In Shakespeare's Macbeth, describe some of the emotions Macbeth exhibits. 

1 Answer | Add Yours

booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth shows several emotions: he is proud, ambitious, frightened, murderous and even resigned.

When Lady Macbeth insists that Macbeth kill Duncan, she insults his manhood, calling him a coward. He insists this is not true (and we know he has proven himself in battle). He tells his wife to be quiet, that he is as much a man as anyone else:

Prithee, peace!

I dare do all that may become a man;

Who dares do more is none. (I.vii.50-52)

Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan; Macbeth notes that he has no worthwhile reason to do so, only an overwhelming ambition to have power:

I have no spur

To prick the sides of my intent, but only

Vaulting ambition (25-57)

When the witches deliver their predictions, Macbeth immediately becomes the Thane of Cawdor. If this has come true as the witches said, he wonders why he is so afraid of imagining the possibility of their prediction that he will be King one day. We can infer that he is fearful because Duncan would have to die for this to happen. The thought of such a thing, or perhaps that he might be involved, causes him paralyzing fear:

If good, 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? (I.iii.145-148)

Macbeth changes drastically throughout the play. While he is a valiant warrior and dedicated subject, he becomes a murderous villain. Macbeth notes that after a point he has become so burdened by the death of so many, that the guilt that lies upon him cannot be turned away. He is too far gone to try to change. And this is vividly portrayed when the witches warn Macbeth to be wary of Macduff. Just to be sure, he sends his henchmen to murder Macduff. Finding him gone, they murder his entire family (including his children) and their servants. Macduff's cousin, Ross, reports what has happened, and that Macduff was their true target:

Your castle is surprised; your wife and babes

Savagely slaughter'd. To relate the manner

Were, on the quarry of these murder'd deer,

To add the death of you. (IV.iii.25-238)

By the play's end, Macbeth realizes that the witches have tricked him. He does not want to fight Macduff, who approaches to avenge his family. However, if nothing else, Macbeth chooses to die bravely, rather than take the coward's way out, and resigns himself to do battle with Macduff, when Macduff will not leave him, as Macbeth has asked:

Yet I will try the last. Before my body

I throw my warlike shield! Lay on, Macduff,

And damn'd be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!” (V.viii.37-39)

Macbeth starts out as an admirable man; by the play's end, he is a murderous tyrant. When he is defeated, Scotland's throne returns to Duncan's son, Malcolm.


We’ve answered 317,960 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question