalty I owe, in doing it, pay itself” (1.4 ll. 22). Macbeth is now responding to the praise he has received from King Duncan, and once again reiterates his loyalty to Duncan. Macbeth says he does not need t...

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... edge o' th' sword / His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls / That trace him in his line” (4.1 ll. 150). Macbeth’s anger reaches its pinnacle at this point in the play; he is now relentless. Since Macbeth believes that Macduff is now a traitor, he will not show mercy, and eliminate anyone he can who is related to Macduff.

Macbeth started off as a loyal, humble, and honest individual. As the plot progressed, and the witches came into play, Macbeth started to morph into a character that would not hesitate to murder someone as prestigious as a King or someone as kind as his closest friend. We witnessed a complete change of heart from Macbeth, as his greed and lust to become King changed his attitude and outlook on life. All these atrocious actions by Macbeth come back to haunt him, as he becomes the one being betrayed, and justice is served to Scotland.
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