The Tragedy of Macbeth

Analysis of the play

Who caused the downfall of the great, brave Macbeth?

Lady Macbeth, the supposed true love of Macbeth himself, could very well be the reason that Macbeth turns to evil and sends his life into a downward spiral. Lady Macbeth is passionate, passionate about being queen of Scotland. She uses her wit and smooth talk to persuade her beloved Macbeth into murdering the great leader, King Duncan of Scotland. She tells Macbeth that he is a coward, and untrustworthy, and is missing the opportunity of a lifetime. She tells him he is passing the opportunity to be a great King that everyone in the country respects and loves. In reality, all she cares about is that if Macbeth kills the king then he will take his place therefore making her queen, the title she longs for. Lady Macbeth uses some very rude tactics to persuade her husband: "I have given suck, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this" (1.7.62-67). She basically called Macbeth untrustworthy for not being able to keep a promise, but clearly she is already crazy, as she said she would've killed her own child if she had told Macbeth she would. She also encourages Macbeth to do this deed by bringing out his inner snake, "Your hand, your tongue, look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't" (1.5.75-77). Lady Macbeth even goes far enough to question his manhood! When he seems to waver, she asks, "What beast was't then that made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man; and to be more then what you were, you would be so much more the man" (1.7.54-57). Clearly, Lady Macbeth is crazed for power, and will do anything and everything she can to become the queen of Scotland, even if it means using her own husband.

Literary Devices

  1. Aside- when a character on stage is talking either to themselves or a certain person(s) theoretically but in reality all people on stage can hear. E.x.-"(aside) Glamis, and thane of Cawdor! The greatest is behind. (to ROSS and ANGUS)Thanks for your pains.

    (aside to BANQUO) Do you not hope your children shall be kings..." (1.3.118-122). This is a part of the play when Macbeth is onstage and as a character, wants to keep his ideas to himself, but in real life, everyone can hear him.

  2. Symbolism- objects that signify other things such as meanings or ideas. E.x.- "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood Clean from my hand?" (2.2.61-62). Blood is a great symbol for Macbeth's guilt, because it is there from the very beginning and does not go away.

  3. Comic Relief- a funny scene in a drama or tragedy that serves to relax the mood. E.x.- "Knock, knock, knock! Who’s there, i' th' name of Beelzebub? Here’s a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty. Come in time, have napkins enough about you, here you’ll sweat for ’t" (2.3.2-3). This is a scene where a drunk porter decides that he is going to pretend to be the gatekeeper of hell while someone is knocking at Macbeth's castle door.

Character Analysis: Banquo

Banquo was a very noble person who had very good values. He was the best friend of Macbeth and tried very hard to talk him out of listening to the Weird Sisters, or the witches, ¨...have we eaten on the insane root that takes the reason prisoner?" (1.3.94-95). In regular English, he was wondering why they were so crazy as to listen to the witches. Banquo was a noble man and was not as important as Macbeth based on title, but was by FAR the better man, as he was wiser and looked deeper into the meaning of the witch's prophecy while Macbeth only saw the surface, "Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor!" and then Banquo wisely responds, "But 'tis strange! And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths..." (1.3.133-144). This is a foreshadowing of what happens later in the play, as Macbeth does die because of his decisions based on the prophecy. Unfortunately, all this got Banquo a date with death, as Macbeth eventually killed Banquo, "O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! Thou mayst revenge. O slave!" (3.3.26-27). So while Banquo is the most noble and wise person in the play, he comes to an unfortunate end.
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Piece of Art

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This picture is a representation of corruption, which is the basis of the Tragedy of Macbeth. Macbeth, on of the king's most trusted men, cheats the system and kills the king all for power and a false prophecy of three witches. The picture shows a man in a ski mask, which entails he is up to no good, putting on a mask that depicts a normal person. What it is saying that this man is planning to do bad deeds but is pretending to be innocent. This is precisely what Lady Macbeth wants Macbeth to do. She even said, "Your hand, your tongue, look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't" (1.5.75-77). She tells Macbeth to look innocent and peaceful, but in reality be the hidden surprise beneath.