Course: STL E-L
Subject teacher: Mr. Stichel
2.1 William Shakespeare 4-5
2.2 Background of Macbeth 5-6
A summery of Macbeth 6-7
4.1 Main characters 7
4.1.2 Macbeth 8-12
4.1.3 Lady Macbeth 13-16
4.2 Analyses of the Relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth 16-18
5.1 Conclusion 19
5.2 Reference 20
5.3 Versicherung 21
I wanted to choose a subject that I am interested in and that motivates me to learn more about.
But I had to consider that I had to choose a subject that goes along with the subject matter in school and since we are discussing "Romeo and Juliet" in the class, I though that "Macbeth" would an ideal subject for my term paper.
In 2005 I went to a theatre performance of the tragedy "Macbeth" in my home town Ratingen.
It was the first time I came in contact with this topic.
The subject of this drama deals with the human soul and Shakespeare shows in his work how unscrupulous a human can become to gain power.
I was amazed from this performance and it touched me in an indescribable way.
During the performance the audience felt with the leading actor and somehow in an unexplainable way I started to sympathize with him.
However, I was not the only one who felt in this way the others shared it with me too.
At the beginning of the play Macbeth is a nobleman and a loyal subject of the King.
He is pressed by his fame-addicted wife to kill the King to get the throne.
During the murder plan and the murder Macbeth leads an inner conflict with his conscience and his thirst for glory.
In the end his bad side wins and his wife plays an important rule in his downfall.
Too late he regrets his mistakes and he wishes that he has never done them but he cannot leave of the vicious circle which he creates by himself.
With their monologues in the play the observer identify with the main characters and I think that’s the reason why I and the other observers felt sympathy with them.
The main point of my term paper is the change and the connection of the main characters “Macbeth” and “Lady Macbeth” because they influence the whole tragedy.
At first maybe the subject seems to be boring because Shakespeare works are four-hundred years old but when one concentrates on reading the drama, it attracts everybody, because the topics “loyalty, power, misuse of power and penitence” which Shakespeare shows, are still up-to-date.
Even his friends and rivals say about Shakespeare:” He was not from one time, he was for all times”.
William Shakespeare was born in 26th April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon (94 Miles from London)
His father, John Shakespeare, was a prosperous businessman and the mayor of Stratford for a while.
His mother was from a family that based their property on landholding.
William was the eldest surviving son of eight brothers and sisters of which three died early.
He received a good education, including the study Latin and old Greek, but did most probably never attend university.
At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway who was eight years older than him.
Six months later his daughter Susanna was born and in 1585 their twins Hamnet and Judith were born.
In 1562 Shakespeare was known as a famous theatre writer, author and actor in London.
Two years later he and some fellow actors joined a group named “Lord Chamberlain’s Men”.
When James I. of England was crowned king in 1603 they changed their name to
“Kings Men“and they became very successful. Shakespeare’s success as an actor and playwright rose and he also became co-proprietor of the Globe Theatre.
Already in 1597 he acquired the second-biggest house in Stratford. In the year 1611 he presumably ended his career and moved back to his birth place Stratford-Upon-Avon.
At the age of forty-eight he wrote his last play called "The Tempest" and in 1613 he wrote "Henry VIII." together with other playwrights.
38 plays he wrote in his life and an unknown number of other plays have not survived. He did not write only plays, he also writes over 150 sonnets and many other long poems.
He died in 23rd April 1616. The cause of his death is unknown
Shakespeare is buried in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon1 Background of Macbeth
Macbeth is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy and among experts it is presumed that the text was delivered abbreviated and incomplete.
One can see this by incomplete text lines throughout the drama.
Macbeth was written between in 1603/1606, parallel to the accession of King James I. of England.
After the death of Elisabeth I. of England in 1603, James I. who had been James VI. of Scotland ascended the throne.
The new king of England was interested in witchcraft, ghosts and demons.
So in 1597 he wrote a book about this topic with the title „Demonology“. Maybe this fact influenced Shakespeare’s tragedy in regard to the topic of witchcraft. In addition James I. occupied himself with Scottish history and he could trace his ancestors back up to the 11th century.
Shakespeare based the story of Macbeth on historical events of the 11th century. The story of Macbeth and the murder of King Duncan go back to the time in which Scotland was united. For his tragedy Shakespeare used an example of Raphael Holinshed’s (1525-1580) „Chronicles of Scotland, England and Ireland.”
This work can only partially be seen as historically reliable, since facts and legends are mixed.
The drama follows this collection of stories in most parts.
Shakespeare sometimes used whole dialogue passages. Holinshed wrote about the ten years' reign of King Macbeth, while William Shakespeare produced a much shorter and mush more cruel picture of tyrannical dictatorship and placed emphasis on the psychologically and moral aspects of the person Macbeth.1
Summery of William Shakespeare's “Macbeth”
The Tragedy of “Macbeth” was written around 1606 by William Shakespeare.
It deals with the rise of the royal military leader Macbeth to the king of Scotland, his moral change into a “Tyrant” and his final downfall.
The Tragedy begins with three bad witches who call themselves fate or disaster sisters.
They want to lead Macbeth into temptation.
They are waiting until Macbeth and his companion Banquo achieved a heroic victory against Scotland's enemies.
Afterward they prophesy to Macbeth that first he will become Thane of Glamis, then Thane of Cawdor and finally king of Scotland.
Next they prophesy to Banquo that his descendants will inherit the Scottish throne.
After a short time it turns out that Macbeth’s father died so the first prophecy comes true and Macbeth becomes Thane of Glamis.
Soon after this Macbeth achieved the information that the Scotch King Duncan appointed him as Thane of Cawdor as appretiation for his victory against the scotch enemies.
After Duncan designated his son Malcolm as successor of the throne, Macbeth feels deceived.
He is driven by ambition and he wants to see the third prophecy fulfilled.
He starts thinking of killing Duncan; also he is supported by his fame-addicted wife.
Finally he kills Duncan secretly in his sleep and he blames the royal guards of the murder.
On the next day Macbeth is crowned to the king of Scotland.
After a while his twinge of conscience destroys him and he gets delusions.
Besides Macbeth is under suspicion of murder by Duncan's followers.
He reacts with a reign of terror, because he wants to receive his illegal reign.
When Macbeth remembers the prophecy, that Banquo’s descendants will inherit the Scotch throne one day, he gives the order to kill his old friend Banquo, but his son “Fleace” can escape.
At a state banquet Macbeth sees the spirit of Banquo who sits down on the throne.
When Macbeth panics, he visits the three witches who prophesy him that he must be careful of Macduff and that no one who is born in a natural way can kill him and that finally he is safe until the “Royal Birnamwood” attacks him.
So he has Macduff's son and wife killed, because he thinks that he is invulnerable this way.
Meanwhile Macduff and Malcolm are planning to end Macbeth's reign.
When Macduff and Malcolm attack Macbeth, it turns out that Macduff was born in the process of a caesarean section and he kills Macbeth, so all prophesies come true.
At the end Malcolm becomes the legitimate king of Scotland and the old system is restored by fate.
- Duncan, at the Beginning of drama he is the King of Scotland
- Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, later Thane of Cawdor and after the homicide of King
Duncan he becomes King of Scotland
- Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s wife who provokes him to the murder
- Banquo, at first Macbeth's friend and a general in the army of King Duncan
- Macduff, Thane of Fife; at the end he kills Macbeth
- Malcolm, Duncan's elder son
- Donalbain, Duncan's younger son
- Three witches, they prophesy the future
- Fleance, the son of Banquo, Macbeth wants to kill him but he can escape.
- Lady Macduff/ Macduff's Son: Macbeth kills Macduff's wife and his son
Macbeth is the protagonist of the tragedy; he and his wife take centre stage in the drama. While Malcolm, Macduff and Banquo represent Macbeth’s antagonists and all the other characters are more or less slight figures, the three witches symbolize the world’s evil power1
Macbeth is a complicated and disputed character who is not able to resolve his inner conflicts.
He is an ambivalent and inconsistent person whose ambiguous behaviour throughout the whole drama is quite accurately described by the witches’ sentence.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair” (Act I, Scene 1, line 15)1 At first Macbeth appears to be a courageous nobleman and loyal military leader of the Scottish King.
In the first act a captain describes Macbeth as a “brave Macbeth” (Act I, Scene 2, line 10)1 and “Valour’s minion” (Act I, Scene 2, line 13)2 man.
Duncan who is a successful fighter calls him” valiant cousin! worthy gentleman! ” (Act I, Scene 2, line 18)3 and “noble Macbeth” (Act I, Scene 2, line 31)4 Although Macbeth is a popular and honourable person, he has a hidden weak point.
He is obsessed with the idea of might and glory; therefore he aspires to higher things.
One can recognize his ambivalent character and thirst for glory when the first two prophecies come true and he thinks about the third prophecy.
“Glamis, and thane of Cawdor:
The greatest is behind.-” (Act I, Scene 3, lines 13-14)5 And
“Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme.” (Act I, Scene 3, lines 27-29)6 After a short time he starts developing ideas of being king himself. He demands the royal throne but he wants to put the completion of the prophecy in the hand of fate.
“If chance will have me king, why, chance
May crown me,
Without my stir. […]” (Act I, Scene 3, lines 4-6)7 And
“Come what come may, […].” (Act I, Scene 3, lines 10-11)1
His wife describes him as
“too full o` the milk of human kindness” (Act I, Scene 5, line 31)2 And because of this he is not capable of committing the homicide of Duncan himself.
When Duncan makes his son heiress of the throne, Macbeth gets very angry and his thirsts for glory and his murderous thoughts are increased by Lady Macbeth.
A conflict between conscience and temptation of power blusters inside Macbeth.
Shakespeare creates a character that is not only bad. One can see different identities of human being mirrored in Macbeth’s complex character and at the end the bad side wins.
He murders the King in a malicious way in his own house even though he has the job to protect him as his host.
Nobody forces him to commit regicide; in fact, he himself decides to do it.
When he realize that he must kill Malcolm, the eldest son of Duncan, he is reluctant to commit such a deed, but at last temptation is stronger
“The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o’er-leap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires!
Let not light see my black and deep desires” (Act I, Scene 4, lines 4-7)1
After the death of King Duncan he is afflicted by sleeplessness and twinge of conscience which destruct him from inside by speaking to him.
“[…] Macbeth shall sleep no more” (Act II, Scene 2, line 14)2 And
“I am afraid to think what I have done;”
(Act II, Scene 2, line 23)3 He now realizes that he made a huge mistake and deeply regrets the homicide, but recognizes that he cannot go back.
“to know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself
[knocking] Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst [they go]”
(Act II, Scene 2, lines 9-13)4 Even though he regrets his deeds, Macbeth does not evolve back into being a heroic nobleman, but he becomes a tyrant who would do everything to maintain his non-legitimate reign.
Even his old companion Banquo and the completely uninvolved family of Macduff have to die.
As Macbeth sees the ghost of Duncan he loses control over himself.
After this incident he decides to kill everyone who can be a danger for him without any scruple, and when he consults the witches about his future, he suspects the worst.
Also he has gained everything he longed for, but still he finds no peace.
He lives with a constant fear of loosing his power and his mind is disrupted with regret for what he has done.
“… I will tomorrow
(An betimes I will) to the Weird Sisters:
More shall they speak; for now I am bent to know,
By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good
All causes shall give way: I am in blood
Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’ver” (Act III, Scene 4, lines 36-40 and lines 1-2)1
Finally, the death of Lady Macbeth distresses him so much that he regards everything as useless, feels tired of his life and depressed about his future because he lost his love and friendships.
Signifying nothing” (Act V, Scene 5, lines 30-34)3 Macbeth character and behaviour change though out the play and although he is a murderer, Shakespeare creates a character the reader feels sympathy towards until the end of the drama, because the reader knows his pains and self-doubts from his soliloquies,
At the end of the tragedy he fights as like a courageous warrior who knows no fear and he is killed by Macduff.123
Lady Macbeth is introduced in Act I, Scene 5 when she reads out a letter by Macbeth without any preceding introduction.
One can see her attitude immediately after she reads the letter because she comes up with the idea of murdering Duncan.
“Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear,
And chastise with the valour of my tongue
All that impedes thee from golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crowned withal.” (Act I, Scene 5, lines 3-8)1
When her husband wants to put his fate into the hand of fate, she pressures him to do the homicide, while she mistrusts his masculinity.
Without her and her reproach he would not have committed the homicide at King Duncan.
She manipulates her husband very skilfully with her trustful relation to him and by her knowledge of his weakness.
Lady Macbeth plans the homicide at King Duncan and also covers the tracks.
Before she can plan this malicious murder she needs the help of the evil powers of darkness.
“Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty;” (Act I, Scene 5, lines 23-26)2 Shakespeare makes her cruelness clear by her statement that she would even kill her own child to reach her aim.
She is the master of rhetoric and she can hide her corrupt intentions perfectly.
This can be seen very well in Scene 6 (Act I), when she welcomes Duncan at the castle with lovely words although she has planned the homicide behind his back only a short time before.
“All our service
We rest your hermits” (Act I, Scene 6, lines 11-17)3 She is described as an “honoured” (Act I, Scene 6, line 6) and “fair and noble hostess“(Act I, scene 6, 22) by King Duncan.
She is two-faced and calculating and advices her husband to be like her.
“look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under`t “` (Act I, Scene 5, Lines 16-17)1 Macbeth describes her character and attitude as quite masculine.
„Bring fourth men-children only!
For thy undaunted mettle should compose
Nothing but males.” (Act I, Scene7, lines 1-3)2 She believes that the murder of King Duncan has no consequences for her although it is the beginning of her downfall.
“A little water clears us of this deed:
How easy is it then! “ (Act II, Scene 2, lines 66-67)3 When Macduff sees the dead King in Scene 3 (Act II), she acts as if she was horrified:
“Woe, alas! What, in our house?” (Act II, Scene 3, lines 28-29)4 In the second part of the drama she more and more loses self-control and her husband turns away from her. Therefore Lady Macbeth loses her most important attachment figure and the only confidant she has had. She suffers under her qualms and they even follow her into her dreams. Because of this she starts sleepwalking.
”Out, damnèd spot! out, I say! One: two: why, then
`tis time to do`t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier,
and afeard! What need we fear who knows it, when none
can call our power account? Yet who would have thought
the old man to have had so much blood in him?
(Act V, Scene 1, lines 4-8)1 In the Sleepwalking scene the reader sees a broken and desperate Lady Macbeth who wants to hide and wash away her sins.
“What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” (Act V, Scene 1, line 11)2 “Here`s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of
Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! Oh! Oh!” (Act V, Scene 1, lines 16-17)3 All the time she pretends to be a strong, ambitious and insensitive woman, but underneath the surface her wrongdoings weaken her soul and finally destroy her from within.
In the end she commits suicide. Her thirst for glory rushes her into ruin.456 The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
The relationship between Macbeth and his wife changes during the Drama.
In the whole drama one of them is always superior to the other, while the other is inferior.
In language of theatre this is called "high status" and "low status".
So they personify two different poles and both characters stand on the wrong side and each of them has to atone for their mistakes in their on way.
In the beginning the relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth is marked by affection attachment.
have I thought good to deliver thee (my dearest partner of greatness)” (Act I, scene 5, 24-26)7 And
“My dearest love.” (Act I, Scene 5, line 7)1 Nonetheless Lady Macbeth is the dominating part of their relationship at the beginning.
She orders Macbeth to keep up appearancences.
“look like th`innocent flower,
But be the serpent under`t“ (Act I, Scene 5, lines 16-17)2
She persuades Macbeth who had made objections against the murder of King Duncan.
At the beginning Macbeth is unsure and troubled by twinge of conscience.
Without her he would probably have remained passive and would have waited until his fate is fulfilled.
When she enters the stage for the first time, she reads out her husband’s letter about the prophecies. She immediately develops first ideas about killing the king, exactly like Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth knows that her husband is to kind to kill Duncan, but she knows how she can control and manipulate Macbeth like a child.
“full o’th’milk of human kindness” (Act I, Scene 5, lines 31)3 He is completely addicted to Lady Macbeth’s powers, persuasiveness and unscrupulousness which lead him to his criminal doings.
She also drives him into self-doubts and she takes command of the management of the murder.
In the Act V, Scene 1 she gives a clear analysis of Macbeth’s personality.
The only thing that she is afraid of is that her husband could be to kind to carry out a royal murder.
“Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o`th`milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way:“ (Act I, Scene 5, lines 29-32)1 She already knows that she must change Macbeth’s mind and that she must helps him with the murder. Because of this she speaks to the dark powers and asks them to make Macbeth an unscrupulous brute.
“Come, you spirits
That tend on moral thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full
Of direst cruelty.” (Act I, Scene 5, lines 23-26)2
She wants to be like the malicious witches and in her call she begs the dark powers to take her sex from her ("unsex me here") (Act I, Scene 5, line 24)3, because the witches are sexless.
She shows her husband how cruel she can be to gain power.
”I have given suck, and know
How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me-
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this” (Act I, Scene 7, lines 20-25)4 Despite her cruelty one can recognize human qualities in Lady Macbeth, because she refuses to kill King Duncan with her own hands, because he looks like her father while sleeping.
So her call to the witches does not entirely work the way she would like it to be.
“Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I had done’t- My husband!“
(Act II, Scene 2, lines 15-16)5 As Macbeth kills Duncan, he overcomes his inhibitions and he kills without remorse, because he wants to protect his non-legitimate reign.
When he is crowned it comes to a turning point in their relationship.
5. Interpretationshilfe Englisch, William Shakespeare: Maceth, by Franz Mürb 1999
6. Lektürenhilfen: William Shakespeare: Macbeth, Scott, Robert Owens 6. Auflage 1996
7. Macbeth, William Shakespeare, Alasdair D.F. Macrae 1980
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macbeth (07 Feb 2008 18:09:50 GMT)
http://library.thinkquest.org/2888/char.html (17 Feb 2008 02:41:47 GMT)
http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=7194 (17 Feb 2008 01:52:38 GMT.)
http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=19233 (17 Feb 2008 01:39:39 GMT)
http://www.bookwolf.com/Free_Booknotes/Macbeth/characters-macbeth/characters-macbeth.html (10 Feb 2008 13:06:05 GMT)
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/Macbeth-About-the-Play-Introduction.id-65,pageNum-4.html (18 Feb 2008 14:41:24 GMT)
http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/macbeth/characters.html (15 Feb 2008 04:15:04 GMT)
http://www.srvc.net/engl154/html_files/Mac_Lecture.htm (10 Feb 2008 07:34:31 GMT)
Pages on the CD
Hiermit versichere ich, dass ich die Facharbeit selbständig verfasst habe, das keine andere Quellen und hilfsmittel als die angegebenen benutz und die Stellen der arbeit, die anderen werken dem Wortlaut oder Sinn nach entnommen sind, in jedem Fall unter Angabe der quelle als Entlehnung kenntlich gemacht worden sind.