In William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth we find a guilt and fear-ridden usurper of the throne of Scotland. Let us study this character in this essay.
A.C. Bradley in Shakespearean Tragedy paints a portrait of Macbeth:
Macbeth, the cousin of a King mild, just, and beloved, but now too old to lead his army, is introduced to us as a general of extraordinary prowess, who has covered himself with glory in putting down a rebellion and repelling the invasion of a foreign army. In these conflicts he showed great personal courage, a quality which he continues to display throughout the drama in regard to all plain dangers. It is difficult to be sure of his customary demeanour, for in the play we see him either in what appears to be an exceptional relation to his wife, or else in the throes of remorse and desperation; but from his behaviour during his journey home after the war, from his later conversations with Lady Macbeth, and from his language to the murderers of Banquo and to others, we imagine him as a great warrior, somewhat masterful, rough and abrupt, a man to inspire some fear and much admiration. (322)
In his book, On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy, H. S. Wilson tells how the audience is inclined to identify with such a rogue as Macbeth:
That such a man should sacrifice all the wealth of his human spirit - his kindness, his love, his very soul - to become a victim to continual fears, a tyrant ruthlessly murdering in the vain attempt to feel safe, finally to be killed like a foul beast of prey - this is terrible, and pitiful, too. Shakespeare has here achieved for us most poignantly the ambivalence of the tragic effect Aristotle described. We see the ne...
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... Samuel. The Plays of Shakespeare. N.p.: n.p.. 1765. Rpt in Shakespearean Tragedy. Bratchell, D. F. New York, NY: Routledge, 1990.
Kemble, Fanny. "Lady Macbeth." Macmillan's Magazine, 17 (February 1868), p. 354-61. Rpt. in Women Reading Shakespeare 1660-1900. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, eds. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 1997.
Lamb, Charles. On the Tragedies of Shakespeare. N.p.: n.p.. 1811. Rpt in Shakespearean Tragedy. Bratchell, D. F. New York, NY: Routledge, 1990.
Mack, Maynard. Everybody's Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. http://chemicool.com/Shakespeare/macbeth/full.html, no lin.
Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.
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