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Macbeth is a deeply disturbing character and his actions disgust us. Yet he...

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dreilly10 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 23, 2009 at 8:59 AM via web

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Macbeth is a deeply disturbing character and his actions disgust us. Yet he also arouses our sympathy. Do you agree?

Macbeth is a deeply disturbing character and his actions disgust us. Yet he also arouses our sympathy. Do you agree?

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted February 23, 2009 at 10:31 AM (Answer #2)

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Macbeth is a deeply disturbing character, and his actions certainly are disgusting. Firstly, he kills the reigning monarch, Duncan, in order to usurp his throne, and from there, horrors follow upon horrors. Banquo is murdered, and his son, Fleance, only narrowly escapes. Macduff's family are put to the knife. On the battlefield, Macbeth kills more people before he himself is killed. By the end of the play, it seems more than plausible for Macbeth to say

I have supp'd full with horrors.

We, like him, can almost not cope with any further horrors.

Yet - and this is the point - though he is a murderer, a child-killer, a "dead butcher" as he is called at the end of the play, Macbeth remains entirely human and sympathetic. Why is this? Because, though he is a worthy and violent soldier on the battlefield, he reacts to having committed murder just like you or I might do. He panics, he leaves the daggers in the wrong place, he bungles the plan.

He suffers - "full of scorpions is my mind", he tells Lady M - for what he has done. He cannot sleep. The reason he's sympathetic, though we do not morally approve of him, is because he reacts just as you or I might do. We know he's a murderer. But he also never seems less than a real human being. And so, when he talks to us as the audience, it's difficult - though we don't approve - not to understand.

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 24, 2009 at 8:13 AM (Answer #3)

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Yes.  He is like most of us who have ambitions and goals.  Although most people are not willing to kill to get there, it was not entirely his fault.  Yes, he agreed to his wife's hair-brained schemes, but we love that he is so in love with her that he doesn't want to let her down.  We want him to succeed in becoming King because at first he is a regular Joe, a good guy, someone with honor and who stands up for the right in the world.  Had he not been plagued by witches, prophecies, and his wife's evil plans, he might have ended up dying an honorable death with lots of grandkids and great-grandkids weeping aat his gravesite.

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