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An Essay On Macbeth

These analytical papers are designed to review your knowledge of the drama and apply that knowledge to a critical paper. The topics may request that you examine the conflicts, themes, or question a standard theory about the play.

Topic #1
The term tragic hero refers to a central character who has a authoritative status in the drama, but through a flaw in his or her character brings about his or her demise. The flaw may consist of a poor decision that is made and creates a situation the character cannot change or control. The tragic hero recognizes his or her flaw, however there is nothing that can be done to avert tragedy. Macbeth is seen as a tragic hero. Write a paper tracing the sequence of events that contribute to Macbeth’s demise and tragic end.

I. Thesis Statement: Macbeth is seen as a tragic hero. He compromises his honor and negates moral responsibility to attain power and position which result in his tragic end.

II. Definition and characteristics of a tragic hero
1. Fate
2. Weakness
3. Poor decision making resulting in a catastrophe
4. Realization of flaw but unable to prevent tragedy

III. The Witches
A. Plan to meet Macbeth
B. Statement that fair is foul, and foul is fair

IV. Allegiance to Scotland and Duncan
A. Battle with Macdonwald
B. Battle with the King of Norway
C. Duncan’s Response
1. Honor bestowed on Macbeth
2. Duncan’s opinion of Macbeth

V. Witches on the battlefield
A. The prophecy
B. Macbeth’s Response
C. Banquo’s Response

VI. Macbeth’s meeting with Duncan
A. Duncan greets Macbeth with respect
B. Macbeth’s reaction to Duncan naming Malcolm as his successor

VII. Decisions made before Macbeth is king
A. Lady Macbeth’s plan
1. Macbeth’s response
2. Lady Macbeth’s Influence on Macbeth
3. Macbeth’s decision
B. Eve of the Murder
1. Floating Dagger
2. Macbeth’s reaction
C. Duncan’s Murder
1. Murder of the guards
2. Response
D. Discovery of Duncan’s body
1. Macbeth’s reaction
2. Duncan’s sons
3. Macbeth named as king

VIII. Decisions made as King
A. Banquo
1. Fear of prophecy
2. Hires Murderers
B. Banquet
1. Reaction to Murderers
2. Ghost
C. Meeting with the Witches
1. Response to Prophecy
2. Macduff and family
3. Leaving for Dunsinane in England
D. Battle with Malcolm’s forces
1. Dunsinane prophecy
2. Young Siward
3. False sense of security
E. Reactions to Lady Macbeth’s illness and death
F. Meeting Macduff
1. Guilt
2. Revealing prophecy to Macduff
3. Macbeth’s realization that the Witches told him half-truths

IX. Macbeth’s tragic end
A. Macduff’s victory
B. Malcolm’s speech

Topic #2
Lady Macbeth is seen as a controlling factor in Macbeth’s life. She is able to control his actions and events. However, she loses control of Macbeth. Write a paper describing what control she has in Macbeth’s life and how the loss of that power contributes to her demise.

I. Thesis Statement: Lady Macbeth’s desire for power prompts her interest in controlling Macbeth’s actions. However, she loses control which contributes to her tragedy.

II. Introduction of Lady Macbeth
A. Reading Macbeth’s letter
B. Witches prophecy fulfilled
C. Opinion of Macbeth
D. Desire for Power
1. Strength needed
2. Her plan
III. Meeting with Macbeth
A. Affection towards each other
B. Lady Macbeth’s plan

IV. Power over Macbeth
A. Macbeth’s Decision about Lady Macbeth’s plan
1. Lady Macbeth’s response to Macbeth
a. Attacks...

(The entire section is 1614 words.)

Macbeth, despite influences of the witches and Lady Macbeth, is responsible for his downfall. In Shakespeare’s playMacbeth, Macbeth is a tragic hero who destroys himself by his own wicked and selfish ambitions. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a courageous, noble hero of Scotland who has bravely won the war. As the story continues, Macbeth soon becomes a tyrant king who is willing to murder anyone who becomes a threat to his kingdom.

As the play begins, Macbeth proves himself to be a hero as he demonstrates his bravery and courage. He is praised highly by the captain who describes the bravery and brutality of Macbeth towards Scotland’s enemies: “he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops”. His bravery is recognised by King Duncan who rewards him righteously, yet Macbeth’s brutal and violent character leads him to murder the king. Although Macbeth was influenced by Lady Macbeth and the witches in committing the murder, his deep desire and character motivates and fuels his ambition.

Macbeth is firstly influenced by the three witches who prophecy that he will be king. “All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.” Macbeth blindly believes the prophecy without any proof. He refuses to dismiss the words of the witches like Banquo, but instead he chose to believe in those miss-interpreted predictions. Although the witches’ predictions are somewhat responsible for influencing Macbeth’s thoughts, they did not suggest the murder of the king. The thought of murder and treachery must have crossed Macbeth’s mind as his guilt is noticed by Banquo: “Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?”

Macbeth’s “black and deep desires” horrify him and he refuses to speak of them openly, but he sends a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, explaining the situation. Lady Macbeth, on receiving the letter, encourages murder as she sees that this is possibly the only opportunity to achieve their ambition. Macbeth allows his wife to manipulate him by accusing him of not being a ‘man’ and expresses that she would kill her own baby to have their desire fulfilled. “I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this”. Yet Macbeth, being strong mentally and physically, does not put a stop to the murder plan while his conscience warns him of the downfall lurching in the vicinity. Instead of listening to his conscience, he suppresses his guilt and continues with his ambition. Even his mind, intoxicated by the thoughts of murder, directes him to the kings room. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutchthee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.”

Macbeth is greatly influenced by the three witches and Lady Macbeth. However, he is ultimately responsible for his own actions. He denies to listen to his own conscience which repeatedly commands him to consider his ways and the path which is slowly leading him to destruction.

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