Macbeth's Deterioration Essay

Macbeth’s Deterioration In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Macbeth is a dignified and appreciated character, but as he strives for power, his character deteriorates. Prior to Macbeth’s greed, he is a noble and well respected man, but as he descends into corruption, he starts to hallucinate. During the peak of his deterioration, Macbeth becomes emotionally detached. As his position improves, his character worsens. Many times throughout the play, before becoming power hungry, Macbeth is thought of as a noble and well respected man.

An example of this occurs when the Sergeant compliments Macbeth’s bravery during the battle against the Norwegians. He says, “For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name— / disdaining fortune, with his brandish’d steel / which smok’d with bloody execution, / like valour’s minion carv’d out his passage / till he fac’d the slave” (I. ii. 16-20). This shows that Macbeth was so noble that he was willing to do whatever it toke in order to be triumphant in battle. After hearing about Macbeth’s bravery, Duncan also praises Macbeth; “O valiant cousin! orthy gentleman! ” (I. ii. 24). This shows that Macbeth was greatly respected by the king as well. After Macbeth is given the title of Thane of Cawdor, his greed continues to consume him, causing his mental health to deteriorate. As Macbeth gained more power, his mind continued to deteriorate. His mental deterioration became so bad that he started to hallucinate. An example of this occurs when Macbeth sees a floating dagger. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, / The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee” (II. i. 33-34).

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While on his way to murder King Duncan, Macbeth’s mind plays tricks on him and he starts to see the illusion of a floating dagger in front of him. This shows that during times of nervousness, Macbeth’s mental state becomes unstable which causes him to hallucinate. Another time Macbeth hallucinates is when he sees Banquo’s ghost. After being granted all the power, Macbeth loses all his feelings toward his wife and becomes emotionally detached. At the start of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth share a very close relationship but after Macbeth’s deterioration, he becomes emotionally detached.

When Macbeth is notified that his wife has died he says, “She should have died hereafter; / There would have been a time for such a word” (V. v. 17-18). This shows that Macbeth’s mind is so deteriorated that he doesn’t care that his wife is dead. He doesn’t ask why or how she died which also shows that he is emotionally detached. In conclusion, Macbeth shows that his hunger for power ends up corrupting his character. When he obtains the title of Thane of Cawdor, he has the chance to keep what he has but his greed gets the best of him.


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