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The Two Faces of Macbeth

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Words: 794 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 794|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Macbeth's Initial Face: Honor and Loyalty
  2. The Transformation: Ambition Takes Over
  3. The Inner Conflict and Tragic Consequences
  4. Conclusion: The Duality of Human Nature
  5. Bibliography

William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, explores the duality of human nature through the character of Macbeth himself. Throughout the play, Macbeth exhibits two distinct faces - one that is honorable and loyal, and another that is ambitious and ruthless. This essay will delve into the complexities of Macbeth’s character, examining the consequences of his actions and the inner conflicts he faces. By analyzing the two faces of Macbeth, we can gain a deeper understanding of the human condition and the moral dilemmas that arise when one's ambition overrides their sense of morality.

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Macbeth's Initial Face: Honor and Loyalty

At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a brave and noble warrior. He is hailed as a hero for his triumphs on the battlefield, and his loyalty to King Duncan is unwavering. Macbeth's initial face is one of honor and loyalty, as seen in his valiant efforts in defending Scotland against its enemies. For instance, when the Captain describes Macbeth's bravery in battle, he states, "But all's too weak; / For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name – / Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, / Which smoked with bloody execution…" (1.2.16-19). Macbeth's courage and dedication to his country are evident in this passage, highlighting his initial face as a noble and honorable man.

Furthermore, Macbeth's loyalty to King Duncan is emphasized through his heartfelt soliloquy, where he contemplates the consequences of killing Duncan. He muses, "First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, / Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, / Who should against his murderer shut the door, / Not bear the knife myself" (1.7.13-16). Macbeth's internal struggle between his loyalty to the king and his ambition is evident in these lines. His initial face remains one of loyalty and honor, despite the seed of ambition that has been planted within him.

The Transformation: Ambition Takes Over

However, as the play progresses, Macbeth's honorable face begins to crumble under the weight of his ambition. Influenced by the prophecies of the witches and his power-hungry wife, Lady Macbeth, Macbeth's desire for the throne becomes insatiable. This transformation is evident in his soliloquy, where he contemplates the consequences of murdering Duncan. He says, "I have no spur / To prick the sides of my intent, but only / Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself / And falls on the other" (1.7.25-28). Here, Macbeth acknowledges that his ambition is the driving force behind his actions, signifying the emergence of his darker face.

Macbeth's ambition leads him to commit heinous acts, such as the murder of Duncan and the subsequent murders of Banquo and Macduff's family. These actions demonstrate Macbeth's ruthless face, where his ambition has completely consumed his sense of morality. The consequences of his actions are evident in his guilt and paranoia, as he becomes haunted by his misdeeds. Macbeth's descent into darkness highlights the destructive nature of unchecked ambition, showcasing the dangers of allowing one's darker face to overpower their initial virtues.

The Inner Conflict and Tragic Consequences

Throughout the play, Macbeth grapples with an inner conflict between his two faces. He is torn between his initial face of honor and loyalty and the darker face of ambition and ruthlessness. This internal struggle is most apparent in his soliloquy before the murder of Duncan, where he contemplates the consequences of his actions. Macbeth acknowledges the gravity of his decision, stating, "If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well / It were done quickly" (1.7.1-2). This inner conflict highlights the complexity of Macbeth's character and the moral dilemmas he faces.

The tragic consequences of Macbeth's internal conflict are evident in the play's conclusion. Macbeth's descent into darkness ultimately leads to his downfall, as he is consumed by guilt and paranoia. The witches' prophecies, which initially fueled his ambition, ultimately lead to his demise. Macbeth's tragic fate serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the dangers of succumbing to our darker impulses and the importance of maintaining our initial virtues.

Conclusion: The Duality of Human Nature

In conclusion, Macbeth's character embodies the duality of human nature. His two faces - one of honor and loyalty, and another of ambition and ruthlessness - showcase the complexities of the human condition. Macbeth's initial face is overshadowed by his ambition, leading him down a dark and destructive path. Through Macbeth's inner conflict and tragic consequences, Shakespeare highlights the moral dilemmas that arise when one's ambition overrides their sense of morality. Macbeth serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the importance of maintaining our initial virtues and resisting the allure of unchecked ambition. By understanding the two faces of Macbeth, we gain insight into the intricacies of human nature and the eternal struggle between good and evil.

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Bibliography

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Two Faces of Macbeth. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-two-faces-of-macbeth/
“The Two Faces of Macbeth.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-two-faces-of-macbeth/
The Two Faces of Macbeth. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-two-faces-of-macbeth/> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
The Two Faces of Macbeth [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/the-two-faces-of-macbeth/
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