'Shakespeare's play, "Macbeth," presents the audience with many moments of despair contrasted with few moments of hope' Discuss, with reference to text.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Macbeth, the audience is immediately introduced to the unnatural world as "Fair is foul and foul is fair," (I.i.10) which are the words of one of the witches as the thunder and lightning pervade the first scene. This serves as a warning of what to expect as the play progresses, foreshadowing events. Much of the hope expressed in Macbeth has negative connotations because it is, except for Banquo's hopes for the future of his sons as kings, a hope for undeserved power and influence. Lady Macbeth is hopeful of Macbeth acceding the throne, to the point that she is prepared for the spirits to "unsex me here;" (I.v.38) in other words, she wants to be sure not to reveal any perceived womanly weakness. Macbeth's own hopes are reflected in his "vaulting ambition." (I.vii.27)

It is their hopes and aspirations that ultimately lead to tragedy.The hopes then give way to despair as Macbeth does not include Lady Macbeth in his scheming after Duncan's death and she begins to feel enormous guilt as she recognizes Macbeth's drive to destroy everything in his path. Her guilt will lead to her eventual madness as she despairs and is unable to remove the "spot" during her outburst. Her famous words are "Out, damned spot! Out."(V.i.33)

In Act V, scene iii, Macbeth is hopeful as he prepares for battle, confident that her cannot be beaten by a man "born of woman." (4)Such is his conviction that he even says, "The mind...and the heart...Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear." (9-10) Shortly thereafter, he learns of Lady Macbeth's death and his despair is most evident when he says, "Life's but a walking shadow....a tale, Told by an idiot....Signifying nothing."(V.v.24-28) He soon regains his composure but is beginning to realize that he may have been fooled by the witches who tell "lies like truth."(44) Nonetheless, he feels comforted that he will "die with harness on our back." (52) Macbeth's refusal to "yield" ultimately seals his fate. 

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