Macbeth is a famous play written by William Shakespeare in the 17th century. However, the setting of Macbeth took place in eleventh century Scotland. The eleventh century in Scotland was a violent and troubled century as there were feuding families and clans which fought to control trade and territory. In addition, political murders and revenge killings were commonplace. Macbeth is a tragedy: the portrayal of the fall of a great man because of a fatal flaw in his character.
The two main characters, which I feel in this play, are to some extent a victim, are Mabeth and Lady Macbeth.
In Act 1 Scene 3, when Macbeth and Banquo pss the three witches, they greet Macbeth with profound but good news. However, we find that Macbeth is bewildered as well as surprised. This is shown when the witches say the following, “all hail Macbeth, hail to thee thane of Glamis/all hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter”. In addition, in Act 1 Scene 3, we find that Macbeth’s ambition has overcome his vulnerable mind, “the greatest is behind”. This leaves him in a slight vulnerable position, as we discover that to some extent Macbeth is a victim of his own ambition.
Secondly, in Act 1Scene 3 we see that in Macbeth’s first soliloquy that he has thoughts of murder, is this his imagination or the witches who have influenced him with evil imaginings, “Horrid image”/”horrible imaginings”. It is slightly ambiguous to whether Macbeth is slightly a victim of influence from the evil forces or if it is his own imagination. At the start of Act 1 Scene 4, we see that Macbeth changes his mind, because he now sees Duncan’s son Malcolm as an obstacle between himself and the throne. We find that Macbeth is becoming slightly evil here, or is it evil forces manipulating his mind? This is slightly vague in some ways.
On the other hand, we discover that Macbeth is not much of a victim here as he admits that he has “black and deep desires”, and calls upon the stars not to shine their light on his thoughts. In some cases, this suggests that Macbeth is to some extent a victim of his over conquering ambition.
In Act 1 Scene 4, when Duncan announces that his son, Malcolm shall succeed to the throne, we find that Macbeth is either letting his ambition take over his mind or he is turing into an evil villain as he says, “The prince of Cumberland: that is a step/On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap/For in my way it lies”. In some perspectives this is rather ambiguous to see whether Macbeth is being controlled by his ambition or he is a villiain, as he seems to see Malcolm in a different light.
In Act 1 scene 5, we find that Macbeth’s free-will is taken out of the picture here as, Lady Macbeth’s power of deception is shown here as she tells Macbeth to be more like, “the poisonous serpent that lies hidden beneath the innocent flower”. This puts Macbeth in a slight vulnerable position as he is influenced under Lady Macbeth’s power of deception. Or, maybe Lady Macbeth is helping Macbeth to achieve his ambitions. On the other hand, this also tells us that Macbeth may not be a victim as he could wish not to follow this path, a she has a free will.
At the end of Act 1 Scene 7, we see that Macbeth’s selfish ambition has changed his fate and mind in favour of killing Duncan, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know”. This is ironic in a way, as this is what Lady Macbeth said to Macbeth, this tells us that Macbeth is turning into a villain due to his ambition. In some cases this suggests that Macbeth is an innocent victimof his own ambition, but this also suggests that it is himself changing his fate as he does have free will.
In Act 2 Scene 1, Macbeth experiences a hallucination, which fills him with pure evil, as he is letting the murder take over his life. He becomes obsessed. As the dagger moveshi mto kill Duncan, his thoughts are filled with evil images, which spur him on to commit the murder as he says, “I go and it is done/The bell invites me/Hear it not Duncan, for it is a knell/That summons thee to heaven or to hell”. We discover here that Macbeth is becoming insane in some ways, or is it the evil forces of darkness controlling his mind?
After the death of Duncan, it is obvious that Macbeth is nothing but a cold-blooded killer. However, to some extent we find that Macbeth is to some what guilty of what he has done, as he says in Act 2 Scene 2, “Macbeth does murder sleep”, and “I’ll go no more/I am afraid to think what I have done; Look on’t again, I dare not”.
In Act 3 Scene 1, we discover that Macbeth becomes slightly insecure, in the way that he is scared and thinks that it is futile that he has murdered Duncan because he has made it easier for Banquo’s descendents to becom kings as he says, ” For them, the gracious Duncan have I murdered?Put rancours in the vessel of my peace/Only for them, and mine eternal jewel”. In addition, this leeds to the death of Banquo, which surely makes Macbeth a villain. Also, we see that Macbeth is not an innocent victim here because he has let evil imaginings as well as the truths told by the witches to have changed Macbeth’s perspective of Banquo from a ‘friend’ to an ‘enemy’.
At the end of Act 3 Scene 4, we see that Macbeth broods on murder and unnaturalness. Macbeth thinks he is in so far deep in blood that he might as well go on and kill Macduff’s family, “I am in blood steeped in so far/That I should wade no more”. From this, we see that Macbeth is nothing but a villain as he is killing innocent people. Although, in a way his ambition has over conquered his mind, and has led him to go on and commit murderous deeds.
In Act 4 Scene1, we see that Macbeth is slightly a victim here of the witches manipulation. In addition, we find that Macbeth is to some extent a victim of himself, as he has lured himself in to more worse consequences, from the three apparitions, “Even till destruction sicken: answer me/To what I ask you”. After all Macbeth could still be a villain here as he could back out as he does have a free will.
After the death of lady Macbeth, we see that Macbeth has not been left in an invulnerable position but instead he has neglected his wife when she was ill, making him nothing but an uncompassionate character.
When we first meet Lady Macbeth in the play in Act 1 Scene 5, we see her as a persuasive but an intellectual character in the play. In Lady Macbeth’s first soliloquy we see that she is not really a victim.