How Macbeth’s Character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth
Is Revealed Through Other Characters
May 15th, 2015
When comparing one with another one will undoubtedly see many contrasts. Humans are all very different in personality and comparing two reveals aspects of both peoples personality. It may reveal good aspects and some bad also. This process shows the true character of both people when looked at from different angles. In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth’s cruelty and loss of conscience and humanity are revealed through contrast with Banquo, Lady Macbeth and Macduff.
Banquo is a character in the play that, in contrast, reveals Macbeth’s strong ambition and disloyalty. First, Banquo is intrigued by the witches’ prophecies but will not act on them because he knows they are evil but Macbeth does act on his prophecies because of his ambition. For example, after speaking with the witches’ Banquo says “That, trusted home, Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, besides the thane of Cawdor. But ’tis strange” (1.3.132-4). This shows that Banquo knows that the witches’ prophecies could make Macbeth royalty in Scotland and he also knows that he could act on the prophecies the witches gave him but, he knows that the witches very evil which makes him not trust or act these prophecies. Macbeth, in contrast, shows how truly ambitious he is when pondering killing Duncan. For example, the only reason Macbeth gives for killing Duncan is “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition … “ (1.7.25-7). This shows that the witches’ prophecies sparked and reassured Macbeth’s strong ambitions to pursue the path to become king which made him believe he needed to murder Duncan. He trusts and acts on these prophecies even though he knows the witches’ are evil showing the effect of how blinding his ambition is to his proper judgement about what he knows about witches’ true nature. Secondly, Macbeth’s disloyal nature is revealed through Banquo when he decides he needs to murder Duncan in order to become king. Banquo stayed loyal to Duncan despite the prophecies given to him by the witches’ but Macbeth shows no loyalty to Duncan. For example, when Macbeth is contemplating murdering Duncan he says “He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed” (1.7.12-4). Macbeth knows that Duncan trusted him and consciously betrays his trust showing great disloyalty. He also knows that he is supposed to protect Duncan and after building a good relationship with him from captaining his army and being chosen as the Thane of Cawdor, he decides to kill him in order to replace him as the King of Scotland which further confirms that Macbeth is anything but loyal. In conclusion, Banquo is a character in the play that reveals Macbeth’s character, through contrast, which reveals his character which consists of strong negative ambition and grave disloyalty.
Macbeth’s cruelty and lack of conscience are revealed through contrast with his wife Lady Macbeth. First, Macbeth is truly cruel while Lady Macbeth is not. For example, when Macbeth decides to kill Macduff’s family, a heinous act, he does this without any thought or consideration showing his true cruelty when he says “… From this moment, the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand” (4.1.166-8). When Macbeth says this he is saying that he is going to act without thinking about how it may affect others showing how cruel he truly his and how he will act on what he feels. He did not even ponder the fact that he was killing an innocent family which reveals how cruel of a person he is. Lady Macbeth in contrast had to be asked to become cruel to encourage Macbeth to kill Duncan when she says “fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty” (1.5.32-3). This reveals which reveals that she truly not a cruel person. Secondly, Macbeth has absolutely no