The Student Room Group

Can someone correct my Macbeth essay

Explain how Shakespeare presents Macbeth through the play

Introduction: At the beginning of the play "Macbeth", Shakespeare presents the character of Macbeth as a brave and honorable warrior, highly respected by King Duncan which led the Jackbeans to place him on a pedestal because he was seen as the archetypal man. Ironically, throughout the play, Shakespeare shows how Macbeth ends up being a traitor who kills to achieve power due to his uncontrolled ambition which directs him to his downfall and guilt-ridden insanity, his hamartia is his ambition. Shakespeare wrote the play "Macbeth" in 1606 during the Jacobean era, to pay homage to King James' Scottish lineage as he was the patron of his acting company. Shakespeare's main purpose of the play is to warn his Jacobean audience about the idea of disrupting the natural order of God which was a concept that was prevalent in Shakespeare's time, after the Gunpower Plot - the conspiracy of a group of Catholics to blow up Parliament in 1605. During the Jacobean era, this idea of disrupting God's natural order was known as "The Great Chain of Being" where God created a social order for everybody and chose where they belonged. This meant that the king or queen was in charge because they were appointed by God this is called the Divine Rights of Kings, so committing regicide (murder of a king) was a crime against God himself. Therefore, Shakespeare wants to show that those who try to upset God's natural order and step up from their given position by committing regicide or communicating with the supernaturals who were believed to be servants of the devil by the Jacobeans, will face harsh consequences that will bring chaos and turmoil to society. Also, Shakespeare's message throughout the play is that unchecked "vaulting ambition" can guide an individual to engage in crimes such as regicide that will lead to their downfall. Therefore Shakespeare uses Macbeth as a tool to convey his message about the danger of vaulting ambition. The play suggests that ambition is like a double-edged sword, as it can lead an individual to achieve greater things but also lead them to take reckless risks and face dire consequences.

Paragraph1 (quote that show Macbeth is presented as brave)
At the beginning of the play in Act 1, Scene 2, Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a brave hero figure more specifically a stereotypical ideal warrior when the Captain reveals how Macbeth fought courageously in the battle against King Duncan. We know this when Shakespeare uses an adjective and a parenthetical to describe Macbeth: " brave Macbeth-well he deserved that name". Shakespeare is suggesting Macbeth is the archetypal soldier, this is reinforced by the adjective " brave" because it paints a picture of Macbeth being dominant and strong. Also, this implies Shakespeare wants to show how Macbeth fulfills the expectations of masculinity as Jacobeans believed a man should be strong and brave with little emotion. The quote also suggests that Shakespeare wants to raise curiosity and build up expectations before Macbeth's full appearance to set him in an elevated position. Specifically the parenthetical “well he deserves that name”*reinforces the Sergeant's opinion that to be called a hero, his nobleman must be someone who the Jacobean audience should admire because of his qualities and not just his rank. This is not a one-sided opinion because King Ducan also praises Macbeth's bravery in Act 1 Scene 4 stating that Macbeth is "valiant' and "worthy".This means Macbeth's title is not self-proclaimed therefore he deserves the praises given to him. Shakespeare's purpose of the Sergeant's speech could be that it sets Macbeth up to become the ‘tragic hero’ of the play, who we could later get to see in the play. All tragic heroes have to start at the top so that they can fall and in this case driven by 'vaulting ambition'. Overall Shakespeare, through Macbeth's initial heroic portrayal, warns the audience about the dangers of unchecked ambition. Shakespeare criticizes the destructive nature of unrestrained ambition, aiming to caution the audience against the possible consequences of going against God's natural order.

Paragraph 2 (quote that show Macbeth is presented as violent)
Additionally, in Act 1 Scene 2, Shakespeare uses violent imagery to present Macbeth as dangerous and violent to show again that he is the archetypal man and to establish his prowess and martial capabilities. We see this when the Captain reports to King Duncan that Macbeth has just killed their rival Macdonwald, in battle: "unseam' d him from the nave to the chaps". This violent imagery by Shakespeare suggests Macbeth has committed a brutal act because he has literally "unseamed" Macdonwald, meaning that he has sliced him open to indicate how ruthless he is. Also, this shows, that Shakespeare is using violence to demonstrate Macbeth's strength and to show his loyalty to King Duncan by being a hero figure to him and the Jacobeans. However, the word ‘seam’ is a homophone and could also hint at the deception that will follow:*it might ‘seem’ as if Macbeth will be loyal, but the opposite turns out to be the case. This refers back to the oxymoron in Act 1 Scene 1: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair." - This means that things are not always what they seem and that good can sometimes be bad and vice versa. In the case of Macbeth's statement, it emphasizes the gruesome of his actions, which may not have been immediately apparent to his audience. Specifically, the sentence " nave to the chops' *implies that his sword enters at the navel and is drawn upwards to the jaws. Again this shows how brutal and strong Macbeth is. We see that Shakespeare uses this graphical and violent image to emphasize the barbarity of Macbeth's actions and foreshadows the bloodshed and violence that will continue throughout the play, which links further to the quote from Act 3 Scene 4 ": "It will have blood, they say; blood will have blood".This is because it foreshadows the idea that the violence and bloodshed of Macbeth's actions will have consequences that will continue to play out throughout the rest of the play. Q, Shakespeare's presentation of Macbeth as a fearsome yet noble warrior evokes both admiration and apprehension from the Jacobean audience. Macbeth's ruthless defense of King Ducan highlights his strength, but his unchecked ambition introduces a dual perception of his character as this reveals that he has a ruthless streak. Shakespeare aims to evoke mixed feelings in the Jacobean audience, encouraging them to like and fear Macbeth simultaneously. This serves as a tale, warning about the consequences of vaulting ambition and the consequences of disrupting God's natural order. Through Macbeth's loyalty and subsequent downfall, Shakespeare emphasizes the importance of maintaining societal order and following 'The Great Chain of Being" so that society doesn't fall into chaos.

Paragraph 3 (a quote that shows Macbeth is hubristic but also foolish but also shows the witch's nature)
in Act 1, Scene 3, Shakespeare also presents Macbeth as a hubristic character who foolishly falls into the witch's trap when Macbeth uses a violent tone to command the witches to speak up and to continue talking about his fate and the prophesies We see this when Shakespeare uses an imperative to indicate Macbeth is trying to assert control over the witches: "Stay you, imperfect speakers, tell me more". This quote suggests Shakespeare wants to show how Macbeth tries to gain power over the witches who have caught his interest about the prophecies they have told him because he says "imperfect speakers" suggesting the prophecies they are giving are half-formed and incomplete and therefore he commanded them to tell.
Also, Shakespeare's use of the adjective "imperfect " implies that Macbeth describes the witches as something not properly formed, sinful, and broken and therefore should be avoided. This is because in the Jacobeans the witches were believed to be deceptive and dangerous servants of Satan. However, the imperative verb "stay" specifically suggests Shakespeare is showing how Macbeth confidently forcefully commands the witches to remain with him to tell him more about his fate even though he knows that communicating with the supernaturals is a sin and against society. Additionally, the verb "stay" signifies Macbeth's desperation and eagerness to know more about his future maybe indicating his desire to become King. Furthermore, a quote that could further explain this line is spoken by Banquo in the same scene: 'Looks not like the inhabitants of the earth and yet is on it?", Shaskeslete uses this question of Banquo to show how he highlights the witch's mysterious and strange nature while Macbeth's request for them to "tell me more" and "stay", reveals Macbeth eagerness to learn about his future despite the potential risks. Therefore, both quotes present Macbeth as a foolish and gullible character as he knows that the witches are too avoite as they try to cause chaos and bring evilness, but he doesn't back off from them allowing himself to get persuaded by them. Overall, Shakespeare utilizes Macbeth's foolish actions to serve a dual purpose: a cautionary warning about unchecked ambition that can lead to crimes and downfalls, and an emotional response from the Jacobean audience. Through Macbeth's tragic descent driven by his "vaulting ambition" and blind faith in the witches' prophecies, Shakespeare aims to instill worry among the audience. The Jacobean fear of witches is palpable, as evidenced by King James's "Demonology," book in 1597- engaging with witches is deemed disruptive to God's natural order and punishable by death. This tension prompts the audience to both empathize with Macbeth's perilous journey and harbor a sense of disdain for his choices.

Paragraph 4 (a quote that presents him as conflicted and belongs to the theme of ambition)
In Act One Scene 3 Shakespeare presents Macbeth as an ambivalent character. He reveals how Macbeth is conflicted about the witches' prophecies. While he is intrigued by the idea of becoming king, he is torn between his ambition and moral compass. Shakespeare, tells his Jacobean readers that Macbeth grapples with the internal conflict of whether to let fate unfold naturally so that he doesn't disrupt God's natural order or to take proactive, potentially immoral actions by letting his ambition for power push him. We see this when Shakespeare uses personification to show that Macbeth admits ambition takes over him as he questions himself because of the witch's prophecies, "Make my seated heart knock at my ribs/against the use of nature?". This personification suggests a heightened emotional experience within Macbeth, as if the "heart" has a will of its own, reacting strongly against something that goes against the natural order. Also, the phrase "seated heart" implies a calm or settled state, and the idea of it knocking against the ribs conveys a sense of inner conflict or agitation within Macbeth. However, specifically the phrase "against the use of nature" suggests a struggle for the natural order of things. Therefore Shakespeare is hinting at a desire or challenge that distrupes The Great Chain of Beings. Also, Shakespeare is showing that Macbeth admits his ambition is taking over when he is conflicted because the phrase "knock at my ribs" implies that through a forceful knocking his previously calm demeanor is disrupted by the relentless influence of ambition. He wants to make the witch's prophecy true but he is worried about going against his moral compasses creating conflict within him. This whole links further to Act Five, Scene 5 when Macbeth says ""Life's but a walking shadow."Shakespeare shows Macbeth is struggling with the fallout of his unchecked ambition, showing how it's taking a toll on his sense of purpose and fulfillment just like here in Act 1 Scene 3. These moments highlight the ongoing theme of Macbeth's inner conflict and the consequences of his ambitious actions throughout the whole play Overall Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a conflicted character with a vaulting ambition to his Jacobean audience with beliefs in the divine right of kings to challenge the audience's worldview, evoking a mix of fascination and fear. This links back to Shakespeare's purpose of the play because it explores the consequences of unchecked "vaulting ambition" and moral dilemmas, engaging the Jacobean audience in reflection on the dangers of ambition and societal disruption and warning them about it.

Paragraph 5 ( a quote showing how Macbeth's ambition leads him into darkness and Evil , theme of ambtion and fate)

In Act One Scene 4 , Shakespeare presents Macbeth as someone consumed by ambition that leads him into darkness and evil. We see this when Shakespeare uses a personification in Macbeth's soliloquy after he has been named Thane of Cawdo: "Stars, hide your fires:/ let not light see my black and deep desires".
Through this personification, Shakespeare is suggesting that Macbeth wants to keep his dark and evil to become King even if regicide is necessary, hidden from others right after he starts to believe the witches' prophecies are true. This is because he metaphorically asks the 'stars' to hide their 'light' which means he wants fate to hide his truths symbolizing his desire to conceal his wicked intentions. This showcases the extent of his ambition and his willingness to go against moral boundaries. Also, The personification of the "stars" emphasizes Macbeth's desire to keep his evil desires hidden from God because it has connotations with "light" meaning Macbeth doesn't want God's judgment and face the consequences of his actions. Specifically, Shakespeare's use of the word 'black" suggests that Macbeth's desire to kill King Ducan and become King is wicked and morally evil as it is 'deep' emphasizing the extent to which Macbeth's ambition consumes him and leads him to his tragedy. Through this Shakespeare demonstrates how Macbeth recognizes that what he is doing is wrong. He knows he is committing a wrong act against the king who has placed so much trust in him therefore he is going against the Divine Rights of Kings.
.However, this guilt is not enough to dissuade him from his path. Instead, he prays for the darkness that will match his desires. Overall Shakespeare's portrayal of Macbeth's ambition leading him into darkness and evil would likely create discomfort and concern among the Jacobean audience due to their strong belief in the Divine Right of Kings. The audience might feel uneasy witnessing Macbeth defy moral boundaries and contemplate regicide. Shakespeare's purpose in depicting Macbeth in darkness could be to caution against unchecked vaulting ambition as it can lead to moral consequences. By aligning Macbeth's internal struggle with Jacobean values, Shakespeare engages the audience in reflection on the dangers of pursuing power at any cost and how it can lead to downfalls.
I don't know but this seems to be a good essay. However, I think that it is a bit too long to write in 40 minutes.
Reply 2
Original post by Day_light
I don't know but this seems to be a good essay. However, I think that it is a bit too long to write in 40 minutes.

Yeah lol but I'm a fasr writer
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 3
I think you could even write half of that and still get a Grade 9. However, I would recommend maybe using a tad more context as your essay is heavy with analysis which is what is weighed the most but it would be silly to throw out easy marks. Like for example, you could elaborate on the Divine Right of Kings. Other than that it hit the authors intention points and how meaning is conveyed!
Reply 4
Original post by mokshvi
I think you could even write half of that and still get a Grade 9. However, I would recommend maybe using a tad more context as your essay is heavy with analysis which is what is weighed the most but it would be silly to throw out easy marks. Like for example, you could elaborate on the Divine Right of Kings. Other than that it hit the authors intention points and how meaning is conveyed!

Thanks you

Quick Reply