Essay Comparing Macbeth And Banquo

Macbeth Essay – the Similarities and Differences Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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Before and After When comparing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to each other, the main similarity between them that must be mentioned is that they both have high ambitions for royalty and greatness. Beside the only one significant similarity, they also differ with two distinct differences. Throughout the play, they both portrayed as evil characters who have committed the deaths of other characters, however the driving force of their cruel behavior are totally different.

The reason that leads Lady Macbeth to her menacing personality was self-denial while Macbeth’s driving force was motivated by his big greed. The flaws each possessed resulted their downfall and this is the last different when comparing Macbeth and his wife. The main similarity that Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth both shared was their high ambition for royalty and greatness. That was also the foundation for committing all the murders throughout the play which are caused by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Due to the prediction of the three witches “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor… shalt be King hereafter” (Act 1, Scene 3).

The prophecies not only triggered the ambitions in Macbeth but also give rises of bigger ambitions in Lady Macbeth. The death of King Duncan portrayed an example in the play that clearly showed how Lady Macbeth delivered herself with her ambitions (Act 2, Scene 2). As all the readers know, the first death in the play, King Duncan, who is obviously killed by Macbeth. To add to this, Lady Macbeth was also the one responsible for the murder of King Duncan. By using Macbeth’s love for her, Lady Macbeth persuades him into killing King Duncan because Macbeth loves and trusts his wife; he is vulnerable to her opinions and temptations.

That is shown in the quote “We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place […] who shall bear the guilt of our great quell? ” (Act 1, Scene 7). Because of her ambition of becoming King and Queen, Lady Macbeth’s ambition took over her morality and eventuall ended up whispering deadly words that caused King Duncan’s tragic death. For Macbeth, his ambition was also growing as the play progresses. While the ambition of Lady Macbeth stops after she achieved her desire of becoming the Queen of Scotland, Macbeth was still getting more committed to his great ambition.

The evidences for the great ambition of Macbeth are that he is again committed the next two assassinations of Banquo and Macduff’s wife and son (Act 3, Scene 3 and Act 4, Scene 2). He murdered these people because he was afraid of the predictions from the three witches that might come true: For the prediction of Banquo, three witches said that his son will become King, “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater […]. For another prediction of Macduff, they said that Macbeth should be aware of Macduff, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff. Beware the Thane of Fife – Dismiss me. Enough. ” (Act 4, Scene 1).

Due to these two predictions, Macbeth decided to kill those people who might be a dangerous threat to his throne. Those two evidences clearly show the Macbeth’s great ambition completely turned him into a very greedy being and a man who lacked human traits as he will do anything, including killing people, just to secure his power. After all, both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are the same, they both have high ambitions which are just for achieving their own royalty and greatness.

Although Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both portrayed as evil characters who have committed to all the murders in the play, their driving force with drove them to their cruelty is totally different to each other which was also the first difference that differ them in the play. Both have the same evil characteristic but for Lady Macbeth, her cunningness is motivated by her self-denial. She thinks for Macbeth that leads her to the decision of killing King Duncan because she wants her husband to become the King of Scotland. Quote “ […] Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here […] nor keep peace between th’effect and it! (Act 1, Scene 5).

In translation, the quote basically said that Lady Macbeth wanted to become a man, less like a woman so she won’t feel remorse, so that no human compassion can stop her evil plan or prevent her from accomplishing it. Through the translation of that quote, the readers infered that she wanted to be stronger because she felt remorse and guilty when she made the decision to kill; which means the humanity still exists in her. From this, it shows that she does not want to kill Duncan unless it is the only way can make Macbeth become the King.

Therefore, right after she achieved her desire, the ambition stopped urging her which was proven by the events in the play that she was not committed to anymore murder after the death of King Duncan. On the contrary to Lady Macbeth, the driving force to the evilness in Macbeth came from his own greed for what he cannot have. At the beginning of the play, he was struggling about whether he should kill King Duncan or not and he seemed to be guilty for his decisions. After the murder was done, Macbeth officially became the King of Scotland. That was when he became more and more ambitious because now he could do anything he wanted to.

Lead by the fire of ambition, Macbeth tried to assassinate Banquo and his son, Fleance, which was an example that really proved to the readers of his greed. Quote “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus – Upon my head they plac’d a fruitless crown […] come fate, into the list, and champion me to the utterance. ” (Act 3, Scene 1). From the quote stated, they showed that Macbeth was jealous with Banquo whose son will become the King just like in the witches’ prophecies,while Macbeth does not have a son who supposed to take his place as the successor.

Macbeth thought it was not fair because after everything that he had done just for their benefit. To secure his power and protect his throne for himself, once again, Macbeth committed the death of his dear friend, Banquo. From those explanations, Macbeth has completely changed into an evil man because he was too greedy for what he cannot have. At the end of the play, the downfall of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth was their infamous death. However, comparing their downfalls to each other, they were also very different to the expectations of most of the readers.

Their downfall was another difference contributed to the contrast between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Especially for Lady Macbeth, whom planned the murder of King Duncan and tried to convince her husband to get rid of the guilt and to follow her scheme. Before the butchery started, she showed herself as a cruel, assertive woman when dealing with her husband’s hesitation about the murdering of King Duncan which was shown in the quote “When you durst to do it, then you were a man […] had I so sworn as you have one to this. ” (Act 1, Scene 7).

The audience was lead to believe that Lady Macbeth will never feel any guilt concerning the murder, but her guilty conscience was displayed near the end of the play. She began to sleepwalk and relived the murder in her mind. Quote “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One; two; why, then tis time to do’t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord—fie! a soldier, and afeard? ” (Act 5, Scene 1). During the course of the play, Lady Macbeth was portrayed as a tough character, through her actions with her husband, her own opinions of the murders, and finally she tried to cope with her obvious guilt.

The guilt of the murder now has become unbearable for her and at the end, her unexpected downfall happened as she killed herself. On the contrary with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth showed his fear and guilt when dealing with the murder of Duncan which is shown in the scene of that he saw the imaginary dagger. At first, Macbeth’s intentions would have been less serious if his wife was not more anxious than he was. Not as assertive as his wife, Lady Macbeth uses his love for her to pressure him to follow her plan, therefore, he was forced to murder Duncan; pushed by his wife therefore it is partly Lady Macbeth’s fault for Macbeth’s downfall.

However, as the story progresses, the more inhumane and fearless Macbeth became as well as the body counts that he caused began to rise. For example, after the death of King Duncan was the death of Banquo and Macduff’s family was also the victim of the Macbeth’s rage. He seems to become forgotten the simple human feelings and emotions. The quote, he states, “I have almost forgotten the taste of fears: The time has been my senses would have cooled to hear a night-shriek and my fell of hair would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir. ” (Act 5, Scene 5). He even cannot feel fear as he realized Malcolm’s army are going to invade him soon.

He further showed how he was immune to human emotion in the following moment, when he was told that Lady Macbeth had died. Macbeth reacted coldly by saying “She should have died hereafter. ” (Act 5, Scene 5). Those are some evidences clearly showing the unexpected changes of Macbeth as his downfall escalated. At the end of the play, the last downfall that Macbeth had to bear was his headless death (Act 5, scene 8). Overall, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have only one same similarity and that was that they both have high ambitions and greeds for royalty and greatness, and this was the main cause for committing the murders.

In the play, the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth unfolded in an already passionate marriage. They are grounded by their love and would do almost anything for each other, therefore, it was also the driving force of Lady Macbeth’s evilness which came from the self-denial. While the difference was Macbeth’s evilness was just motivated by his greed.

They also differed from each other in their different downfalls at the end of the play. Lady Macbeth was an assertive, cruel woman at first which lead the readers to believe that she will never be obsessed about her guilt like er husband, but at the end, the downfall is that she has to take is her guilt and death. While Macbeth at first showed his fear and deep guilt for the murder of King Duncan. Later on in the tragedy, Macbeth’s downfall was his unexpected changes of becoming fearless and an inhumane person.

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Author: Cari Minns

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Macbeth Essay – the Similarities and Differences Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

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“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare is a play in which a central concern is clarified by the contrast between two characters, Macbeth and Banquo. They are noble and well respected soldiers who react very differently after receiving a prophecy regarding their futures. Through their actions, the dramatist explores the theme of the corrupting power of unchecked ambition, whose negative effects strongly emphasises the contrast between the characters.

Prior to the prophecy, Macbeth and Banquo are introduced as admirable figures in Act 1, scene 2. After leading their men to victory in battle, they are described as “As sparrow eagles, or the hare the lion.” A lion would never fear a hare, so too an eagle a sparrow. This suggests that Macbeth and Banquo are incredibly fearless warriors who can always fight their way to victory on the battlefront. Furthermore, Macbeth is also compared to “Bellona’s bridegroom.” Bellona was the Roman goddess of War, emphasising that Macbeth is a godlike figure of war who is strong and mighty on the battlefield.

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We are introduced to the play’s central concern in Act 1, scene 3 when the two characters react very differently to the prophecies given by three witches. After receiving the prophecy, Banquo sees Macbeth “start,” which shows that Macbeth flinches as he feels fear, suggesting he immediately imagines himself as king due to unnatural means. He also seems “wrapt withal,” which suggests he is lost in thought and has fallen into a dreamy state of bliss. This brings about the theme of the corrupting power of unchecked ambition as Macbeth ambition to be king is great enough to make him think of cruel thoughts and render him into a trance. In addition, he commands the witches to stay and tell him more:

“Stay you imperfect speakers, tell me more.”

Macbeth is clearly fascinated with the prophecies the witches have told him. He knows that he could only become king through wicked ways, yet he ignores his better judgement and puts his trust in the witches due to his great ambition. Therefore his unchecked ambition leaves him vulnerable to the deadly influence of the witches. This vulnerability illustrates the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition. Meanwhile, Banquo wants the witches to continue speaking because he is curious as to what they want to say, and he is fully aware that they are “devils.” Banquo also gives a warning to Macbeth:

“to win us at our harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths;

Win us with honest trifles, to betray us

In deepest consequences.”

Banquo recognises that the witches could be telling lies in order to win his and Macbeth’s trust to betray them in the future and he warns Macbeth of this. This in fact foreshadows Macbeth’s fate as he puts in faith in the witches, but results in his downfall. Banquo is also warning himself to not listen to the witches, which shows he is cautious and wary of the evil that surrounds him. The fact that he warns himself not to fall into traps and commit evil deeds reinforces his morality and principles.

The contrast between Macbeth and Banquo’s characters is shown in further detail through their behaviour after receiving the prophecy from the witches. One of the witches’ predictions was that Macbeth would be crowned Thane of Cawdor- this became true. As a result, Macbeth experiences dark thought of murdering King Duncan:

“why do I yield to that suggestion,

Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs”

The thought of murdering the king terrifies Macbeth and shakes him to the core. The fact that the mere thought of murder can provoke such a strong response in Macbeth foreshadows that he will suffer greatly in the aftermath of the crime and will be overwhelmed with guilt and regret. The theme of the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition is brought to our attention through the fact that it is Macbeth who first thinks of murder, not the witches. This shows the strength of his ambition and that he is willing to sacrifice all morality and nobility to achieve it. This unchecked ambition is the driving force which he cannot control. Macbeth’s dark thoughts directly contrast with Banquo’s showing a moral resilience that Macbeth lacks:

“A heavy summons lies like lead upon me,

And yet I would not sleep; merciful powers,

Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature

Gives way to in repose.”

Banquo is unable to control his subconscious at night- he has traitorous dreams regarding the prophecy. However, his morality is strong enough to allow him to check his ambitions when he is awake. Plus, Banquo tries to resist sleep in order to stop his dark thoughts from forming, contrasting with Macbeth. Unlike Macbeth, Banquo does not “yield to that suggestion.” Despite his better judgement and knowing the many cons of killing the king, Macbeth decides to commit regicide. This illustrates the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition as Macbeth’s incredible ambition to be king has made him defy logic, as shown in Act1 scene 7, when he admits that his only reason for killing the king is “Vaulting ambition.” The corruptive powers of unchecked ambition have also led Macbeth to sacrifice his morals and commit an atrocious sin, whereas Banquo remains noble and loyal to the King.

Another strong point of contrast between the characters of Macbeth and Banquo is their different relationships with God. As shown in the previous quotation, Banquo prays to God to have mercy on him, which suggests he feels close to God and he recognises these dark thoughts as being immoral and corrupt. However, Macbeth betrays God in the direst way by committing regicide. As a consequence, in the immediate aftermath of killing Duncan in Act 2, scene 2, Macbeth claims “I could not say “Amen.”” Macbeth stated in the Act 1, scene 7 soliloquy that he was willing to sacrifice his place in the afterlife in order to be king in this world. After committing the murder, Macbeth attempted to pray but failed, suggesting he has lost all connections to God and religion. During the time in which the play is set, people believed the King was God’s chosen appointee. By murdering an important religious figure, Macbeth has been isolated from God from this point forth. This isolation from God portrays the theme of the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition as Macbeth is very lonely in such a religious world.

Another clear point of contrast between Macbeth and Banquo is their ability to quell their inner dark thoughts. Banquo is tempted by the witches’ prophecies like Macbeth, however, he is able to check his ambition in way that Macbeth cannot:

“Why on the verities on thee made good,

May they not be my oracles as well

And set me up in hope? But hush, no more.”

Banquo wonders if his prophecy will come true like it has for Macbeth, however he tells himself to “hush, no more” as he does not want to give in to any dark thoughts. This reinforces the idea of Banquo being able to check his ambitions and remain loyal to the king. Contrastingly, Macbeth has become fixated on the prophecies. Even though he has been crowned king, he is still not content. Macbeth’s ambition is alive and it changes to remaining King. Macbeth is unable to rest in peace:

“Better be with the dead…

Than on the torture of the mind to lie

In restless ecstasy.”

Macbeth is unable to rest peacefully due to the constant fear, guilt and paranoia he feels. The use of the word “ecstasy” suggests he is experiencing agonizing mental torture. Macbeth is now suffering from the sleep deprivation foreshadowed by the auditory hallucination in the immediate aftermath of Duncan’s death in Act 2, scene 2. The extent of this suffering is reinforced by the fact that he claims it would be better to be dead than to continue to suffer his current mental torture. This illustrates the theme of the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition as his never ending ambition has made him tormented by paranoia, which will ultimately lead to the murder and Banquo.

The contrast between Macbeth and Banquo is further illustrated in the key scene Act 3, scene 4 after Banquo is murdered. Upon hearing that Banquo is dead, Macbeth also finds out Banquo’s son, Fleance, has escaped from the murderers. Macbeth is unable to control his emotions and claims, “Here comes my fit again!” Macbeth suffers from a spasm of fear; he is losing his courage, which suggests Macbeth’s stability is beginning to deteriorate due to the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition. Fleance’s escape worries him so much because he fears for his place on the throne, which is stated in the Act 1 scene 7 soliloquy when Macbeth talks of the “even-handed justice.” Macbeth fears harm will be done to him as he has inflicted harm onto others. Macbeth worsens when he sees a hallucination of Banquo’s ghost. The fact that Macbeth can see Banquo’s ghost is significant in itself. The motif of hallucination in the play is symbolic of the clash between Macbeth’s unchecked ambition and his morality:

“Thou canst not say I did it; never shake/Thy gory locks at me!”

The disturbing vision of Macbeth’s mind he cannot escape the fact he murdered his former partner and he is now suffering from this guilt. This guilt is also indicated by the fact that Banquo’s ghost is described as having “gory locks” as blood is symbolic of guilt. The central concern of the corrupting powers of unchecked ambition is shown through the paranoia, guilt and fear Macbeth suffers due to his great ambition to remain King.

The corrupting powers of unchecked ambition result in Macbeth deteriorating even more. In Act 4, scene 1, Macbeth returns to the witches to find out more of his prophecy. His trust in evil spirits definitely contrasts with Banquo, who turned to God to help him vanquish his dark inner thoughts. In Act 3, scene 4, Macbeth’s character worsens as he decides to become more relentless:

“The very firstlings of my heart shall be

The firstlings of my hand.”

Macbeth decides to act upon any fears or suspicions he may have; he will kill anyone he views as a threat to his position as King. He has vowed to be much more ruthless and tyrannical. Macbeth’s unchecked ambition has turned him into an appalling tyrant who is hated by all; this contrasts with the previous Macbeth who was admired by all in Act 1, scene 2. Macbeth proves this statement when he goes on a rampage and kills Macduff’s entire family in Act 4. Macduff’s wife and children posed no threat whatsoever to Macbeth yet he killed them anyway, showing that Macbeth paranoia is increasing and he is becoming more tyrannical. It is important to notice Macbeth kills Macduff’s family at the end of an emotive scene between a mother and her son who showed great affection and love for each other as it emphasises Macbeth’s shocking and barbaric brutality. The corrupting powers of unchecked ambition have made Macbeth into an emotionless oppressor who has nothing but his ambition.

By Act 5, Macbeth appears to be a shadow of the man he once was, illustrating the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition. In the Act 5, scene 3 soliloquy, Macbeth takes a moment to reflect on what he has lost after embarking on a course of evil crimes:

“that which should accompany old age,

As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,

I must not look to have.”

This strongly emphasises the central concern of the play. By choosing to follow his ambition, Macbeth has lost his friends, love and honour as well as becoming isolated from his wife and killing those he was once close to. Macbeth’s character is a tragic hero as he has now fully recognised the faults in his way. He recovers a shred of sympathy from the audience at this point as the audience lament what Macbeth could have been had he not chosen a path of evil. The theme of the corrupting powers of unchecked ambition is shown in full depth at the end of the play as Macbeth is ultimately killed in revenge for the evil crimes he has committed.

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare is a play in which the central concern- the corruptive powers of unchecked ambition-is explored through the contrast between the characters Macbeth and Banquo. Macbeth’s unchecked ambition led him to commit heinous crimes and lose his nobility and morals. However, Banquo’s checked ambition allowed him to retain his nobility and morals till his death.

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