Macbeth – Victim or Villain?
As the scenes of ‘Macbeth’, is slowly scene by scene revealed to the audience; Shakespeare wittily shows Macbeth’s personality as two different characters, the victim,to Lady Macbeth and the witches and as the villain, througout the play; but with both characters clearley portrayed so that one from the audience may say Macbeth is a victim to greater powers; Lady Macbeth, the witches and his own greed, wheras another may say Macbeth is a villain, who was happy of committing all the bad deeds doing so with his own free will, with various points to confirm their views.
Initially, right from the start we hear of Macbeth’s goodness before we even meet him; “good and hardy soldier” and ” Brave cousin” all show how brave Macbeth is and how he is patriotic, which obviously a villain wouldn’t be, caring, loving or doing anything for their country; they would be caring for themselves and their needs, someone who loves their country will not try and kill the king of the country, especailly a king like Duncan; who was always thinking of the country’s needs and views first.
Secondly, the fact that Macbeth wasn’t so sure on the plan that Lady Macbeth suggested; because even though he had suggested killing Duncan, right before the murder he was thinking about how bad the deed is,he was very confused and he decided not to the deed but it was under the influence of Lady Macbeth’s greed that he gave in and committed the inhuman act; ” And live a coward in thine own esteem,” which attached Macbeth’s masculinity and so therefore Macbeth becomes so angry that he doesn’t really do the deed with his own free will, anger drove him to do it.
Furthermore the fact that he actually thinks and lists the positive and the negative sides of doing the deed or not shows unlike villains he does have a ‘human’ side and that he does care and know about right and wrong; as he thinks to himself ” He’s here in double trust; First as I am his kinsman and his subject Strong both against the deed; then as his host Who should against his murder shut the door, Not bear the knife himself.” This shows that he feels guilty about this; and because of this, he decides that he wouldn’t kill Duncan, but Lady Macbeth persuades him, which further proves that he is a victim.
Macbeth was also under the influence of the three witches; because they appeared so inhuman and magical, ” Speak if you can What are you?” that when Macbeth heard the predictions he thought as the first prediction ” All hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Glamis.”, and the second prediction ” All hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Cawdor,” both seemed and came true, so Macbeth thought why wouldn’t the third ” All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” come true? Did not the witches speak words of wisdom before with the other two predictions? Don’t they seem magical? So Macbeth was victim to the witches throughout the play, thinking about their encounter. If the witches and Macbeth hadn’t met, Macbeth wouldn’t have killed Duncan, Banquo and nor would he have committed all the bad deeds he did.
The fact that Lady Macbeth, to add on to Macbeth’s lack of manliness gives an example as to what she can do if she’s promised to do something ” Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this.” She says this to make him angry and feel ashamed of lacking masculinity so therefore in order to prove he isn’t to himself and to Lady Macbeth he becomes determined and does the deed.
Moreover at the end, when Macbeth dies you can see clearley he is a victim who has lost everything, power, family,life the fact that Macbeth is totally disheartened shows he is really upset and (to the audience) seems like a victim.
On the other hand, Macbeth can also be thought of a villain, there are many points in the play as to how this is proven. When the three weird sisters are making their last prediction ” All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter” his villainous mind quickly starts thinking of the possibilities of becoming king and how to reach this; he immediately suggests this plan to his wife, when she suggests the plans Macbeth immediately agrees to it also when she asks him to leave everything upto her ” Leave all the rest to me” he agrees to it all.
Furthermore if Macbeth wasn’t a villain he wouldn’t have been persuaded so easily to kill Duncan; even though women in shakesperean time were supposed to be weak and lesser then men Macbeth chose to listen to his wife, which in Shakesperean time men wouldn’t do.
Additionally, after Macbeth killed Duncan instead of learning from and not sinning anymore he carries on to think and plan about killing Banquo his close friend; because Banquo was starting to suspect Macbeth and the fact that Banquo’s sons would be kings. It is a villainous deed to kill or attempt to kill your best friend and his son. Macbeth’s courage becomes so great he doesn’t even inform his wife Lady Macbeth when planning to kill Banquo and his son Fleance.
Mostly when ‘good’ people have a special power or belonging they try to be satisfied with it and not to want more, especailly if the way to achieve it isn’t good, wheras Macbeth through his actions constantly shows that he wants more power and that his greed is unstoppably growing, therefore proving he is a villain.
Macbeth constantly tries to fight and control fate; instead of leaving it, enjoying and appreciating what he already has he goes to the witches the second time himself instead of avoiding them, ” I conjure you, by that which you profess, However you come to know it, answer me” here he is clearly due to his greed desperate for some sort of ‘sign or miracle’ to happen from the witches so fate is on his side again.
Similarly like a general villain, Macbeth instead of worrying for his wife, Lady Macbeth, when the doctor tells him that Lady Macbeth is in need of a priest, Macbeth doesn’t ask for details he changed the subject to Scotland being in need of help; to add on to the point when Seyton brings the news that Lady Macbeth has finally died, Macbeth says “She should have died hereafter, There would have been a time for such a word” this is one of the most cruelest responses anyone can give to a friend’s death let alone a wife’s, it just shows how like other villains Macbeth is cold hearted and he has also started to be carried away with his power and greed that he actually states she should have died later in a more appropriate time; which further proves he really has no feelings, which relates to him being a villain.
Consequently, I think that overall Macbeth is both a victim and villain; as there are many points to prove both views but isn’t definitely one (a victim or a villain) but a mixture of both. The fact that at the end Macbeth is so sure of the witches’ predictions show that he is a victim; and a villain for believing what three weird sisters have said, for no proof of what they are but only because they’ve said something beneficial to him. Without one victimised deed he wouldn’t have done a villainous deed and the same the other way round, Macbeth is both a victim and a villain just like some animals who can both be predator and prey.
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