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Character Development: Macbeth

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Nina Andrews

on 16 November 2012

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Transcript of Character Development: Macbeth

We are first introduced to Macbeth by a statement praising his courage and bravery in battle. He is beginning to display his desires for power. "But all’s too weak,
For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—
Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valor’s minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne'er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops,
And fixed his head upon our battlements." "What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won." At this point in the play, Macbeth is considered a noble and valiant hero, and is given the title "Thane of Cawdor." "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to you, thane of Glamis!"

"All hail, Macbeth! Hail to you, thane of Cawdor!"

"All hail, Macbeth, the future king!" The first factor that leads to Macbeth's ultimate downfall are the three witches' prophecies because they spark an ambition that ultimately overwhelms and corrupts him. "Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more."
"Speak, I charge you." This statement that Macbeth makes to the witches after they tell him his prophecies displays his increasing interest in being more than a humble servant of the king. "Glamis, and thane of Cawdor!
The greatest is behind." The horrible thoughts follow quickly behind! Macbeth: "I am thane of Cawdor.
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings." Deep down, he hopes he can obtain what he wants without being sinful, but his ambitions still threaten his good conscience. "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me
Without my stir." His thoughts scare him, and he does not know himself anymore. Once Macbeth finds out that Malcolm has gained the title "Prince of Cumberland," his thoughts become more evil, but at the same time he is undergoing an internal struggle with his conscience. "The prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see." The second factor that drives Macbeth against his true nature is...Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth: "Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou'ld’st have, great Glamis,
That which cries, “Thus thou must do,” if thou have it,
And that which rather thou dost fear to do,
Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crowned withal." Macbeth would prefer an easier way for his ambitions to be realized. "If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well
It were done quickly. If the assassination
Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
With his surcease success; that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come. " He displays his intelligence by foreshadowing the results of evil actions. "But in these cases
We still have judgment here, that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague th' inventor: this even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice
To our own lips." He is wise.... "I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on th' other." Macbeth's good conscience lives within him temporarily as he struggles to fight against Lady Macbeth's criticism. "Prithee, peace:
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none." Despite all of his inner struggles, his ambitions are too powerful for his good conscience, and he gives in to Lady Macbeth's proposition. He goes completely against any morals he had within him and is now ready to do the extreme, and exert every muscle in his body to commit the crime of murdering King Duncan. "I am settled, and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show.
False face must hide what the false heart doth know." Macbeth is now lying to Banquo, to whom he once was very loyal, as he refers to the witches and their prophecies. "I think not of them." Act 1 Act 2 After Macbeth murders King Duncan, he regrets what he has done, which is just as he expected. He is caught in the evil web and he will never be able to break free because his conscience will hold it against him forever. Evil did not come naturally to him. "I’ll go no more:
I am afraid to think what I have done;
Look on ’t again I dare not." Macbeth is being frightened by every noise he hears and wants to erase what he's done.. "Whence is that knocking?
How is ’t with me when every noise appals me?" "Wake Duncan with thy knocking. I would thou couldst." His guilt is overbearing. He is still a beginner at crime. "Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red." Macbeth lies with ease as he puts the blame on others despite his guilty conscience. Act 3 "We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed
In England and in Ireland, not confessing
Their cruel parricide, filling their hearers
With strange invention." Macbeth foreshadowed that evil begats evil, and now he wants to kill Banquo because he feels threatened by him (as if this is a justified reason enough to kill someone.) He questions the murderers' (the ones he hired to kill Banquo) manhood the same way Lady Macbeth questioned his manhood when she was coercing him to kill King Duncan. "To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be feared." "Now, if you have a station in the file,
Not i' th' worst rank of manhood, say ’t," Macbeth reiterates what he has always felt and struggled against. "Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill." Without the persuasion of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth has Banquo killed. Once that deed is done, Macbeth's guilty conscience gets the better of him again when he sees the ghost of Banquo appear in his seat. "Prithee, see there! Behold!" (to the ghost of Banquo) "Look! Lo! How say you?
Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too." Macbeth shows that he is still physically brave but he cannot escape his dishonourable behavior. "What man dare, I dare.
Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,
The armed rhinoceros, or th' Hyrcan tiger;
Take any shape but that, and my firm nerves
Shall never tremble. Or be alive again,
And dare me to the desert with thy sword.
If trembling I inhabit then, protest me
The baby of a girl. Hence, horrible shadow!
Unreal mockery, hence!" Even though Macbeth feels guilty for what he's done, he cannot stop now, and uses the excuse of already committing too many crimes to go back to normal. It is easier for him to keep killing people than to go back to being a noble man. He is trapped. "I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er." Macbeth is now considered a tyrant by other characters who once considered him noble. Lennox: "His message ere he come, that a swift blessing
May soon return to this our suffering country
Under a hand accursed!" Act 4 Macbeth's fear is overtaking his confidence, and he lusts for protection from his sins. Macbeth, to the witches: "I will be satisfied. Deny me this,
And an eternal curse fall on you! " Macbeth has proven he is now completely ruthless and shameless. He killed Macduff's family to get revenge on Macduff because he felt threatened by him. Macbeth has gone completely morally bankrupt as he begins to slaughter with no reason and without shame. His need to feel secure and justified is insatiable. Act 5 When a servant brings the news of approaching soldiers to Macbeth, Macbeth calls him "cowardly" the same way Lady Macbeth spoke condescendingly to him before he committed his first murder. He has become his own worst enemy. "Go, prick thy face and over-red thy fear,
Thou lily-livered boy. What soldiers, patch?
Death of thy soul! Those linen cheeks of thine
Are counselors to fear." Nothing scares Macbeth any longer, which is in contrast to his character after he killed King Duncan, where every single noise frightened him. Horrible things are too familiar to him; he is an expert at crime now. "I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been my senses would have cooled
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in ’t. I have supped full with horrors.
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me." In contrast to his earlier self and emotions, Macbeth has become so emotionally detached that he shrugs off the fact that his wife is dead. "She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death." Macbeth's tumultuous inner conflict has finally worn him out. He is getting tired of life. He will never recover from his first evil act. It was not in his character and the consequences were devastating. It was interesting that he didn't repent and try to make amends. Instead, his first evil act triggered an inescapable evil sequence. Macbeth to his messenger: "If thy speech be sooth,
I care not if thou dost for me as much.
I pull in resolution," "I 'gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish th' estate o' th' world were now undone." Again, showing no ability to control his evil impulses, and relying on the witches' prophecies for protection, he shows no mercy as he slaughters Young Siward in battle. "Thou wast born of woman.
But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn,
Brandished by man that’s of a woman born." Macbeth's murderous rampage is only ended when he dies. His character has evolved from a noble, valiant hero to an cold-hearted killer. With each murder, his guilty conscience deteriorates further. When Macbeth is praised by the king, he acts with humility. "The service and the loyalty I owe
In doing it pays itself. Your highness' part
Is to receive our duties, and our duties
Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing everything
Safe toward your love and honor." Recap Summary: Three witches predict his future, and his excitement at the prospect of power has him suddenly contemplating murder. He is not strong enough to stand by his morals and Lady Macbeth is able to convince him to commit murder. Afterward, his guilty conscience eats at him and he feels great remorse. 2 3 4 5 1 Macbeth continues to murder as his guilt slowly evaporates and his morals become increasingly bankrupt. The person he becomes towards the end of his life would have frightened the person he was at the beginning. Instead of trying to make up for his evil act, Macbeth becomes power hungry and defensive, and organizes the next murder without any help. Now he is committed to the path of murder and cannot turn back. He does not show regret, but his conscience is still active enough that he is haunted by the ghost of his victim. Macbeth is a noble, valiant, and humble hero with a clear moral code. However, he is ambitious. Character Development: Macbeth, Summary Timeline His character was not meant for evil deeds, and in the beginning he had morals, but now he is trying to justify his behavior.
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