The Downfall of Macbeth
Aside: a character's dialogue is spoken but not heard by the other actors on the stage
By speaking to himself alone, Macbeth seems disturbed enough, but his speech to himself was included to describe his strange ambition and even more disturbing actions yet to come. In Act 1 Scene 3, Scottish soldiers are returning home from battle when they are stopped by three witches who prophesy to them, calling Macbeth Thane of Cawdor and King. After the witches mysteriously vanish, Macbeth has some questions that the women did not answer him. Since the information he seeks is not appropriate to discuss around his fellow soldiers, he goes over his confusion out loud to himself, saying, "My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical shakes so my single state of man" (Shakespeare 25). The addition of the aside first introduces Macbeth's horrific fantasy of killing the king and taking the throne. It is the early characterization of Macbeth; already giving the audience the idea of his uneasy mind and murderous ambition.
Foil: two characters that are completely different in personality and morals
With the changing personality of Macbeth in action, Shakespeare adds a scene that contrasts good and evil. In Act 4 Scene 3, Macduff and Ross speak with Malcom in England to convince him to establish himself and become king back in Scotland. As the men talk, Malcom gains more and more courage to return. Based on what he was told, Malcom even refers to the new ruler as "Devilish Macbeth" (Shakespeare 143), due to Macbeth's truly evil behavior and tyrannical rule as king. However, what really makes him want to return is the way Ross describes the homeland; "It cannot be called our mother, but our grave" (Shakespeare 147). Such talk of Scotland's king brings about the conversation of England's king. King Edward of England is known, in Macbeth, as a truly amazing king. Malcom explains the "most miraculous work in this good king" (Shakespeare 145), which is his bizarre ability to heal evil. Malcom goes on to describe his Highness's goodness; "With this strange virtue, he hath a heavenly gift of prophecy, and sundry blessings hang about his throne that speak him full of grace" (Shakespeare 145). Although the topic changes again fairly quickly, the minor character King Edward makes a bigger splash than it seems. In order to emphasize Macbeth's new changes in character, he had to be compared to someone whose entire existence was the meaning of good. In the character comparison between the two kings, Edward is good and Macbeth is clearly evil. Making the foil for Macbeth verifies the idea that he is definitely the evil antagonist. Where Macbeth is killing his country, Edward is healing his.
Verbal Irony: a figure of speech/ what is said is not what is meant
In order to create tension between Lady Macbeth and, unknowingly, the king, verbal irony is used; further exhibiting the acting and faking abilities of Lady Macbeth. In Act One Scene Six, Lady Macbeth is visited by Duncan, who tells her they will have a feast at her home tonight. Since she has already received her husband's letter about the witches' prophecy, she knows that the king will be killed in her house that night. Lady Macbeth than makes an over-the-top attempt to hide her intentions from the king, giving him praise and telling him, " All our service, in every point twice done, and then done double, were poor and single business to contend against those honors deep and broad wherewith your Majesty loads our house" (Shakespeare 39). Lady Macbeth uses flattery to make the king feel welcome and comfortable, but she doesn't mean any of it. In reality, Lady Macbeth is just trying to make him feel relaxed so he has no reason to be suspicious and avoid the party. The whole point of speaking well of the king is to get him into her house to kill him. The verbal irony is being used to show the face that Lady Macbeth can make. Through the entire murder night and morning of king Duncan, she remains calm and acts as though she knows nothing of the things that are happening. This scene just further shows Lady Macbeth's cruel and heartless death wish for Duncan. After this scene, it is easy for readers to conclude that Lady Macbeth is evil.
Character Analysis - Malcom
During the plot in Macbeth, several characters change out of fear, and Malcom, son of Duncan, is one of them. The first characterization of Malcom comes when his father is killed. Him and his brother plan to leave for fear of their lives. Malcom urges Donnalbain to refrain from telling the others they plan to leave, because he doesn't trust anyone who could have killed his father; "Let's not consort with them. To show an unfelt sorrow is an office which the false man does say" (Shakespeare 71). This early characterization does not show Malcom in a good light. Though the audience knows he isn't the killer, his actions do portray him as cowardly, since he wants to run away, and distrusting, since he will not let others know he is leaving. However, his old characteristics go away with his later encounter. Macduff and Ross travel to England to speak with Malcom. While they are there, they explain the poor condition of their land, which sparks the fire for Malcom. Although Malcom wants to help, he feels he is not worthy of being king. Malcom fears he does not have the virtues of a king; "As justice, verity, temp'rance, stableness, bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, devotion, patience, courage, fortitude, I have no relish of them..." (Shakespeare 141). Malcom worries more about how well he governs and less about helping his country that instant, but, with one final attempt, Macduff compares Malcom to his father and his goodness and saving his country. Overwhelmed, Malcom wholeheartedly agrees to march to war against the tyrannical dictator Macbeth, with a whole new goal in mind. With lots of convincing, Malcom is turned from a frightened coward to a noble leader. After the fight is over, and it is clear that Malcom will become king, he gives a speech to all his men. He shows how like his father he is in his ways and his vows to save his country; "This, and what needful else that calls upon us, by the grace of Grace we will perform in measure, time, and place..." (Shakespeare 185). Finally, Malcom becomes the king everyone needs him to be, showing his will to help and lead the nation, as well as his willingness to heal the country in whatever way it needs. What lead Malcom to become his ending character was his nobles. The men who cheered him on and made him feel needed brought him back to his country to become king. Without them, Malcom would not have gone back to save his homeland.