- Analyse how one or more important events influenced a change in a character.
The play “Macbeth” written by Shakespeare and first performed in 1606 is a classic play, set in medieval Scotland partly based on true historical account which details the bloody rise to power and the tragic downfall of the warrior Macbeth. Throughout this play there are many turning points that influence a huge change in Macbeth and who he was. This includes the interactions with the witches and being crowned as king. This play depicts how many conscious decisions to descend to evil and tyranny in the name of power and ambition can be heavily influenced and caused by outside catalysts.
It begins with three evil witches who plan to meet Macbeth in the Scottish countryside. They say “Fair is foul and foul is fair; hover through the fog and filthy air” The denotative meaning of this quote is that whatever appears to be appealing is impure and whatever seems to be impure is actually appealing. In other words it means that appearances can be deceiving. This was portrayed many times throughout the play and were important events that influenced Macbeth in his rise to power and major change in character. In the beginning, Macbeth is a noble and loyal warrior who was thought very highly of by the King. When the King heard of Macbeth’s triumphs and the disloyalty of the Thane of Cawdor in battle he named Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor. Before Macbeth had heard of this he met the witches. They greeted him by saying “Thane of Glamis, thane of cawdor and king hereafter.” Macbeth of course thought they were crazy but the Thane of Cawdor prophecy came true which was an important event that skyrocketed his ambition. He then of course thought that he was the rightful heir to the throne and that all of the witches prophecies were to come true. This first meeting with the witches was a hugely influential event for Macbeth and was just the beginning of his change in character from a loyal and noble warrior to a King gone rogue.
The next important event that made his ambition grow even more and influenced a change in his character was the announcement of King Duncan’s son Malcolm as next in line for the throne. Macbeth suddenly felt the urge to take the matter into his own hands. This was one of the most distinct changes in Macbeth’s character as he started to plot about what he could do to get ahead. This is when his wife, Lady Macbeth got involved which was another one of the huge turning points in the play. When she read Macbeth’s recount of the witches prophecies and upon hearing about Malcolm being named as heir she said “Unsex me fill me from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty.” This means that she wanted to be filled with the cruelty of a man at war, she didn’t want to have any mercy for whom she must walk over to get Macbeth to be king. This along with her new and unwavering ambition led her to persuade Macbeth to kill king duncan. When the king came to stay at their house, lady macbeth coaxed her husband into murdering him in his sleep. I would call this the point of no return. Prior to this event Macbeth’s descent into evil and loss of his honour was slow but once this act was undertaken it turned bad very quickly. This was also when Macbeth’s sense of right and wrong was conflicted with his own ambition. He very much wanted to be king and part of him knew what he must do but the noble and loyal warrior side of him was trying to push that away. At this point Lady Macbeths desie to murder King Duncan wa uwavering and she seemed to think that it would be easy and over and done with. This triggered another series of events. Lady Macbeth began to belittle macbeth’s masculinity tricking him into thinking that this was the only way to gain it back and prove he was man enough to be king.
Macbeth is now experiencing inner turmoil with his want to be king and his moral compus and loyalty to the king. He isn’t sure if it’s the right thing to do no matter how hard lady macbeth tries to convince him. This is when the next huge influence happened to change his character to an evil and ambitious man which no sense of right and wrong and what ultimately pushed him into chaos. Macbeth saw a ghostly dagger and was convinced that this is a sign that he must kill King Duncan. All he needed was a slight amount of reassurance, even if it was his own mind playing tricks on him, to go that next step which he shall not return from. He then murdered the servants who he was pinning the murder on so that no one could prove it was him. Macbeth’s thirst for power only grows from this point on but lady macbeth begins to have doubts. She realises that washing the blood off her hands isn’t as easy. She says “Yet who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him?” but what she really means is why do I feel so guilty about the act we have commited. However at this point Macbeth no longer needed his wife’s drive to push him and his ambition forward. It had grown so much that he even killed his own best friend Banquo.
The final major event the influenced the change in macbeth’s character was the last meeting with the witches. This was a very clear portrayal of the quote “fair is foul and foul is fair.” as all of the witches prophecies, although they seemed very positive for Macbeth, were inherently not. They said “beware of Mcduff. You won’t be killed by any man born of a woman, you won’t be vanquished until a forest comes to you.” this gave macbeth a false sense of stability as firstly Mcduff was born of a cesarean section so technically not born of a woman and secondly the army used bushes and branches to sneak up to the castle, effectively bring a forest to macbeth. So macbeth was convinced that nothing could touch him. Descending his character into more evil than ever with a new found confidence that lead to his death by Mcduff. His ambition was his over all downfall as it grew slowly in the beginning but many seemingly small events would ultimatley ruin is sanity and led to his murder.
Macbeth’s change in character wasn’t influenced by one event but by many throughout the play. They all slowly pushed him deeper into insanity and his ambition only grew, leading to his downfall in the end. The first huge catalyst to his change from a loyal and honorable warrior was the witches prophecies. This lead to macbeth having a great desire to become king as he thought it was his rightful place. Upon learnign that he may not just receive it he took matters into his own hands, leading to the murder of King Duncan and his inheitence of the throne. The next huge factor was the second prophecy from the witches. These gave macbeth a false sense of security in the fact that he would not be able to be defeated, only heighting his ambition and ripping away anything left of his sanity. Thus leading to his murder by Mcduff. Over all throughout the play the main infuened that changed macbeths characters were the witches. Macbeth put so much faith and trust into their prophecies that he though they must come true which no catch and took matters into his own hands turning him evil and leading to massive disorder within the kingdom.