Identity in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Macbeth “The play is about identity, not good and evil. Macbeth is a character developed far more than any other, and his destruction is truly tragic.” Can you describe the play in these terms? One of the main questions that comes up when thinking about Macbeth is do the characters occupy the play to tell a historical story, or does the drama exist as a prop to explore the physiological nuances of the character Macbeth. It could be argued that the character of Macbeth, his complex physiological states, his weakness of character, the part that people around him and his wife play in the development of character, and destiny are truly the central themes of the play. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is praised by many people and looked up to as a war hero. “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name” 1:2:16. He is well respected by the king and even chosen by him to be the new Thane of Cawdor. Even Macbeth knows that he is at a good point in his life “I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people” 1:7:33. So we form an opinion that he is a great man. We are able to make a connection with Macbeths because Shakespeare takes us into his mind. When Macbeth is equivocating about killing King Duncan we can see that he has a working conscience and that he is not a bad guy. Macbeth is the only character in the play that we can be sure has an active conscience. Shakespeare presents all the other characters with faults. Macduff leaves his family to be murdered and in act 4:3 Malcolm lies to Macduff and tells him it was the only lie he ever told. If the play was about good and evil the good characters would not be given these vices and we would not get to see Macbeth’s conscience. Macbeth’s weakness of character is ... ... middle of paper ... ...cbeth started making decisions to kill people he was finally thinking for himself and taking control. He is becoming a strong decisive king that knows what he wants. By the time he has to fight Macduff Macbeth has grown into an honourable person. When he threw down his shield it was a sign that he was fighting for himself and was not afraid anymore. Macbeth was not evil he was just a man struggling with his identity and trying to be something he was not. He new nothing other than how to be a soldier and he was good at it. In the end he realised it was the only way he could win his battle. “I’ll fight till from me bones me flesh be hacked. Give me my armour.” 5:3:33. Even though Macbeth had become hated and thought of as a tyrant to others he had won his own battle. This becomes clear when at the end of the play Macbeth feels proud to say “My name’s Macbeth.” 5:8:6.

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