The first time we meet Macbeth, is when he has just triumphed over the Norwegians. He is in the middle of nowhere, and meets the two Wyrd Sisters. Macbeth is a widely esteemed soldier, who fights bravely for his King and Country, and has no ambition. He is content with his lot, and happy to be supporting his King, who he greatly likes.
He is a loyal Thane, the Thane of Glamis. He has a wife, Lady Macbeth, who later reveals herself as the dominating influence over Macbeth, and is very controlling.The first soliloquy that I am going to compare is very famous. It is the one in Act 1, Scene 7. It is the one that begins; “If it were done, when ’tis done.
..”At this point in time, Lady Macbeth has just ‘suggested’ to Macbeth that he should kill Duncan.
This is after hearing the Wyrd Sisters’ prediction. She has used her womanly ways to force Macbeth into saying yes, and he is now in a room, alone, pondering over the deed, discussing the merits and demerits:The first line of this soliloquy states that if he killed Duncan quickly, it would be all over, and Macbeth would sustain no damage from doing this deed. Besides, he thinks it is better for someone to die quickly rather than to live, and be hated.
He still has a sense of morality at this point, and acknowledges that killing someone it bad. However, he has no idea of the consequences.He uses non-direct sentences; he does not mention the word ‘murder’ in the sentence. He just calls it a deed. Macbeth is under torment here, and he goes from thinking “Yes, I will do it,” to “No, I will not” very quickly. He also thinks that he is doing a good deed, and it is in the best wishes of Scotland.”If th’assassination/Could trammel up the consequence..
.success.” He is now under the opinion that although he is going to kill someone, it would be better if he did. The action could be hidden by the good that will come from it; he appears to be under the opinion that he could rule much better than Duncan. He thinks people would forget what had happened; it would succeed as soon as Duncan was buried. He would lead Scotland to a noble future. Poor Macbeth; at this point in time he was under so many illusions, he did not realise what a prediction would lead him to.
He calls it a consequence, but not in the terms of bad; the opposite, he thinks it will be a happy one.A slight worry is beginning to come into his mind, but he pushes it away. It soon returns to his mind, slight doubts appear:”.
..this blow/Might be the be-all and end-all…” One push in the wrong direction might lead the country astray.
He does not know which way that is. His mind imagines one blow destroying everything. This thought, however, soon becomes improved, when Macbeth speaks again. He uses ‘be-all’ and ‘end-all’, two powerful words, which suggest he thinks there is nothing after death.Now, he backs away from belief of life after death, a move that would have shocked Elizabethan audiences.
Even at the time that this was set, God was the only thing anyone believed in. Not the king living, not a life, not even the security of knowing you would not be killed. Since Macbeth does not believe in such ‘mortal beliefs’, he was now free to do as he pleased. He does not think he will be punished in the next life, especially if there is no next life.Macbeth now imagines Time as a sandbank, and if he wanted, could avoid suffering retribution. He clearly states if he was offered a chance of a next life, he would refuse it;”.
..jump the life to come.
” He is pleased now he will be given no punishment, he can escape scot-free.Now Macbeth goes back into his doubts. He ponders over what will happen to him. Even though he thinks he can avoid divine retribution, he cannot avoid earthly retribution with ease…”..
.We’d still have judgement here; that we but teach/Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor…”‘Bloody’ is yet another powerful word; this one suggesting that we only teach lessons that we should not have learnt ourselves, lessons in murder. He thinks no man should have learnt that, they are appalling.
You will have, unwittingly, taught many men how to kill. Now more people are at risk.However, even when you think everyone has forgotten what you once did, they will come and haunt you again. They will plague you, never giving you a moment’s peace, they will come when your resistance is low, and you will cry out in pain.Why does Macbeth use the word inventor? It shows us that he holds a certain respect for men who murder, as he knows he will be too ‘weak’ to murder Duncan; at least, without anyone cajoling him on the way.
He has a very strong morality as well, which is revealed in the next line, when he states that this justice is fair-minded, because it will give back to him what he will do to Duncan: death. He uses medieval language here, not just because of the time when the play was written, but using a chalice: these were known to be used by the remote South American islanders’ communities. It was a well-known way of delivering death.Now we move on to Macbeth’s two reasons for not killing Duncan. Duncan is out his house, believing he is in total security. He trusts, and almost loves Macbeth. He does not suspect a thing.Macbeth thinks to himself that he is his kinsman and his subject, a friend and a loyal ‘servant’ who should put everything on the line to defend him, not kill Duncan himself.
These are two strong reasons for not killing Duncan; you can almost see him making a mental note of this, so he has a reason to tell his wife for backing out of it.Now, Macbeth goes on to think about Duncan’s assets. Macbeth probably chooses to ignore the bad things, which doubtlessly there are, because he really does not want to do this. He is pushed around by his wife to a major extent.He does not think of Duncan like a king, a snob and separated from the poor by power, but a meek man, more friendly with the lower status people than the people themselves! He talks of Duncan as innocent, and uses many ‘innocent’ sounding nouns, such as ‘a naked new-born babe’ and ‘heaven’s cherubim’. These are not describing Duncan, but are showing Macbeth as being sympathetic as to what Duncan’s fate will probably be.
Overall, he says that if Duncan is murdered, the virtues (of which Macbeth thinks there are many of) will become like angels, and cry out across the land. Macbeth can imagine this clearly, showing what an internal struggle he is going through with his morality. He thinks every man in the world will hear of it, and start crying, until wind itself is drowned.This is showing how much Macbeth respects Duncan, for he knows, were he not the murderer, he would be among them. Also, he thinks even the Gods must know how kind Duncan was, and will torment his murderer.
He wants Duncan to die naturally, and so be able to mourn for him.Macbeth is now feeling sorry for himself, as he now knows he will have to do the deed, and has almost resigned himself to it. He cannot back out of what he has thought now.All Macbeth has now is ambition.
He imagines himself on a horse, which only has ambition to play for. The horse aims too high (o’er-leaps itself) and falls on the other side of the fence.There is still much to play for, but failure is more in Macbeth’s mind than succeeding.
The next soliloquy takes place in Act 5, Scene 5. Macbeth has become King, but lost all his friends. He is surrounded by the English, alone in his castle. There are only a few people with him. He knows he cannot win, but remembers that no man of woman born can kill him (the second prediction). Seyton has just told him that his wife is dead, but could he care?Macbeth is now beginning to tire of life.
He talks to himself, thinking out loud, it is known as.”Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day…”Using the word ‘tomorrow’ three times makes it sound meaningless.