Macbeth Character Analysis

Discover ‘Macbeth’ with our Macbeth Character Analysis

Macbeth Character Analysis
Macbeth Character Analysis. Photo © NYPL Digital Gallery

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most intense and attractive villains. However, as this Macbeth character analysis reveals, he is a complex and multi-faceted character.

Macbeth Character Analysis

At the beginning of the play Macbeth is celebrated as a brave soldier and is rewarded with a new title from the king. He becomes the Thane of Cawdor as predicted by the three Macbeth witches, whose scheming helps drive Macbeth’s Ambition and transform him into a murderer and tyrant.

Our perception of Macbeth as a brave soldier is eroded when we see how easily he is manipulated by Lady Macbeth.

Macbeth is soon overwhelmed with ambition and self-doubt. Although he constantly questions his own actions, he is also compelled to commit further atrocities in order to cover up his previous wrong-doings.

Is Macbeth Evil?

It is difficult to view Macbeth as an inherently evil character because it is clear that he lacks strength of character. The events of the play also affect his mental stability – his guilt causes him a great deal of mental anguish and leads to hallucinations. In this respect, Macbeth has more in common with Hamlet than with Shakespeare’s other out-and-out villains like Othello’s Iago. However, unlike Hamlet, Macbeth is quick to act in order to fulfill his desires.

Macbeth’s Downfall

Macbeth is never happy with his actions, even when they have earned him his prize, because he is acutely aware of his own tyranny.

At the end of the play there is a sense of relief when the soldiers are at his gate. However, he continues to remain foolhardily confident – perhaps due to his unerring belief in the witches’ predictions.

The play ends where it began: with a battle. Although Macbeth is killed as a tyrant, there is a sense that his soldier status is reinstated in the final scenes of the play.

Throughout the course of the play Macbeth comes full circle.