Macbeth

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Macbeth

In Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth, the characters and the roles they play are
critical to its plot and theme, and therefore many of Shakespeare's characters
are well developed and complex. Two of these characters are the protagonist,
Macbeth, and his wife, Lady Macbeth. They play interesting roles in the tragedy,
and over the course of the play, their relationship changes and their roles are
essentially switched. At the beginning of the play, they treat each other as
equals. They have great concern for each other, as illustrated when Macbeth
races to tell Lady Macbeth the news about the witches and she immediately begins
plotting how to gain for her husband his desire to be king. At this point, Lady
Macbeth is the resolute, strong woman, while Macbeth is portrayed as her
indecisive, cowardly husband. He does have ambition, but at this point, his
conscience is stronger than that ambition. Lady Macbeth explains this
characteristic of her husband in Act I, Scene v, when she says, "Yet do I
fear thy nature; it is too full o' th' milk of human kindness to catch the
nearest way." The next stage of change developing in the characters of
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is in Act II. This is the act in which Macbeth kills
King Duncan. Macbeth's character change is apparent because it is obvious that
he has given in to his ambition and has murdered the king. He is not entirely
changed, though, because he is almost delirious after he has committed the
crime. He exclaims, "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 believes that instead of the ocean cleaning
his hands, his hands would turn the ocean red. Macbeth's role has changed
somewhat but not entirely, since he has committed the crime but his conscience
is still apparent after the murder. Lady Macbeth's role similarly changes
somewhat in Act II. The reader sees a crack in her strong character when she
tells Macbeth in Scene ii of Act II that she would have murdered Duncan herself
if he had not resembled ...

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