Macbeth Character Development

Describe Macbeth's character development.

Expert Answers
edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

From the outset of the play Macbeth is ambitious; his zeal in defending king and country is praised by the injured captain, who describes the courageous and bloody killing of the traitor, Macdonwald. He is happy to receive an additional title from Duncan. The first encounter with the Weird Sisters turns his ambition in a new direction as he quickly comes to the conclusion he must remove any obstacle that would prevent him from attaining the throne of Scotland.

Even so, his wife's plan to kill Duncan unsettles him, and he briefly considers backing out of their planned regicide. This scene, however, marks the end of Macbeth's loyalty to Scotland and his king and the end of his morality.  Once Duncan and his chamberlains are dead, Macbeth's ambition continues to grow unchecked. Acting independently of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth seems to have no reservations about arranging the deaths of Banquo, Lady Macduff, and Macduff's family. He attempts to have Fleance killed as well because he fears that Fleance could one day interrupt his reign. It could be said that once he has killed Duncan, Macbeth's ambition is forever wed to ruthlessness and an intensified drive to remain king.  

The death of Lady Macbeth does little to alter Macbeth's trajectory. He kills Young Siward and plans to kill Macduff, as well, in his attempt to remain in power.  Macbeth's ambitiousness follows him to his final moments; he tells Macduff he will neither yield nor fall on his sword. Among his finals words, he proclaims, "I will try the last."