The character that has grabbed my attention while reading Macbeth by Shakespeare is Macbeth, the protagonist of the play. Macbeth is a tragic character who receives downfall on the basis of his ambitiousness and greed of power. The tragic end that Macbeth has is based on his error that he commits in killing King Duncan. The character as a whole is very interesting. Shakespeare shows him as a courageous warrior whom King Duncan regards as loyal. Macbeth loses his courage and valor on the basis of his guilt and is degraded in his own eyes.
Macbeth is ambitious and greedy along with being valorous that can be regarded as a reason for his downfall. Macbeth’s wife is shown greedier and more power thirsty than Macbeth himself and persuades Macbeth towards killing his King. Macbeth being himself ambitious and power thirsty agrees to his wife’s persuasions and commits a crime that leads him to a tragic ending. Macbeth cannot be categorized as a villain because he is unable to surmount his guilt. The villains are able to conduct a crime and meanwhile, their conscience is not awakened but Macbeth commits a crime and his conscience makes him uneasy about his wrongdoing.
Macbeth is also portrayed as a kind person because Lady Macbeth thinks about Macbeth as a person “too full of the milk of human kindness”. The character of Macbeth is portrayed initially as a loyal, brave, valorous, kind and honorable person but later on, when Macbeth becomes Thane of Cawdor and has a future prophesy of becoming the King of Scotland, his ambitiousness and lust for power is invoked by his wife as she continuously asks him to act manly by murdering King Duncan. Macbeth tries to dissuade his wife against the very idea of killing King Duncan but later on, when he is criticized to be a fearful coward, his vanity and pride get injured and he gets ready to conduct the crime.
After committing the crime, Macbeth becomes guilty and his conscience allows him no rest as he ponders over his guilt repeatedly. After murdering King Duncan, Macbeth says, “I am afraid to think what I have done.” Therefore, he has committed the crime but then he is answerable to his conscience due to which, he gains a downfall.
Macbeth is a dignified general before committing the crime and speaks with kindness and love and after his crime, he has a certain threat of his exposure. He is motivated to kill because of his wife’s persuasion and his own over ambitiousness, as he takes the prophecies of the three witches seriously. After becoming the Thane of Cawdor, he waits to be the King of Scotland.
The character of Macbeth has changed during the play. Before conductance of the crime, Macbeth was proud, kind and brave and has no burden over his conscience but after committing the crime, he was guilt trodden and a wrongdoer. His kindness was abused by his crime and his bravery and valor also hath a fall. His character change can be related to the theme of tragedy, betrayal, greed of power and guilt, all are related to the change in Macbeth’s personality throughout the play.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. USA: Yale University Press, 2005.