How does Macbeth's character change throughout the course of the play?

Macbeth’s character changes a great deal over the course of the play. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a respected Thane who has shown great loyalty to King Duncan. Soon after, Macbeth succumbs to ambition and, encouraged by a prophecy and Lady Macbeth, murders King Duncan to take his throne. This betrayal throws Macbeth into a state of guilt and fear, prompting him to murder again and again to satisfy his paranoia. By the end of the play, he has become an evil tyrant and is rightfully deposed and killed for his crimes.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I believe that Macbeth's character change is too extreme. From being a loyal subject and essentially a good man, he becomes a terrible tyrant, and in the end he is behaving like a madman. It was not logically necessary for Macbeth to turn into such a hateful tyrant just because he committed a murder to become king. Shakespeare made him a tyrant to justify the military intervention of the English monarch. As Ross describes Scotland in Act 4, Scene 3:

Alas, poor country,
Almost afraid to know itself! It cannot
Be call'd our mother, but our grave. Where nothing,
But who knows nothing, is once seen to smile;
Where sighs and groans and shrieks that rend the air,
Are made, not mark'd; where violent sorrow seems
A modern ecstasy. The dead man's knell
Is there scarce ask'd for who, and good men's lives
Expire before the flowers in their caps,
Dying or ere they sicken.

The English king cannot tolerate this state of affairs. He is not interested in Scottish politics and would not raise an army to place

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 868 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Posted on

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on