How is Macbeth presented in Act I of Shakespeare's Macbeth?

In the first act of Shakespeare's Macbeth, Macbeth falls from nobility and honor to weakness and treason. He is first portrayed as a brave hero, but as soon as the witches plant the thought in Macbeth's head that he might become king, he begins to plot. He resists his desires at first, but the more he thinks and plans, the more he gives in to his ambition. Finally, he makes the choice to betray and murder his king.

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During the first act of Shakespeare's Macbeth, the title character is presented both directly and through the eyes of others. We first meet Macbeth indirectly in scene 2 through the report of the Sergeant to Duncan and Malcolm. Macbeth is “brave,” and “Disdaining fortune,” has rushed upon the enemy Macdonwald and killed him. A bit later in the scene, we hear how Macbeth led the soldiers to victory. In this scene, Macbeth is presented as honorable to the highest degree, noble, loyal, courageous, and self-sacrificing.

We meet Macbeth directly for the first time in scene 3 as he travels with Banquo and encounters the three witches. The witches hail Macbeth by both his current title, thane of Glamis, and the title Duncan has just given him, thane of Cawdor. Macbeth does not yet know about this new honor. The witches also hail Macbeth as the future king. Ross and Angus enter shortly, confirming that Macbeth is indeed thane of Cawdor, and Macbeth's surprise soon turns to ambition. He likes the...

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 18, 2020
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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on October 28, 2019
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