Friday, 3 April 2015

Character of Macbeth

Character of Macbeth:It is difficult to assess the character of  Macbeth as a hero or as a villain. From the beginning to the end of the play, his personality undergoes a sea change. From a brave and loyal follower of king he is transformed into a ruthless murderer. At the beginning of the play all other characters including Banquo are eclipsed by Macbeth’s valour and heroism. He is called as “valour’s minion”, “Bellona’s bridegroom lapped in proof”, “brave” and “noble” Macbeth, the king’s “valiant cousin” etc. But in the last scene of the fourth act, it is he who is regarded as the “Fiend of Scotland”, a “hell-kite”, the “tyrant” “whose sole name blisters our tongues”, “devilish Macbeth”. Though Macbeth falls in the eye of the other characters, the reader can easily separate Macbeth from a hardened criminal. Actually what save Macbeth from being a villain character are some of his redeeming qualities.
                                                         Macbeth has an extraordinary sensitive and imaginative mind which expresses it fear, remorse and agony through beautiful poetry. His wavering before the murder of Duncun, his hallucination of the blood dripping dagger, his mental torment and anguish all testify to his sensitive and imaginative mind. After he commits the murder his immediate concern is not with being discovered, but with his conscience. He says “To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself”[ActII,ScII]. At the end of the play he is tormented by the awareness that he is now living amidst “Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath”[ActV,ScIII].
                                              Another virtue that he has retained is his courage. But it has inhuman quality: “bear-like, I must fight the course” [ActV,ScVII]. But when he understands the deceptive prophecies of the witches, he succumbs to a genuine human emotion. He feels sheer terror: “it hath cow’d my better part of man” [ActV,ScVIII]. But soon he recovers courage enough to die. Thus in his death he is not totally lost.
                                         Other strong point of Macbeth’s character is his capacity to face and withstand the ugly truth about himself. Though the influence of the witches and of Lady Macbeth is very prominent, Macbeth is not totally controlled by them. He consciously embraces the evil and also aware of its consequence. He is conscious of the goodness he abandons. He recognises the “deep damnation” to be expected and his hallucination of dagger confirms the force of his knowledge.
                                        He is also introspective and can analyse his mind appropriately. He knows what prompts him to commit the murder. It is his “vaulting ambition”. Though he diagnoses his malady, he acts humanly without trying to resist it.
                       In the world of evil his weak and nervous beginning and bold end is contrasted with his wife’s bold beginning and a remorseful pathetic end. Sigmund Freud made a comparative study of their character and concluded that they are the two parts of a single split personality. “Together they exhaust the possibilities of reaction to the crime, like two disunited parts of single psychical individuality, and it may be that they are both copied from a single prototype.”   (Sigmund Freud) 

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