Plot summary[ edit ] On Christmas Eve, around Pip, an orphan who is about seven years old, encounters an escaped convict in the village churchyard, while visiting the graves of his parents and siblings. Pip now lives with his abusive elder sister and her kind husband Joe Gargery, a blacksmith.
Like Othellothe Moor of Venice pr. Consequently, the action moves forward in a swift and inexorable rush. More significantly, the climax—the murder of Duncan—takes place very early in the play. As a result, attention is focused on the various consequences of the crime rather than on the ambiguities or moral dilemmas that had preceded and occasioned it.
In this, the play differs from Othello, where the hero commits murder only after long plotting, and from HamletPrince of Denmark pr. Macbeth is more like King Lear pr. However, Macbeth differs from that play, too, in that it does not raise the monumental, cosmic questions of good and evil in nature.
Instead, it explores the moral and psychological effects of evil in the life of one man. For all the power and prominence of Lady Macbeth, the drama remains essentially the story of the lord who commits regicide and thereby enmeshes himself in a complex web of consequences.
When Macbeth first enters, he is far from the villain whose experiences the play subsequently describes.
He has just returned from a glorious military success in defense of the Crown. He is rewarded by the grateful Duncan, with preferment as thane of Cawdor. This honor, which initially qualifies him for the role of hero, ironically intensifies the horror of the murder Macbeth soon commits.
It is not mitigated by mixed motives or insufficient knowledge. The sin is so boldly offensive that many have tried to find extenuation in the impetus given Macbeth by the witches.
However, the witches do not control behavior in the play. They are merely a poignant external symbol of the ambition that is already within Macbeth. The responsibility cannot be shifted to Lady Macbeth, despite her goading. In a way, she is merely acting out the role of the good wife, encouraging her husband to do what she believes to be in his best interests.
She is a catalyst and supporter, but she does not make the grim decision, and Macbeth never tries to lay the blame on her. When Macbeth proceeds on his bloody course, there is little extenuation in his brief failure of nerve. He is an ambitious man overpowered by his high aspirations, yet Shakespeare is able to elicit feelings of sympathy for him from the audience.
Despite the evil of his actions, he does not arouse the distaste audiences reserve for such villains as Iago and Cornwall. This may be because Macbeth is not evil incarnate but a human being who has sinned.
Moreover, audiences are as much affected by what Macbeth says about his actions as by the deeds themselves. Both substance and setting emphasize the great evil, but Macbeth does not go about his foul business easily. He knows what he is doing, and his agonizing reflections show a person increasingly losing control over his own moral destiny.
Although Lady Macbeth demonstrated greater courage and resolution at the time of the murder of Duncan, it is she who falls victim to the physical manifestations of remorse and literally dies of guilt.
Macbeth, who starts more tentatively, becomes stronger, or perhaps more inured, as he faces the consequences of his initial crime. The later murders flow naturally out of the first.
Evil breeds evil because Macbeth, to protect himself and consolidate his position, is forced to murder again.
His actions become more cold-blooded as his options disappear. Shakespeare does not allow Macbeth any moral excuses. The dramatist is aware of the notion that any action performed makes it more likely that the person will perform other such actions.
The operation of this phenomenon is apparent as Macbeth finds it increasingly easier to rise to the gruesome occasion.
However, the dominant inclination never becomes a total determinant of behavior, so Macbeth does not have the excuse of loss of free will. It does, however, become ever more difficult to break the chain of events that are rushing him toward moral and physical destruction.
As Macbeth degenerates, he becomes more deluded about his invulnerability and more emboldened.
What he gains in will and confidence is counterbalanced and eventually toppled by the iniquitous weight of the events he set in motion and felt he had to perpetuate. When he dies, he seems almost to be released from the imprisonment of his own evil.Students will be given opportunities to explore critical ideas and develop language skills of Shakespeare by engaging in role playing for major characters (Hamlet, Ophelia, King Hamlet ghost, Claudius, Gertrude, Laertes and Polonius).
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