Shakespeare uses drastic character changes to enhance his story line. The characters of Macbeth and Malcolm transform substantially throughout the play. Macbeth’s character changes for the worse as he fights emotions of guilt, struggles with paranoia and eventually morphs into a cruel and harsh leader by the end. The following passages exemplifies Macbeth change in character.
Great king, I’ve come from Fife, where the Norwegian flag flies, mocking our country and frightening our people. Leading an enormous army and assisted by that disloyal traitor, the thane of Cawdor, the king of Norway began a bloody battle. But outfitted in his battle-weathered armor, Macbeth met the Norwegian attacks shot for shot, as if he were the goddess of war’s husband. Finally he broke the enemy’s spirit, and we were victorious (Macbeth 1.2.75-84).
Here, Ross is informing the King how Macbeth led the army to victory during the battle and how he valiantly displayed his leadership abilities. The next passages affirms the idea that Macbeth transformed into a brash, brutal and bitter king.
She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stageAnd then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. (Macbeth 5.5.17-28)
This displays Macbeth’s cold and heartless reaction towards the passing of his wife, Lady Macbeth, as her death was simply an interference in his plans. Consequentially, his character alters from a dauntless and gallant soldier to a ruthless, barbaric and unfit leader.
Malcolm, on the other hand, is introduced as a coward who gradually progresses and takes the form of a devoted, dutiful and dedicated king. The following passage exemplifies Malcolm’s character change. “This murderous shaft that's shot Hath not yet lighted,/ and our safest way/ Is to avoid the aim. Therefore, to horse;/ And let us not be dainty of leave-taking,/ But shift away: there's warrant in that theft/ Which steals itself, when there's no mercy left” (Macbeth 2.3.370-375). It is clear that Malcolm is expressing his fear and attempting to convince Donalbain that they should flee immediately as he believes it is unsafe. This illustrates the idea that Malcolm is a spineless individual who’s feeble and faint-hearted personality prevents him from facing obstacles. He further proves this when stating "be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief/Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it" (Macbeth 4.3.211-213). In this example, Malcolm is literally raging and is persuading Macduff into converting his misery into fury so that they can muster the ability to tear Macbeth away from his throne and remove him of his title of king in order to establish peace in Scotland. This demonstrates Malcolm’s drastic character change from being a coward to a noble leader who is worthy taking responsibility and leading a country.
Through emphasizing the significance and implications of drastic character