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William Shakespeare - Macbeth


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Author: William Shakespeare

Title: "Macbeth"

Main characters:

  1. Macbeth is a general of the king of Scotland, Duncan. During the course of the play he commits three heinous crimes: the murder of the king, of his best friend and of Macduff's wife and child. But Macbeth isn't only a bad character, in fact before meeting the witches, he is  a hero, a loyal warrior; but after this meeting he decides to accelerate the weird sisters' prophecy and, at the thought of the sin entailed in the act of killing his king, he is marked by pangs of guilt. Many times in order to mask his crimes he calls on nature. As a man of action , he is convinced that if only he can hide his crimes he will be never detected and his ill feelings will naturally dissipate. Than only when Fleance escapes the fate that Macbeth has planned for him he begins to be frightened. These doubts and fears lead Macbeth back to the witches and toward still more evil deeds. When their new prophecy takes place, He is made a victim of his own self sureness. In his soliloquy on the meaninglessness of life after Lady Macbeth's death, he reaches tragic heights and he displays his mettle after his de 848j92i struction. Only in his final encounter with Macduff he sinks into a slaugh of evil, his mind becomes disordered and his warrior's instinct returns to him.
  2. Banquo once was Macbeth's comarade in arms, and he notes before him the bad potential that the witches' prophecy heralds and he tries to warn his friend of the dangers. He is a highly sympathetic character and often provokes guitly visions in Macbeth's mind.
  3. The three witches are very famous for their incantations, they desire to exercise power over the natural world and they embody evil. Their prophecies are the turning point of the story. They stand for Shakespeare's supernatural idea.
  4. Duncan is the king of Scotland, he is a standard strong ruler who defeats and punishes his enemies while generously rewarding his supporters.
  5. Malcom and Donalbain are Duncan's sons they are positive characters and Malcom is fit to be a king.
  6. Macduff is the real hero of the play, in fact he recognises that behind the death of Duncan and Banquo there's Macbeth. He decides to fight to head the legitimate cause of the king's eldest son, Malcom. He deals with the guilt that he feels over his indirect role in causing the slaughter of his innocent family. He first remonstrates with himself acknowledging that he has been sinful in the sense that his family was slain for his opposition to Macbeth, than he agrees on the need to take revenge upon Macbeth. He is able to move toward the final confrontation with Macbeth refusing to strike down the reluctant soldiers in Macbeth's force and seeking his revenge alone.
  7. Lady Macbeth has come to represent feminine treachery. Her ambition, her duplicity and the outright rejection of such female values as compassion and nurturance mark her as a  heartless villain, more monster than woman. Lady Macbeth spawns the plot to kill king Duncan, who determines the setting and the specific actions through which this bloody deed will take place. But this appraisal of Lady Macbeth's evil character requires qualification if not some revisions. There is her affection toward Macbeth, a distorted bond of love holding the two together. She is humanized by her own decline into guilt-ridden madness. In fact she seems to be invincible and inhuman but in act V she has been reduced to a wretched state. Than she seems caught in the routine of assuring Macbeth that he has no cause for fear, but the union between Lady Macbeth and her husband has disintegrated under the weight of the evil that they have done.

Setting: This tragedy has been written by Shakespeare about 1606, but the real time of the play is some centuries before. The principal places are Duncan and Macbeth's castles.

Plot: At the beginning of the play Duncan, the king of Scotland, asks to his nobles some news about the war against Norwey. They tell him that Macbeth and Banquo, two of his generals, are winning. While Macbeth and Banquo are coming back in Scotland they meet three witches. They greet Macbeth as Lord of Glams and prophecy him that he will be Lord of Cawdor and finally they tell him that he will became king of Scotland. The witches forecast to Banquo that his son will be king too.

When Macbeth  come back to the king, Duncan gives to his general the title of Lord of Cawdor, and goes to Macbeth's castle with all the nobles to celebrate the victory against Norwey. Macbeth tells to his wife, Lady Macbeth, what the witches had told him and she persuades him to kill Duncan to accelerate the prophecies. He regrets about Duncan's murdering, but at the end he kills him. Than he makes guilty the two servants who where sleeping near king's room.

Macbeth is conscious that, even if he is the king now, after his death all will be give to Banquo's son, so he try to kill his friend and the son, Fleance. The three hired killers manage to kill Banquo but Fleance runs away before to be kept. Macbeth, at the castle during the banquet, begins to see Banquo's ghost everywhere, and, the day after, he goes back to the three witches.

They tell him that he will be killed only when he'll see the forest of Birnam marching toward him and that his murderer will be not born by a woman. Meanwhile all the nobles take refuge in England because they has understood that Macbeth is the killer. Than the protagonist kills Macduff's family because was frightened by the nobles' power. After that all the nobles decide to fight against him. Meanwhile Lady Macbeth goes insane and die.

Macbeth prepares a war against the nobles but when a servant run to him to say him that the forest of Birnam seemed marching (that was only a plain to camouflage the nobles' soldiers with leaves and branchs to hid their real number), he started to fear and when he discovers that Macduff was born by a cesarian operation, he braves his destiny and dies in the duel against Macduff. When Macbeth died, Malcom has been chosen to be the new king of Scotland.

Themes and comment: This is a tragedy of great visual and verbal power and it's more complex than others like Titus Andronicus and Shakespearian's early plays. In fact in this tragedy Shakespeare explores all the human mind's darker recesses with a lot of violence and cruelty; but Macbeth is also simple and in the story we don't find some subplots or significant deviations, it's totally centred on a deadly play for power.

Like all the Shakespeare's works, this play talks about death and love, but on the contrary of most of his famous plays like Romeo and Juliet the supernatural world has an important role in the development of the story. The plot of this play is simple but Shakespeare resorts to some expedients to entertain the reader.

The idea of love in Romeo and Juliet is quite different to Macbeth's play. Shakespeare describes love between the two through the point of view of young lovers, but this is a passionate and positive love; on the other hand the love between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is characterized from the desire of power. In fact Lady Macbeth indices Macbeth to kill Duncan not as a wife but as a mother. He is only a frightened man who needs his wife's help to reach his plans.

I like Shakespeare's tragedies because they talk about important themes like love, death, prejudices,. through simple plots. In fact the stories are not complex, but the characters are phsycologically all-rounded.


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