Choose any two of Macbeth’s soliloquies

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At the beginning of the play Macbeth was recognized as a heroic and kind man, as his wife said, ‘full of the milk of human kindness.’ Throughout the book we see the gradual development and change of his character, and by the end he is classed as evil and a tyrant, as Macduff says, ‘Of horrid hell can come a devil more damned/In evils to top Macbeth.’ He is now overcome with greed and bloodthirstiness, which has been rooted into him by the witches’ predictions.

These predictions maximized his ambition {he would do anything to become king} and changed his usual good and honest motivation into an evil and malicious one. During the transformation of his nature his mind was divided. In the soliloquies, towards the beginning of the book he has an imaginative turn of mind, always thinking of consequences, but after the persuasions by lady macbeth and the witches, this aspect of his mind fades away and he becomes single minded and ruthless. When his wife dies, although he was already a changed man {mostly through her influence} the bitterness he felt maximized his anger and resentment in the mind that was already full of scorpions.

Act 1 Scene7

In one of Macbeths castle’s rooms, Macbeth contemplates the killing of Duncan, in a speech that begins, “If it were done, when ’tis done; then ’twere well/ If it were done quickly.” The change between ‘if,’ and ‘when,’ is Shakespeare’s method of indicating Macbeth’s uncertainty about the murdering of Duncan. Macbeth’s character is trying to convince himself that he is going to commit the crime when, in fact, he is still very unsure, so his first sense of morality is immediately broken.

When Macbeth’s fears about the consequences of detection surface, Macbeth begins to list the reasons for not assassinating the king.

He turns, first, to personal loyalty. He is deeply disturbed at the prospect of killing a king and a blood relative; ‘First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,’ and therefore, he notes that he should protect the king against knife, rather than wield it against him.

Secondarily, he perceives that Duncan has been a good king, against whom he has no grievance. This proves his love for the king, especially when he says he may not be able to commit the crime once he has seen Duncan’s face, so here Macbeth’s conscience is very apparent.

Macbeth fails to mention the most obvious reason for refraining from murder. The reason that it is morally wrong and an awful sin that deserves damnation whether detected or not.

Instead Macbeth turns to making a list of the equipment he would need should he decide to move forward, which proves he is bloodthirsty and deceitful, he is now motivated to commit the crime but his state of mind is still rather split.

On this count Macbeth finds one thing lacking, ‘I have no spur/ to prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself.’ So although we notice that if Macbeth had any real sense of morality or reality he would not have thought of such a cardinal sin in the first place he recognizes that if it wasn’t for his overpowering ambition and greed, he probably wouldn’t carry out the assassination of Duncan, which indicates he is clever and honest.

By the end of the speech I think Macbeth’s mind is turned from committing regicide, but I propose that this could be because he is sceptical about how the murder may turn out, as he says, ‘Might be the be-all and the end-all-here,’ which doesn’t prove that he has a conscience because he is worried for himself and about the consequences of his actions [if it will turn out good or bad for him] not about the very important issue of morality.

It is easily observed, however, that from the beginning of the speech Macbeth is very indirect about ‘the deed’ and shies away from saying words like, assassination and murder instead, he prefers to call the event, ‘it’ or ‘deed’ this is perhaps because of his inward conflict; he persists in questioning in whether he is right or wrong. He is horrified about what he may do so he tries to pretend to himself that the whole idea was senseless, and he does this by not actually saying the correct words, as they sound extremely ruthless. Instead Macbeth replaces those words with gentler ones so to try and trick himself into thinking that there is nothing wrong in what he is doing. Also in Macbeth’s time people were more religious which makes murder even more of a terrible sin than perhaps it is now, so this will make Macbeth, perhaps, very ashamed and have intense feelings of guilt.

Another scene, which reveals these conflicting sides of the character and state of mind, is Act 5, Scene 5.

In this speech we see a stronger more humane side to Macbeth. In the last speech there was a sense of morality which soon disappeared but in this speech Macbeth seems to hold on to the moral issues for much longer, which runs in reverse of the play because at the beginning, Macbeth has a strong conscience which deteriorates as the play goes on.

And although Macbeth is greedy for power and seems completely evil we can evidently see a humane side to him in this powerful speech he makes after his wife dies.

The speech is about his loss of Lady Macbeth and a reflection on the futility of life. Macbeth says that Lady Macbeth should have died later as he is too busy to mourn for her at the moment. He is filled with anguish and expresses a view about life and its seeming futility. He implies that all the days we have lived have just lighted the way to death, life is a stage and we are actors, which reveals that Macbeth lives day by day not thinking about the consequences of his actions and his very negative view on life is now appearing.

Macbeth says, – ‘out, out brief candle,’ which is a powerful image as the candle represents Lady Macbeth’s life and now she is dead the candle is not alight anymore. I think Macbeth uses the word ‘candle’ as it signifies hope in the dark and remembrance. Also as you can put out a candle quickly, it shows that this can happen in life and so life is only temporary. The ‘brief’ candle symbolises how short life is. I imagine Macbeth saying, ‘out, out’ in an angry but sad manner as he is angry for Lady Macbeth’s death and perhaps he is angry with himself too as he was not there for his wife when she was dying, but he still mourns for her, so here Macbeth is going back to his former character, so his state of mind is ominous- he is probably feeling guilty, anger and anguish after the tragic news. Also his motivation is probably changing as he used to be doing things to please his wife, but now he may decide to become completely ruthless.

The way to dusty death is also very powerful, as dust and death are linked closely together as when someone dies a vicar says, ‘dust to dust’ as when the body is cremated it crumbles away and is turned to dust, also both words are related to bad things.

Macbeth’s sensitivity in front of death at this point reveals that he is feeling extreme guilt and remorse for the murders he has committed, which is tragic and ironic now, as these exact villainous deeds have made Lady Macbeth become mad and therefore die so Macbeth is feeling the same remorse as the families of his previous victims.

Macbeth’s repetition of, ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,’ illustrates despair. Macbeth starts this quote powerfully but by the third tomorrow he is weakened which implies that as days go by he is getting weaker and weaker. Also it shows that Macbeth is grieving for his wife and wanted her to die tomorrow.

‘All our yesterdays have lighted fools.’ This means that the yesterdays have just lighted the way for fools [us] to die. Also the, word ‘lighted’ is linked to ‘candle’ in the quote, ‘out, out brief candle’ and Lady Macbeth was a guiding light for Macbeth.

At the beginning of the play Macbeth was a brave, good and admired hero, as the captain says, – ‘for brave Macbeth-well he deserves that name.’ But as the play continues Macbeth’s conscience, sense of morality and guilt rapidly deteriorate, and some of his goodness was lost by bitterness, especially after his wife’s death, where his motivation is completely changed and he decides to become completely ruthless, he imagines that he is indestructible which shows his state of mind is deteriorating as he does not seem afraid of his own death anymore.

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