Macbeth’s character changes through act 1 of the play. Macbeth goes from being a loyal and honourable soldier to a murderer and traitor. At the beginning of act 1, we hear him described as ‘valiant’, ‘brave’ and ‘noble’. Duncan, the king, is so impressed by his nobility and bravery that he proclaims Macbeth the ‘Thane of Cawdor’. He says, ‘No more the Thane of Cawdor shall deceive our bosom interest. Pronounce his present death, and with his former title greet Macbeth’. The former Thane of Cawdor committed treason in that he fought alongside the Norwegians against his country. This is significant because Macbeth, the current Thane of Cawdor, also goes on to be a traitor.
In scene three, Macbeth shows his vulnerability. I think this because he believes very easily what the witches are saying about his future, especially when he receives the news that he actually is the Thane of Cawdor. He says, ‘Glamis and Thane of Cawdor: The greatest is behind’. I think here he means that the first two prophecies have come true and the greatest one, to become king, is still to happen. The witches’ prophecies have huge power over Macbeth because he immediately starts thinking about them. It’s almost as though he has already been thinking about it before. He says, ‘My thought, whose murder yet is fantastical’. He is the first to mention murder, no one before this point had suggested. This proves that Macbeth may have been thinking about becoming king before the witched mentioned it.
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Macbeth is a man with. I think this because he knows that what he is thinking of doing it wrong. He says, ‘ Let not the light see my black and deep desires; The eye wink at hand’. I think when he says ‘light’, he means god. He doesn’t want God to see what his hand is going to do. He wants to get rid of all light so no one can see what he is about to do. The eye used to be thought of as the route to the soul, so by saying ‘the eye wink at hand,’ he doesn’t even have his own soul to see what his hand is going to do. Macbeth is a man of ambition. He is determined to become king, so even when Duncan granted the title ‘Prince of Cumberland’ to his son, Macbeth felt he too had to get to that status or beyond at whatever cost. He says, ‘The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall, or else o’er-leap, for in my way it lies’. It lies in his way to the throne, so he is willing to do anything to get there.
By reading what Lady Macbeth says, we learn that Macbeth is not ruthless. She says, ‘ Thou wouldst be great, art not without ambition, but The illness should attend it; what thou wouldst highly, that wouldst thou holily’. He is saying that Macbeth would be great not with ambition but with ruthlessness (illness) and that he wants to be great, but he wants to do it properly, not wrongly, like killing the king. Macbeth is rational. I feel this because he thinks about why he should and should not kill the king. He is also very unsure of himself. He says, ‘I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition’. He is saying that his only motive for killing Duncan is ambition. He says he shouldn’t kill the king because ‘bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor’. He is worried that if he kills the king, it might happen to him if he becomes king. He says, ‘Duncan … hath been so clear in his great office…’. He knows Duncan was an excellent ruler, and all the people liked him.
Macbeth also thinks of the old Scottish tradition of the host being the keeper of the guests’ life. He says, ‘his host … should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself. All of this deep thought and weighing of the advantages and disadvantages made me think he was rational. It also makes me feel that he is a little bit scared. His decision easily sways him. He decides that he doesn’t want to kill Duncan, but his reason for not wanting to, seems as though he wouldn’t mind the power of being king. He says, ‘ He hath honoured me of late, and I have bought golden opinions from all sorts of people, which would be worn now in their newest gloss…’. This is saying that he is enjoying the feeling of being famous and powerful.
This is the final decision he has made, but Lady Macbeth manages to persuade him to go ahead and kill Duncan. Macbeth shows his weakness in front of Lady Macbeth. He changes his mind when she insults him. He then begins to make plans himself. He says, ‘Will it not be received, when we have marked with blood those sleepy two, of his chamber, and used the very daggers that they have don’t’. The plan is to kill Duncan using the swords of his guards and then blame it on them. Macbeth has lost his doubt and fear. Through act 1, we notice a change in Macbeth’s character. In the beginning, he is loyal, and by the end, he is disloyal. This huge change in his character shows us that Macbeth is a very realistic and lifelike character and isn’t 2D.