In Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, what are the similarities and differences between Romeo and Macbeth?
The leading male characters in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth have similarities and differences.
Romeo and Macbeth are similar in the focus each has to achieve his heart's desire. Romeo loves Juliet, and life without her is something he can't imagine. Macbeth wants to be king and will do what it takes to make it happen. Both men are devoted to the women in their lives: Macbeth from the start, and Romeo "falls" in Act One, scene five. They both try to amke each woman happy. Juliet wants love; Lady Macbeth wants power. Both men are admired. In Macbeth, (at the outset) Duncan's sergeant praises Macbeth's might in battle, saying that he fought the traitor Macdonwald who had reinforcements (Irish soldiers), fought his way through them to face the enemy, and killed him. Duncan (King of Scotland) praises his friend and cousin, Macbeth.
Doubtful it stood,
As two spent swimmers that do cling together
And choke their art. The merciless Macdonwald—
Worthy to be a rebel…from the western isles
Of kerns and gallowglasses is supplied;
…but all's too weak;
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—
Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel,
…Like valor's minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave…
Till he unseam'd him from the nave to the chaps…
O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman! (I.ii.9-26)
When Romeo "crashes" Capulet's party (and he is unwelcome, as a Montague), Tybalt wants to throw him out, but Capulet stops him, saying that he seems a decent man who is well-liked—that Typbalt should leave him alone.
Uncle, this is a Montague, our foe;
A villain, that is hither come in spite
To scorn at our solemnity this night.
Young Romeo is it?...
...Content thee, gentle coz, let him alone.
He bears him like a portly gentleman,
And, to say truth, Verona brags of him
To be a virtuous and well-govern'd youth. (I.v.63-71)
Romeo and Macbeth are very different, and in this regard, we see the goodness of Romeo and the evil rooted out in Macbeth.
Romeo is inexperienced. At first, he's infatuated with Rosaline and laments her disinterest. He is naive. On the other hand, Macbeth's only softness is shown in Act One, scene five, where he greets his wife in a letter as: “…my dearest partner of greatness..." (9-10). Later he calls her: My dearest love... (61). The next time the couple speaks, there is no love expressed. She insults him—his manhood, and his bravery; she tries her best to emasculate him so he will kill the king (making her queen), and he crumbles. Macbeth, a valiant warrior, allows her words to drive him to murder because his ambition is so great.
Macbeth is a fighter, and soon kills many people. Romeo is not a fighter at all. He is not involved in the feud between the Capulets and Montagues. He tries to interfere when Tybalt and Mercutio fight—and only lifts a sword to avenge Mercutio's death—carried out unethically by Tybalt.
Romeo falls in love with Juliet, and his life is changed forever. She is the center of his universe:
…But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?
It is the East, and Juliet is the sun! (II.ii.2-3)
However, Macbeth admits that his ambition drives him to evil—for him, taking the throne means everything:
…I have no spur(25)
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition... (I.vii.25-27)
Romeo and Macbeth are vaguely similar and very different.