Macbeth Timed Write 2
Sage W. (9th grade)
The idea that anyone can become evil with the right circumstances has been played with since the beginning of literature. Shakespeare’s play Macbeth highlights the story of the eventual corruption of a good person. In Macbeth, understanding Macbeth’s complicated character arc beginning as a loyal and valiant hero gives the audience sympathy for him, interpreting Macbeth as a good person manipulated into letting ambition control him. The very first way we hear of Macbeth is as “brave Macbeth” and he is clearly portrayed as a man of courage, however after being given the prophecy that Macbeth will become king from the witches he becomes paranoid over his fate, questioning himself and his ambitions. In his soliloquy he debates whether or not he should kill the king, “He’s here in double trust...I am his kinsman and his subject...should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife himself…” (Shakespeare 1.7.12-16). Macbeth is aware the act of killing his innocent king with no moral justification is wrong. His worries and doubts against the murder are highlighted by his use of the phrases “the act” or just “it” instead of “kill” or “death” to make him feel less guilt. After being pushed to follow through with killing Duncan, Macbeth is horrified and shaken, seen with “But wherefore I would not pronounce ‘Amen’?” (Shakespeare 2.2.34). There is clear guilt overwhelming him: he cannot pray or sleep, implying he knows he has crossed a hard line and killing an innocent is undeserving of forgiveness. Fear is also a key role, as Macbeth is unwilling to go back to the guards he killed and shows terror and indecisions at the blood now on his hands that he will never be able to wash off. Seeing how he questions his decisions and carries heavy guilt after the murder gives us the sense that there’s still good in him from the beginning and that he knows he should stop. Macbeth has a clear shift in character when everyone discovers Duncan’s death. In the midst of everyone’s reaction to the dead guards Macbeth tells them, “There the murderers...who could refrain, that had a heart to love and in that heart courage to make’s love known?” (Shakespeare 2.3.107-111). Macbeth shows absolutely no emotion or guilt toward the act of murder he just comitted as a supposedly loyal subject to his king. Instead he acts heartbroken and furious, blaming the innocent guards that he also killed in cold blood to cover up the blood on his own hands. However, we still see the glimpse of guilt and humanity from Macbeth after Banquo’s murder, “[To Ghost] Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too.” (Shakespeare 3.4.70). The ghost is a symbol that Macbeth knows the dark path he’s choosing to fall farther and farther into is wrong and is only leading him to desperately take the lives of more innocent people. It brings back the theme of sanity and insanity, and Macbeth questions himself, not knowing how to get out of this, like he’s in too deep to stop trying to pursue that fate he desires. As the audience we understand the way he was pushed into this situation and trapped between his ambitions and losing his moral compass, and understand what the reckless nature of Macbeth has done from this chain of events spiraling downward from his own perspective. Throughout Macbeth’s journey as a character, we see the raw power of ambition and other influences that pull him down to make the choices he does. Even though Macbeth becomes a cruel villain by the end, we see more in him than just a power-hungry tyrant, as we understand hard decisions and lines he chose to cross for his motivations. Through his internal thoughts and questions we see that there is humanity in him and that there is more behind him as a person than pure villany.