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.
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
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
D. Discovery of Duncan’s body
1. Macbeth’s reaction
2. Duncan’s sons
3. Macbeth named as king
VIII. Decisions made as King
1. Fear of prophecy
2. Hires Murderers
1. Reaction to Murderers
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
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
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
(The entire section is 1614 words.)
Whose Ambition is the Driving Force of the Play—Macbeth’s, Lady Macbeth’s, or Both?
One could justifiably describe Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as catalysts for one another, particularly concerning ambition. For example, in Act I, Scene V, Lady Macbeth asserts that Macbeth is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness” to ascend to the throne (Act I, Scene V). This serves as a challenge to Macbeth’s cunning, his ruthlessness, and his masculinity. After she succeeds in chastising him for his perceived impotence, she successfully ignites Macbeth’s own aspirations.
Once Lady Macbeth successfully galvanizes her husband into action, she instructs him that he simply needs to feign innocence, and leave the Machiavellian schemes to her (Act I, Scene V). From these interactions, we begin to see the relationship dynamic unfold. Lady Macbeth clearly stands out as the dominant partner. Indeed, the entire plot revolves around her guilefulness and the ways in which it influences Macbeth.
Not only does Lady Macbeth concoct the regicidal plot, but she also continuously puts it into motion, even when doubts begin to bedevil her husband. Each time he hesitates, she berates him mercilessly, until he once again engages with her in planning the murder. We see this in Act I Scene VII, when Lady Macbeth bluntly asks if Macbeth’s monarchial ambitions are merely a dream, brought on by drunkenness. She chidingly inquires, “Was the hope drunk wherein you dress’d yourself?” Again, we see Lady Macbeth’s recurring strategy of appealing to her husband’s sense of honor, in order to accomplish her nefarious ends. Ultimately, she brings them both to ruin, and their regal ambitions come to naught.
Shakespeare, W., & Bevington, D. (2013). The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Seventh ed., p. 2016). London: Longman.
Crystal, D., & Crystal, B. (2002). Shakespeare’s words: A glossary and language companion (p. 676). New York, New York: Puffin Books.
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What Is the Difference Between Macbeth’s and Malcolm’s Ambitions?
Undoubtedly, Shakespeare is one of the most influential authors not only for England but also for the entire history of literary creation. The social themes that he raises in his works are penetrating the net of human intentions, feelings, and desires. The interweaving of human courage, cowardice, greed, thirst for power, love, vanity, deceit, loyalty, ambitions on the pages of his works permeate through the ages and make hundreds of readers discover the depths of human nature. One of the most brilliant and well-known plays of the great English poet and playwright is The Tragedy of Macbeth, which is based on the real history of King of Scotland of the XI century and reveals the risks and consequences of the insurmountable desire of the power and betrayal of the closest people. Considering the ambitions of Macbeth and Malcolm, we will see that they originate from very different motives, intentions, and aspirations.
The period described by Shakespeare implies belief in the divine origin of power, the concept of serving God, which extended to the entire feudal system, including the ministry and faithfulness of the vassal (Thane) to the king. Betrayal was considered one of the most serious sins that violated the foundations of the knight’s code. The tasks of the king before their subjects have always been to ensure stability, peace, and tranquility. To achieve these goals, he should not be a merely good person but also should show his strength, courage, and devotion to his people. Without such qualities he may not be worthy of respect of his subjects. Besides the royal power and the struggle for it quite often provided examples for rampant violence and distrust.
Macbeth’s character is not merely a negative hero betraying for a useful purpose. Several forces are acting on him which show the development of its ambitious plans and at the end dispersion of the soul. The decisions that he makes in the gusts, doubts, reproaches of conscience pursue him by forming multiple complexes of emotions. Initially, the author presents Macbeth as a fearless and brave warrior, a general of the royal army, suppressing the uprising against his monarch Duncan. Glory is always a harbinger and a possible source of vanity. Macbeth meets witches and receives prophecies, one of which says that he will become king of Scotland. After this starting point, when destiny seduces the general “Macbeth has begun to hear another language – the language of magic, bad magic, of murder, specifically one great act of murder, regicide, the killing of the king, in Shakespeare that cataclysmic act, that crime against the state, against the soul and against the self” (McGuinness, Frank). Lady Macbeth tempts the central figure of narrative to awaken in it a whirlwind of ambition that pushes him to conquer fate as quickly as possible by going to a grave sin, murder, and betrayal. Afterwards Lady Macbeth, through her own mercenary goals, to become a queen, can not withstand the onslaught of conscience, feelings, goes mad and leaves this world.
Ambitions can both hurt people by turning them from the right path and give them strength to achieve noble goals. “Treasonous ambition in Macbeth collides with loyalty and patriotism in Macduff and Malcolm: here is the outward conflict” (Bradley 13). Malcolm is Duncan’s eldest son and the legitimate heir to the throne. After the death of the king, he and his brother Donalbain flee Scotland fear for their lives. Malcolm is quite young, but such an impression does not develop. He shows restraint and prudence. A legal heir with a profound sense of empathy experiences events in Scotland when he says such words: “I think our country sinks beneath the yoke / It weeps, it bleeds; and each new day a gash / Is added to her wounds” (“Macbeth: Entire Play”). He shows his caution when he decides to check Than of Fife Mcduff’s loyalty, but receives a response that he “would not be the villain that thou think’st / For the whole space that’s in the tyrant’s grasp, / And the rich East to boot” (“Macbeth: Entire Play”). Although Macduff is faithful to the legitimate heir to the throne, yet Malcolm manifests wisdom. He deceives Macduff and makes him believe that he is twice more sinful than Macbeth. And only when he sees that Macduff, like himself, desires Scotland, a moral, respectable and worthy king who will rightly rule his heart, incite him to take revenge for the death of the family and the battle against tyranny.
In conclusion, Macbeth represented the character who has gone from noble, brave general, minister of the crown to the traitor and paid for this life. Malcolm took the throne as a legitimate heir. The difference is that the ambitions of Macbeth and Malcolm took a source for different motives. In Macbeth, they were fed up with their desire to conquer fate and reach the goal, despite the bloody consequences. Having succumbed to the temptation of prophecy, covered with a thirst for power, Macbeth feeling guilty and watching the effects did not withstand pressure and brought himself to great mental distress, physical and psychological deterioration. In Malcolm, despite his age, the ambitions came from patriotism, real pain for his country subjected to tyranny, the desire to exercise justice and to make up for the death of his father.
Bradley, Andrew C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures On Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. 3rd ed., Basingstoke, Macmillan Education, 1992.
McGuinness, Frank. “Madness And Magic: Shakespeare’s Macbeth.” Irish University Review, vol 45, no. 1, 2015, pp. 69-80.
“Macbeth: Entire Play.” Shakespeare.Mit.Edu, 2017, http://shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/full.html.