Which version of Macbeth do you prefer?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Macbeth is a good man who suffers a great ordeal when he turns to the dark side. In the beginning, Macbeth has a peaceful soul but once he decided to turn evil we see his soul suffer and his life descend into chaos. King Duncan’s murder is always on Macbeth’s mind and the pain of guilt of his treason, his killing of a good man and kinsman is continually with him. Macbeth suffers from nightmares every time he sleeps. The evil of his acts cannot be put aside. This great sense of guilt suggests Macbeth is a good man. He sees the ghosts of people he has killed because he knows he has done unimaginable evil. If Macbeth was a bad man he would have killed without another thought. Macbeth knows the difference between good and evil and it precisely because of this that he suffers.

Banquo’s murder drives Macbeth to the point of insanity. The death of Banquo further burdens Macbeth who feels already the great guilt of his killing of his king. Banquo was more than another nobleman. He was a friend and a comrade in arms. We see Banquo speak highly of Macbeth. Despite this great bond, Macbeth sets murderers on Banquo having ordered his death, Macbeth suffers enormously. We see this happen when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo. Macbeth’s reaction tells us that he is burdened by the deaths of those he’s killed.

The thought of the killings he has ordered, the thought of his victims’ innocence lead Macbeth to seeing ghosts. This suggests that the evil act that Macbeth has performed has made him suffer greatly. Macbeth was once a good man. He was a man much admired and greatly loved and trusted. He was a man never haunted by horrible imaginings. Now, having acted immorally and because he knows the difference between good and evil, he feels powerfully the guilt of these most horrible murders. Macbeth is driven to the point of seeing ghosts rise from the grave and accuse him with the shaking of “gory locks”.

The nightmarish images stirred up by Duncan’s murder have a great effect on Macbeth’s life. Macbeth continually sees images. Always in Macbeth’s thoughts they stop him sleeping and resting. Just after Macbeth had killed King Duncan we hear him say “Wake Duncan with thy knocking.” These words seem to suggest that he almost wishes Duncan was alive. If he could, Macbeth could turn back time and undo his actions. Macbeth clearly regrets his actions and suffers from this guilt and this guilt threatens to destroy him. Being a good man who performs evil, Macbeth is led into depression and isolation. He cannot trust anyone. He cannot discuss his fears with anyone. He draws away from everyone including his beloved wife and confidant Lady. Macbeth, trying to keep her “innocent of knowledge” he has of all the evil he has unleashed.

For Macbeth sleep is like torture. Macbeth is unable to sleep peacefully without the shouts of his murdered victims keeping him awake. For him, sleep can’t “knit up the ravelled sleeve of time.” He is unable to wake up rested. His victims, those he murdered, are continually wandering through his mind making sleep impossible for Macbeth. Sleep tortures his guilty soul. He feels he is tortured like a bear tied to the stake. Instead of feeling powerful, he feels under threat.

Macbeth turns for some hope to the creatures of the dark. He turns to the witches for help. Once Macbeth heard the prophecy that he would become King he was in their power. When these evil creatures disappear, instead of being grateful he calls them to “come back”. Macbeth lets the prophecies of the creatures of darkness guide his acts and help him to become King. He joins the creatures of the dark relying on their dark prophecies. He calls them “worst means” and so he knows he is losing his soul by going over to them. Despite that Macbeth allows greed and ambition to rule him. He knows the difference between good and evil, and knows he will go to hell. Despite everything he continues.

Macbeth is a good man, a noble man whose loyalty and courage was much admired. He was a good man who gave himself over evil when greed and ambition overwhelmed him. He suffers terribly once he murders and betrays. The re-appearing images of his victims torture his mind and take over his every thought. His ghostly victims are the product of his moral conscience, and they haunt him both day and night. It is because he is a good man that he suffers so much from the evil he does.

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