What was Macbeth's progress in the play?

Expert Answers
jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not so sure "progress" is the right word to use when describing Macbeth's development through the play that bears his name. For if progress is thought of as movement toward a goal or toward some advancement or as positive personal growth, then that term really can't be used to delineate him.

Do you see any of the following as progress?:

Macbeth goes from respected warrior to vicious, serial killer.

Macbeth goes from a man loved and honored by his kind and honorable King to that same King's murderer.

Macbeth goes from a good friend of Banquo to Banquo's murderer and one who also tries to kill Banquo's young son.

Macbeth goes from being a free man to one who cannot sleep, is afraid of being killed, and one who is plagued by fear and guilt and ghosts. He becomes a man whose mind, in his own words, is "full of scorpions."

Macbeth goes from being a married man (it's hard to tell if he was happily married, but he may well have loved his wife) to a man whose wife commits suicide.

And, lastly, Macbeth becomes King of Scotland and ends up terribly depressed about his life and is then killed in war for being a tyrant.

Such is the "progress" of Macbeth.