How does Macbeth change in the course of the play?
To make an analysis of Macbeth is very difficult, because throughout the play we see him acting in different ways. In some parts of the play he comes across as a brave loyal warrior to King Duncan and Scotland, but in other parts of the play he comes across as a power hungry, ruthless man who will do anything in his quest to become king.
We first hear about Macbeth in Act 1, Sc 2, in this scene we hear about how brave and strong he is. We hear this when the sergeant is asked about how the captains, Macbeth and Banquo, got on. The sergeant says, As cannons overcharged with double cracks, so they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foes. This means they fought like they were more then men, more like supermen, and that they viciously attacked their opponents. This tells us that Macbeth is a brave warrior, whose loyalties lie with his king and country; this is why he fought with so much passion.
In Act 1, Sc 3, we see Macbeth and Banquo interacting with the witches for the first time, they tell him he will become the thane of Cawdor and the king. This is when we first discover that Macbeth also has a very sinister and ambitious side. He says, I am thane of Cawdor: if good why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair. This is after he has just found out from Ross and Angus that he has become thane of Cawdor, just like the witches had said. He says, this is good news, then why do I keep on thinking about the other horrible suggestion? By this he means about becoming king, and is thinking about what he would have to do to become king, which is kill Duncan.
In Act 1, Sc 7, we see the first real conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. It is after Lady Macbeth received the letter from Macbeth telling her about the witches and what they said. Macbeth tells her that he will not think about what the witches said about being king anymore. Lady Macbeth says, That made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man. By this she means, then why did you tell me about the witches? She also taunts Macbeths manhood, by doing this she persuades him into killing the king. From this we learn that Lady Macbeth is even more ambitious than Macbeth. She has a burning desire for power and status, and that is what drove Macbeth to killing the king. This scene also shows us that Macbeth is easily led by his wife, and is not really a leader figure.
In Act 2, Sc 2, we find out that Macbeth has committed the murder of Duncan, but they dont show this in the play. But in the film version that we watched it shows Macbeth killing Duncan, also in the version that we watched Duncan wakes up just as he is about to be stabbed to death. In the book they dont show the murder being committed. Also in this scene Macbeth says, Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep! This shows us Macbeth has now got insomnia which means he cant sleep any more, because of what he has done. This tells us that Macbeth is feeling the repercussions of what he has done, and this is stopping him from sleeping because of the pressure and stress he is under.
After the murder, Macbeth is made king, and we dont hear about Lady Macbeth and her conniving ways much, in fact the only times we hear about her after the murder, is when she is very upset about what she has done, and she goes a bit insane. Now Macbeth, is left without the only friend he had left, and has to now make decisions for himself, his former drive for power and status, which was his wife has disintegrated. Since Macbeth was left alone, we see a huge change in his personality and the way he acts. He is not a brave and courageous warrior anymore, now he is just a scared and insecure man who kills anybody that he thinks is a threat.
During Macbeths demise he kills a number of people who used to be close to him, he kills Banquo, the two guards that were guarding Duncan and Lady Macduff and her child. Macbeth reaches his optimum of evilness in Act 4, Sc 2; this is when he gets somebody to kill Lady Macduff and her child, who are entirely innocent of any crime. But they are killed because Macduff has left Scotland to go to England and help Malcolm, Duncans eldest son. Macbeth can not get any eviler then this, because he has killed an innocent mother and child, and to make it even worse he did not even commit the murder himself.
From this point onwards, Macbeth realises what he has done is wrong, and his hunger and ambition for power and status has been extinguished. In Act 5, Sc 3, Macbeth says, I am sick at heart. He also says, my way of life is falln into the sear, the yellow leaf; and that which should accompany old age by saying this it shows us that he has realised that even though he is now king, it is not worth what has happened to him, as a human being. He has no friends or family left, and his life is not worth living and even if he lives to see old age, he will still have a very unhappy life.
In Act 5, Sc 5, Macbeth finds out Lady Macbeth has died, and in Act 5, Sc 8 he says, Why should I play the Roman fool, and die on my own sword? This shows us he thinks about committing suicide, but he then says why should he die from his own sword, and decides to fight and die on the battlefield, honourably.
The play begins with Macbeth fighting like a true warrior on the battlefield, and it ends with him dying in combat. Macbeth starts and ends the play as a true warrior, fighting till death, but in the middle he loses himself over his ambition for power and status just like his wife. Macbeths changes in the course of the play are strongly contrasted by Lady Macbeth who starts of the play quite evil and power hungry, but she ends up losing her sanity in the end, which ultimately makes Macbeth lose his as well, leaving him to die honourably on the battlefield. Macbeth lost his mind over power and status.