Macbeths Reputation Essay
Discuss how Macbeth has changed and lost his reputation: What are the various examples of evil? Macbeth; Scotland’s greatest and most formidable general, the Kings loyal servant, worthy Thane of Cawdor, respected gentry of Scotland’s bosom. A murderer, tyrant, fiend, and ‘Hell-Kite’. The tale of Macbeth represents how actions and fate can change the reputation and future of anybody, and that absolute power will corrupt absolutely. Prior to the encounter Macbeth had with the Witches, he was seen as the Hero of Scotland, and battle worthy and proven soldier; gallant and friend to many, “My noble partner” (Banquo).
After he is exposed to the evil and supernatural demeanour of the witches, he is overwhelmed, overcome by ambition, lust for power, lust for more than the title of the Thane of Cawdor. He begins to rely on the witches for information, and is eventually considered by even them, evil, “By the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way comes” (Second Witch). However, before all the misfortune, circumstance and ambitious actions, Macbeth was once seen as a valiant man, a great hope for Scotland “I have begun to plant thee, and will labour to make thee full of growing” (King)
Macbeth’s previous history must’ve been something to earn himself the immutable respect of so many people, even the King addresses him in exclamation, “O worthiest cousin! ” He commands respect where ever he is, and common soldiers know even to pay him the reverence he deserves, “Hail, most worthy Thane” (Ross). All this trust, dedication, and deference shown towards Macbeth indicate clearly that he is a valiant hero of Scotland, and has obviously no desire to throw all his fame away.
However, this is indivertibly achieved by one action, one very evil and malicious action. Juxtaposed against the stormy night, Macbeth, under the influence of evil, ambition, his wife’s taunting and a supernatural spell, Macbeth murders the King. This is a pivotal point in the play, as firstly, it shows the beginning of the inevitable end of Macbeth, and secondly, not only does it show that Macbeth’s ambition and will to kill outweighs his sense of moral and justice, but rather, it shows that Macbeth still possesses a conscience.
Unlike Lady Macbeth, who shows no mercy and is ruthlessly evil beyond question and doesn’t seem at all phased by killing Duncan, “A little water clears us of this deed. How easy is it then! ” Macbeth still sees that his actions have consequences, and that the blood he now has on his hands is of huge significance, “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. He immediately regrets what he has done, and even before the murder, he talks about how his killing Duncan would not be justified, for Duncan was a good King, and not only was he that, but he was Macbeth’s King, “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed”. But his conflict of conscience is swiftly resolved by Lady Macbeth, who plays on his great pride and love for his country, and for her. After the murder, the consequences that Macbeth foresaw begin to come about.
His great reputation, the loyalty of his friends and counterparts, his integrity and general respect, diminish greatly. His comrade, Macduff, even refuses to go to his crowing ceremony, “No, cousin, I’ll go to Fife”. Not only has Macbeth risen to a position he doesn’t rightly deserve, but chaos and oddity has enveloped Scotland, representing Macbeth’s unjustified and illegitimate take over, “Tis unnatural….. A falcon towering in her pride of place was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed”. The small owl is Macbeth, biting off more than he can chew, “Lest our old ropes sit easier than our new”.
Macbeth becomes dejected and somewhat self-ostracised from the rest of society, spending most of his time by himself; he doesn’t even want to feel the comfort of his wife, for he knows that what he has done is wrong, and, so it seems, Scotland does as well. Not only does his actions show that he’s changed, but also, his language. From treating the witches with respect and dignity, Macbeth now storms into their camp, sword drawn, blustered, and demands information, and speaks to them with contempt and a sense of aggravation, “How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags? What is it you do? He demands answers instantly, “Answer me to what I ask you! ” His composure and mannerism has significantly changed and deteriorated, “Call ‘em! Let me see’em! ” He now willingly looks into the dark arts and gives himself up to evil by staring into the conjured apparitions of the future, denouncing his kingship to Banquo’s children and grand children. But Macbeth’s evil and lust for dominance and the title of King sway him into killing Banquo, and his family, “Seize upon Fife, give to the edge of the sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line! Macbeth’s language is almost beast like, closely assimilating that of his wife’s, which has already been corrupted by evil. Contrasted with the reputable and trustworthy Macbeth of earlier times, this new Macbeth speaks of mass murder, treason and slaughtering children. The evil that has corrupted him has mutated him into a vile twisted man. Undoubtedly, when Macduff arrives in England to push Malcolm to create an army and stop Macbeth, the current level of respect and admiration is shown to Macbeth, a resounding low level to be precise.
Macduff even declares, “Not in the legions of horrid hell can come a devil more damned in evils to top Macbeth. ” This shows that Macbeth is now greatly despised and hated by his former friends, nobles and generals, and exemplifies the great stoop that Macbeth’s reputation has taken because of his actions. They talk about Duncan, “Thy royal father was a most sainted King” and then compare that to the description and titles that they give to the current King, “Devilish Macbeth…. he tyrant…O Hell-Kite. ” Then, Macduff learns of the slaughter of his family, and vows to revenge his loss, cursing Macbeth even more “Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself within my sword’s length set him. ” Macbeth’s reputation has changed from acclaimed heroicness, to notorious and wicked, not only in what he does, but how he does it, and how he speaks. It is evident that Scotland is in chaos, that his charges despise him greatly, and are planning to end his reign of tyranny.