Which version of Macbeth do you prefer?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Shakespeare’s Macbeth shows us a good man with a pure heart who after committing great evil suffers from all he has lost. He suffers the loss of his wife and the close bond they had. He suffers the loss of the respect, companionship and loyalty of his friends and followers. He suffers dearly with the guilt and shame. He feels horrible, having killed a good and loved king.
Macbeth who at the start of the play was a loyal and noble thane acquired a thirst for power which led him down the path of evil. The suffering Macbeth goes through suggests he is a moral man, who knows that he had done great wrong.

After Macbeth murdered King Duncan his suffering began. Macbeth was a loyal servant of the king. We saw this when he was highly praised and highly regarded by Duncan. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth felt guilt and shame above all other feelings. As soon as Macbeth murdered King Duncan he wished he could turn back time and return to a time before this terrible act of treason.

A result of feeling guilty after the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth suffered from horrible nightmares which caused Macbeth great anguish. Before Duncan was even murdered Macbeth was having evil thoughts and desires about having the crown. He calls these desires ‘black and deep’. He knows they are evil but wants the crown. He wonders if there is a way he can ‘jump the life to come’ or avoid the price of his evil acts. After the murder Macbeth realises that he has done the devils work and the understanding that he will go to hell, almost makes Macbeth crazy.

Rather than being a man who could control himself and others he becomes a man who is always talking to himself and trying to reason with himself to stay calm. Always afraid of being discovered he doubts his followers’ actions and loyalty. Macbeth used to be full of courage, but he becomes full of fear and realises he has to kill others if he is going to avoid being caught. Macbeth knows he has to kill his once great friend Banquo as Banquo knows of Macbeth’s ambitions. Macbeth sends people to murder Banquo and even his innocent young son Fleance, as Macbeth believes the witches who tell him that Fleance will take his crown at some time.

Throughout the play Macbeth wears the crown, but suffers knowing that the crown is not rightfully his. As soon as he has the crown he can see that if it is not worth having. Rather than a ‘hollow round’, he wishes he had his peace of mind. He decides, despite that, to continue to defend himself, to protect himself from thanes who might accuse him. Macbeth says that it is as much an effort to go back as it is to continue.

As Macbeth continues his bloody reign he loses everything he ever valued. He loses desire to stay King he calls the throne ‘merely a stool’. He loses the respect and love of people who hold him in high regard Macbeth knows the thanes laugh at him as a ‘dwarfish thief’. Macbeth feels shattered and almost loses the will to live. Macbeth taunts death by saying to death ‘let death be-all and end-all’ Macbeth seems to lose the will to live. Every new day is ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’. Life has lost all meaning.

The great regret Macbeth feels stems from the fact that he was a good man. He knew the difference between good and evil and he knew the shame he had brought on himself. After the murder of Banquo, Macbeth sees a ghostly image of his bloody dead friend. Banquo shakes his head at Macbeth as if to say you have sinned greatly. Macbeth knows Banquo is dead so he knows this is the work of his own mind. Macbeth was once a man of enormous courage, but know is frightened of an empty seat. Once Macbeth was afraid of no-one, but now his guilty heart makes him afraid of everyone. Even though the thanes are afraid to publicly accuse him of the evil they know he has committed. Macbeth’s own guilty conscience says the words they are afraid to say. Only a man who could clearly see a difference between good and evil could feel as guilty as Macbeth does.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth we are asked to see Macbeth as a good and even great man, but what makes this a tragedy is that this great man is greatly flawed. Macbeth suffers from great ambition and great greed. To realise his dreams he does great evil and suffers greatly through his own intense realisation of his own guilt. We also see Macbeth crumble under the weight of his own accusations. Macbeth loses his self respect and the respect of others. He loses everything he valued and eventually he loses his head and the crown that sat on top of it.

Mark Tognolini 11B

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