Macbeth Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is one of literature’s greatest tragedies. Shakespeare wrote the play in 1605 and based it on events that took place in eleventh century Scotland. It is one of his best plays and is still studied around the world. The play focuses on the character Macbeth. During the course of the play, Macbeth changes from noble, to guilt-ridden, and finally to evil. Macbeth shows his nobility in the early scenes of the play.
After a fierce battle, one of King Duncan’s captains tells the king of Macbeth’s great fighting skill and valor in killing one of the king’s enemies, Macdonwald (Act I, Scene 2, Lines 16-24). This shows Macbeth’s bravery. Later, King Duncan states, “What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won.”(Act I, Scene 2, Line 67). King Duncan is referring to the title, Thane of Cawdor, which he gives to Macbeth as a result of the previous holder’s treachery. Macbeth asks why he has been dressed in borrowed robes (Act I, Scene 3, Lines 109-110).
With that statement, Macbeth shows that he does not desire another person’s position. Macbeth’s guilt-ridden conscience begins to appear after his murder of Duncan. Shortly after, Macbeth finds that he cannot say amen after one of the king’s guards cried, “God bless us!” (Act II, Scene 2, Lines 26-29). Macbeth feels he has done an unforgivable crime and can no longer refer to God. Not much later, Macbeth claims to have heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!”(Act II, Scene 2, Line 34). Macbeth’s conscience will no longer allow him to sleep peacefully.
He later states, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No..”(Act II, Scene 2, Lines 59-60). Macbeth feels that nothing could clear his guilty conscience. In the latter stages of the play, Macbeth becomes evil. Macbeth fells threatened by Banquo and employs murderers to kill his former friend (Act III, Scene 1). Macbeth has become evil enough to murder his best friend. Later, Macbeth murders again.
This time, he kills Macduff’s family because he thinks Macduff is a traitor to him (Act IV, Scene 2). Again, this shows his evil in that he murdered totally innocent people. After learning of his wife’s suicide, he emotionlessly states, “She should have died hereafter,” which means he felt her death was inevitable (Act V, Scene 5, Line 17). This lack of feeling or sorrow for his dead wife truly shows how evil has finally taken over Macbeth. Macbeth’s character changes from noble, to guilt-ridden, and finally to evil during the play.
In the beginning of the tragedy, Macbeth is a noble person. After killing Duncan, Macbeth quickly becomes guilt-ridden. Macbeth’s guilt finally turns to evil as he murders and shows no remorse of his actions. This evil finally results in his gruesome death.