Is Macbeth a weak man or an evil one? Discuss.
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Throughout the first two acts. Macbeth seems to be a man wrestling not only with his conscience, but also with some force of evil outside himself. Even by the end of act 2 is it impossible to decide whether he is a weak man or one who has genuinely surrendered himself to evil... discuss.
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Shakespeare seemed to want to avoid creating a conventional villain who was purely evil and unscrupulous like his Richard III. He hoped to have his audience feel come degree of sympathy for Macbeth so that they would experience some degree of pity for his misfortunes and his downfall. This seems to be the only explanation for distributing some of the blame for Macbeth's murder of King Duncan among himself, his ambitious and manipulative wife, and the three witches. Shakespeare may not have intended to make Macbeth seem weak, but many readers and viewers end up with the impression that Macbeth is not only weak but henpecked and uxorious. He does not make a good king because he does not have the intelligence or strength to exercise independent judgment, like Henry V and Henry VIII for example. He is always asking for advice and assurance--and then when he starts trying to act on his own judgment he makes such a mess of things that everybody hates him. I doubt whether anybody feels sorry for him when Maduff cuts his head off.
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