Which version of Macbeth do you prefer?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

JACOB

Macbeth does a great deal of evil, but because he is a good man, he suffers very greatly for it. A courageous thane, Macbeth was a good man, much admired by his peers and even king Duncan himself. Macbeth was also ambitious, and his ambitions were incompatible with the actions of a good, loyal man. When prophecies set free these thoughts, they quickly became actions. Macbeth committed great evil in the killing of Duncan, Banquo, and those who might pose a threat to his hold on the throne. These actions had serious consequences and took a great toll on him. Macbeth lost his ability to sleep soundly. He lost his peace of mind, he lost his friends and followers and even his wife. Finally he lost his sense of humanity and any real desire to live.

In the beginning, Macbeth was a good man. In the battle against the traitorous Macdonald, Duncan’s army faltered. Their situation looked bleak, until Macbeth turned the battle in Duncan’s favour. Seemingly unstoppable, Macbeth carved his way through the opposing army. Macbeth cut his way through, all the way to Macdonald and proceeded to “unseam him from his nave to his chops” with righteous brutality. Even when reinforcements arrived to assist Macdonald’s side, Macbeth continued his onslaught, undaunted by the opposition. The king, upon hearing reports of the battle, openly praised Macbeth to all present thanes and servants alike, calling him “O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman!”. When the play begins, Macbeth is a man very much loved and admired.

Despite the fact that he is acclaimed as a good, loyal man, Macbeth’s mind dwelt on evil thoughts. His evil thoughts were given new vitality by the three “weird sisters’” prophecies. After the battle, as Macbeth and Banquo were walking back to the king’s campsite, they stumbled across three witches that told Macbeth he would be thane of Glamis, then of Cawdor, then King. The moment the idea that he would become king was spoken, Macbeth became trapped in his own thoughts as his mind worked on how he could seize the crown. When Macbeth returned to his castle, he and Lady Macbeth began to plot how Duncan will meet his end. The good loyal man is seduced by the temptation of power and wealth. Any doubts that Macbeth had that he should not proceed were stamped out by Lady Macbeth. She snuffed out his good instincts. We see Macbeth committed to the murder when he tries to snatch the dagger illusion that hangs in the air in front of him. With that action he has aligned himself to evil, and is forever doomed to hell.

Macbeth then proceeds to commit acts of great evil. Macbeth brutally murdered the loved and respected king Duncan while a guest of Macbeth, he slept soundly. Macbeth then killed Duncan’s drunken guards, out of fear that they might have seen him commit this atrocity. Macbeth then sent murderers after his good friend Banquo, for Banquo was there when the witches made their prophecies and Macbeth worried that Banquo might reveal the effect that the witches’ words had on him. Macbeth continued then to murder the murderers so that they would not divulge anything to anyone else. Macbeth killed off anyone who might have posed a threat to his position and power. But it’s as if after the first murder that Macbeth has nothing left to lose. He knows he is damned from that first early moment. He knows that there is no way back to grace and goodness.

Despite all the evil that Macbeth had committed, it can still be argued that he is a good man. He suffered very greatly for the evil acts he commited. After Macbeth murdered Duncan, he stumbled distractedly out of the king’s chamber in a state of utter shock. Still carrying the blood-drenched daggers, he wandered the castle. He felt as though he would never again find peace, because he understood the full weight of what he had done. He lost his peace of mind and his powerful sense of right and wrong, damned him to hell. Upon sending the murderers to kill Banquo, Macbeth saw Banquo’s ghost, whom no-one else could see. This image of his guilt tormented him and tortured him. His behaviour, seeming quite mad to those around him, showed his distress at his sense of utter guilt. The closeness between Macbeth and his wife is broken after the murders. Knowing he is damned to hell, he can understand the impact on his wife as well. He seeks by his silence to protect his wife from any more unrest and the moral repercussions of the further deaths. Macbeth suffers from the loss of support from his wife. He feels that he is upon a torturer’s rack.
Macbeth does a great evil. Killing Duncan, his beloved king, Banquo, his great friend, and many others, he knows he is a monstrous butcher. Yet his great suffering is the result of the fact that he knows the difference between good and evil. He condemns himself as much as others condemn him. Macbeth loses everything he values; the ones closest to him, his peace, and eventually his desire to continue

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