What qualities does Macbeth have

Quick overview
  • Macbeth is going through a shift in drama.
  • Initially: brave, brave, skillful commander, loyal
    Center: unscrupulous, devious, increasingly brutal, paranoid / lives in constant fear
    At the end: brutal, unfriendly, isolated, lacking courage to face life (partly nihilistic)
  • constant: excessive ambition, suggestible, belief in the supernatural
  • Ambition is activated by the witches (prophecies)
  • Macbeth murders Duncan and gets into a vicious circle → more murders to cover up previous murders.
  • Macbeth dies fighting Macduff at the end of the drama.


Macbeth is the main and title character of the drama. He does not appear himself at the beginning, but is described exclusively by others. If one compares these descriptions with the later character of Macbeth, then one can see that his personality is going through a change.

Quote: Act 1, Scene 2, verse 15f
Captain:

But all`s too weak,
For good Macbeth

Quote: Act 1, Scene 2, Verse 24 (via Macbeth)
Duncan:

O valiant cousin, worthy gentleman.

Macbeth is referred to as the brave commander Depicted in the Scottish Army. He is called brave described and should be the one who, due to his determination and his martial skill helped the Scottish army win against the Norwegians and the rebels. His handling of the traitor Macdonwald (a Scottish nobleman) is particularly noticeable:

Quote: Act 1, Scene 2, Verse 20ff
Captain:

Till he faced the slave,
Which ne`er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseamed him from the nave to th`chaps
And fixed his head upon our battlements.

(He found no rest until he stood face to face with the traitor. He did not wish him a farewell, but instead directly saberbed his whole body. He had the traitor's head fastened to the walls of his camp.)

This behavior, aggressive towards the traitor and thus loyal to the king, is in stark contrast to his own behavior in the later course of the drama - he himself becomes a much worse traitor. This emphasizes his change, as well as the extent of the influence of the three witches and the evil on him. After all, Macbeth himself did not plan to become a traitor at this point.
Only with the appearance of the witches who take advantage of its weaknesses, this changes. Macbeth is influenceable. Especially he is open to all forms of the supernatural. With their prophecies, they abuse these qualities in order to penetrate one of his character traits: his excessive one ambition. They spark this ambition with their prophecies, which proclaim him the highest position in the social hierarchy. Because of his openness to this mystical world, Macbeth trusts the witches almost blindly, which is in contrast to Banquo's behavior. He doubts the statements of the witches and even warns against them:

Quote: act 1, scene 3, verse 122f
Banquo:

And often times, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths;

Macbeth's change in character had already begun at this point. He is obsessed with the idea of ​​becoming king.

Quote: act 1, scene 3, verse 116f
Macbeth (Aside):

Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor:
The greatest is behind.

Even at this point in time, Macbeth had first thoughts of murder:

Quote: act 1, scene 3, verse 133ff
Macbeth:

why do I yield to that suggestion,
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
Against the use of nature?

At this point the reader or viewer can also clearly see the Macbeth's change from good to bad detect. Macbeth was described as exclusively good at the beginning of the drama. The witches have initiated a change that expresses itself here through contradicting thoughts: On the one hand Macbeth has thoughts of murder, on the other hand he is deeply shocked by them.
You can also see that Macbeth is a strong imagination owns. On the one hand, on the quote already mentioned - the idea of ​​murder alone generates a strong physical reaction in him - on the other hand, on his directly following statement:

Quote: Act 1, Scene 3, Verse 136f
Macbeth:

Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings.

Another clue can be found in the monologue before Duncan's murder:

Quote: act 2, scene 1, verse 49ff
Macbeth:

Now or the one half-world
Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse
The curtained sleep.

His imagination is also expressed in the imaginary flying and bloody dagger (before Duncan's murder), as well as in the appearance of the ghost of Banquo.
Macbeth also shows another quality that is largely denied to the other characters in the drama: he is capable of self-reflectionto analyze his own actions. This becomes particularly clear in the monologue before his argument with Lady Macbeth. Here he is aware that he is planning the murder of Duncan and tries to question his own reasons. He concludes that his only motive for the murder is ambition.

Quote: Act 1, Scene 7, Verse 25ff
Macbeth:

I have no trace
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition which o`erleaps itself
And if on th`other

Macbeth is also notable for its Farsightedness out. Even before the murder, he weighs up the consequences and risks, which is in contrast to Lady Macbeth's behavior.

Quote: Act 1, Scene 7, Verse 1ff
Macbeth:

If it were done when `tis done, then` twere well
It were done quickly.
(...)
But in these cases,
We still have judgment here that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which being taught, return
To plague th`inventor.

Despite these characteristics, Macbeth can be convinced to commit the murder of Duncan. With that he comes across a fatal one Vicious circle at. Only his first murder of King Duncan served to achieve his real goal: the royal throne. All other murders were carried out to cover up the first one or to protect oneself. Again Macbeth understands this situation, but at the same time sees no alternative, because to go back seems just as hopeless to him.

Quote: Act 3, Scene 4, Verse 136ff
Macbeth:

I am in blood
Stepped so far that should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o`er.

With the increasing number of murder victims, Macbeth is becoming increasingly numb to violence and therefore also increasingly brutal. He reached his lowest point with the massacre of Macduff's defenseless family, which is not even a threat to him.
In parallel with the increasing number of crimes, however, his mood is also falling. Even if the further prophecies of the witches make him feel invincible, he still loses his courage to face life. It begins to grow from Duncan's murder isolate and he barely exchanges a word with his wife. After Lady Macbeth's death, he indignantly sums up:

Quote: act 5, scene 5, verse 23ff
Macbeth:

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

He feels betrayed by fate, like a plaything of the supernatural.

Quote: act 5, scene 5, verse 21f
Macbeth:

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.

At the end of the drama Macbeth longs for his own death:

Quote: act 5, scene 5, verse 22
Macbeth:

Out, out, letter candle

He finally realizes the ambiguity in the witches' prophecies and thus the diabolical that Banquo warned him about at the beginning of the play.

Quote: act 5, scene 5, verse 41f
Macbeth:

I pull in resolution and begin
To doubt the equivocation of the fiend
That lies like truth.

In the end, Macbeth dies roughly the death of a commander he was at the beginning of the drama: as a warrior in sword fight.
Macbeth's suggestibility, as well as his ambition and the resulting lust for power have ensured that he killed Duncan, although he was aware of the consequences of this act. With his crime against the divine order he has created chaos and tried to secure his power in this chaos through even more murders. His attempt failed and the punishment (or vengeance) he already feared the murder has indeed haunted him.
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