Macbeth: a character sketch of Macbeth from a gallant general to a tyrant king?It is a kind of character analysis of Macbeth, the protagonist of the play.

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The protagonist in Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth changes from a gallant general to a tyrannical king.

Macbeth, at the opening of the play, is revered for his heroism and loyalty to King Duncan. Based upon his good behavior, heroic acts, and loyalty, King Duncan awards Macbeth the title of the Thane of Cawdor (the former thane being charged and found guilty of treason).

After the witches call Macbeth king, he begins to wonder about the truth behind the prophecies. Banquo even questions his fears based upon the fact that everything sounds so good.

When first discussing the murder of Duncan with his wife, Macbeth states that he would like to feel the new title (Cawdor) prior to taking on the role of king. She, Lady Macbeth, is the one who pushes him to take the throne.

Macbeth, therefore, does not become a tyrant until he has tasted blood. He knows that Banquo threatens the throne, as well as Malcolm and Macduff. His tyranny begins with the murders of Banquo and Macduff's family.

In the end, one can see that Macbeth begins to soften. The soliloquy he makes after finding out about his wife's death and the stating that he has already taken the lives of Macduff's family (and does not wish to take his as well) shows a different side to the blood-stained king.

For Macbeth, the promise of power was too much. He could not allow "chance to crown" him. He had to take it and continue to protect it. This was his downfall.

giller84 | Student

Hence why the play is titled, Macbeth.  Shakespeare's tragedy is an in depth study of how power corrupts.  Our protagonists enters the story a lauded hero, and exits a despised tyrant.  So what happens in between that causes him to change?  This is what the story is really about.  

Macbeth is first introduced with great acclaim, a hero of the battlefield who earned the respect of a king.  He is given a new title, bragged about, the king even plans to visit him.  But then his character takes a detour prompted by three witches.  It is here that poor Macbeth is first cursed with a flaw that will lead to his demise, ambition.  The witches hang it around his neck as soon as he enters;

"Hail Macbeth!"

"All Hail Macbeth!"

"Macbeth hail!"

Their prediction of his future rule fills Macbeth with ambition.  A terrible ambition shared by his wife, Lady Macbeth, and it ultimately prompts him to commit murder.  Once the deed is done, the rest is silence.  From that moment on his character is forever changed, and we as the audience can only sit and watch as he unravels.  In many ways Macbeth is a tragic hero, like the ones you find in Ancient Greek tragedies.  He is a respected hero, afflicted with a character flaw, that ultimately destroys him.  Once he kills Duncan his ambition only increases.  He does what all tyrants do when they acquire power, he abuses it.  He mistreats his people, spreads dissension, becomes obsessed with gaining more power, and grows so paranoid that he begins attacking his friends.  By the end of the play he is not the same person.  It is almost as if the hero we met at the beginning was killed along with Duncan.

Correlations can be made to real world events.  Richard Nixon for instance.  Nixon was an accomplished president, but he grew paranoid that he might lose his next election.  So he began taping conversations, created a slush fund, and eventually when the truth was found out he had to resign.  The lead singer of the La's, a very successful band, became so obsessive and controlling that he destroyed his career.  His band only released one album.  Power corrupts, it changes people, it makes them do things even they never realized they were capable of.  Such is the story of Macbeth.  Shakespeare shows us that even a good man can become a tyrant.  Demonstrating the shocking truth that maybe all tyrants were once good men.

By the end of the story, a new hero has arrived.  When Macduff beheads Macbeth he proclaims that his reign of tyranny is over.  We find ourselves back at the beginning, with a valient hero making a name for himself in a decisive battle.  So does that mean that Macduff will bear the same fate?

amitsingh11582 | Student

Macbeth, a tragedy by Shakespeare is not only a play only for performance but it has depicted some nautral instict of human being.

A gallant genral become tyrant, it is not easy but the circumstances moves him lot and more so ever the company of his wife lady macbeth made him so. Undoubtedly he was a great general and he did lot of things to improve the reputation on his king, He won the battles on behalf of his king and get rewared also by the king. But... O God..... vulnurablity and superstition of man kind that prediction of three bitches diverted his mind, and a spark lit in the mind of Mecbeth. And this spark further aired by Lady mecbeth. She inspired him so much to murder the king and get the throne.Though he find himself fail to murder his king his wife did it. 

So if we minutely observe we find that he was not guilty but it was the ambition of lady mecbeth which causes the disaster in the life of mecbeth.