“How does Shakespeare present Macbeth’s deteriorating state of mind?” (Draft)- Essay

Shakespeare presents Macbeth’s state of mind in many different ways through out the play Macbeth. All these methods do not only give us an in site of the mind of Macbeth but a Clear understanding of Shakespeare and how he views the world around him. He never really gives us a black and white answer however, he leaves us to pick out information in a grayish area One clear example of this is using Metaphors to express his belief system but we have to interpret what he says in relation of what we understand about him and the historic context.

At first Glance Macbeth just looks like just another ‘tale told by an idiot signifying nothing’ However Macbeth is based on true events. Macbeth killed his king named, funny enough, Duncan I who was Macbeth’s cousin. By doing this Macbeth became King. The point of Macbeth and Duncan are cousins is rather interesting as in the play Macbeth, Macbeth actually calls Duncan cousin but in a friendly way. Five years later Macbeth killed Duncan’s father strengthening his claim as King. For several years he made no real changes to the country and was a good king. Several years later Siward, Earl of Northumbria  challenged Macbeth as he wanted Malcolm Duncan’s son made king. In August 1057, Macbeth was killed at the Battle of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire by Malcolm, who later became king.

Shakespeare uses Iambic Pentameter in Macbeth to express his deteriorating state of mind. One area where Macbeth’s Mind Literally deteriorates instantly by jut a few words in Act 5 scene 8 in the  moments before Macbeth and Macduff fight. Macbeth is full of confidence and does not believe he can not be beaten. Macbeth speaks in Iamb which signifies he is feeling powerful and is used to show high status and being a Tyrant is certainly that. ‘As easy mayst thou the intrenchant air With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed. Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests’ Macbeth is telling Macduff that he should just give up because he can not possibly die because he can only be killed by someone not of women born. However Macduff reveals  he was born through a cesarean section and not naturally through the vagina. This one statement ‘Macduff was from his mother’s womb
Untimely ripped.’ Instantaneously Macbeths mind deteriorates and he openly admits being scared and openly admits he is no longer as invincible as he thought. ‘Accursèd be that tongue that tells me so,’ This has only got 9 syllables and is a femine ending showing his mind is faltering. Macbeth is cursing Macduff’s tongue for telling him this. Another section in the same extract which shows his mind is faltering is ‘And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with thee.’ This line has 11 syllables which is called hendecasyllable. The line means they, meaning the witches, raised my hopes so high then destroyed them. The second part of the line means is I will not fight with you.  I believe Shakepeare is expressing that someone may put on a face of false confidence but deep down they may be trembling. This hsppenes a lot with people who have depression. Robin Williams is a key example of this. He did not seem depressed and was still appearing in TV shows and making films before his death. He seemed happy and seemed to not be struggling with any problems however Robin williams sadly took his life. I believ Shakespeare is expressing how are with depression even though there was no medical condition in the Jacobean era I think Shakspear is exp,suing the concept through the various actors who play Macbeth.


how does Shakespeare present Macbeth’s deteriorating state of mind?

‘Thou closest labour. As easy must thou the inrenchment air With thy keen sword impress as make me bleed.’ thinks he is unbeatable because how can any one be not of women born however it is just his face that shows this because deep down he is scared.

‘Accurséd be that tongue that tells me so, For it hath cowed my better part of man;’

False face must hide what the false heart doth know”  from here forth he is now openly admitting he will act in front of everybody for example acting shocked that the king is dead. But in his mind and heart which is being corrupted 


What is Shakespeare trying to communicate about life in this passage spoken by the character Macbeth?


She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
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 stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.


In the extract Macbeth’s wife has just dies and Forres is under siege from the English lead by Malcolm the son of the late King Duncan. Macbeth’s state of mind is crumbling further with every word he says and is in the despair. His power is slipping away from him and all his work is diminishing. Every he loves or has ever loved are either dead or siding in his mind with enemy. Shakespeare is clearly putting the point across that even if you get to the top you are never invincible and as the famous quote says ‘Money can not buy happiness’. Macbeth is now a ruthless Tyrant who will stop at nothing to hold on to the little control he has left.

The message Shakespeare is trying to communicate about life, through the many different actors who play Macbeth over time is. that it is momentary and short lived.  That life is nothing but a short sharp experience that go bye before you know it. ‘Out,out brief candle’ A candle is something which can put out by the smallest amount of breath or even just one wet finger, and even if no one puts it out sooner or later the wax will simply run out and the candle will disappear and will never be seen again. As well as this Shakespeare is showing that even with power you can still be weak in mind. Macbeth is saying ‘Out,out’ showing that he wants death and is feeling suicidal. This clearly reinforces the fact that Shakspeare i saying that power doesn’t always mean you are a strong person.


Macbeth the Equivocator

Macbeth is an equivocator in Act 1 Scene 7. ‘I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other’ He is saying he has no motivation to kill Duncan apart from his own ambition to be king. Shakespeare uses a metaphor he is saying his intent is a horse by saying ‘I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent.’ His spur is his motivation as if he cannot spur his horse on.

Act 2 scene 3- Transition of mindsets

For the first time lady Macbeth takes a moral viewpoint on the matter. ‘Nought’s had, all’s spent ,Where our desire is got without content:’ Tis safer to be that which we destroy Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.’

She’s saying how you might as well be destroyed then destroy and be unhappy about it.

However Macbeth has now became at a more unstable mind where he said his mind is full of scorpions’ O full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!’  Macbeth says about more killing and is know a ruthless murder who will do anything to hold onto his power.

Macbeth’s physiological mindset

 ‘or why
Upon this blasted heath you stop our way
With such prophetic greeting? Speak, I charge you.’- Shows he is strong in mind and not scared by the unknown.

‘Come what come may Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.’- Shows he is not really bothered he doesn’t really mind if he does become king.


The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step On which I must fall down.’ Shows he is ambitious and really does want to become king.

‘Who should against his murderer shut the door,
Not bear the knife myself.’- He is equivocating and does not really know if he should kill the king who is a good man.

 ‘No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas in incarnadine,
Making the green one red.’- He is feeling so guilty that he thinks not even the oceans could get the blood of his hands.

‘O full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!’  Macbeth is saying how he is mind is now nothing but a dangerous weapon which can be used as a scorpion poisoning his opponents and anyone who stands in his way.

‘No boasting like a fool;
This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.’ He is saying that he will do what he has to do the deed before there is no point in his mind of doing it. He needs to act urgently and hes thoughts are useless unless he acts on them.

‘The castle of Macduff I will surprise; Seize upon Fife; Give to th’edge o’th’sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him to his line.’ His mind had become even more unstable he will rape Lady Macduff and slaughter his children like animals and all his relatives. He is a ruthless tyrant who will stop and nothing to keep hold to his power he doesn’t care about others more and is living in a world of self denial and still thinks he is good man.


Stem cell research

Stem cells are non specialized cells which once given the instructions to become a certain specialized cell become it.

stem cell research in this case embryonic stem cell research is using stem cells from an embryo and programming them so they become what we want them to become for example a heart valve. This is controversial and highly debated because some people in life see this as the killing of life. For example Catholics think that as soon as an egg is fertilized it is classed as a life and holds all the same in a way rights as a person who is not currently an embryo so a baby. so by killing this embryo you are killing a person. However scientists argue before the embryo is fourteen days old it could still fail, split off into twins and has no nervous system so this is no were near being an actual human because there is no guarantee it will even live. ‘Judaism and Islam emphasize the importance of helping others and argue that the embryo does not have full human status before 40 days, so both these religions permit some research on embryos.’ so these two religions have some leeway when it comes to embryonic stem cell research. Unlike Catholics and other branches of Christianity Judaism and Islam think the embryo does not have Human status until it is forty days old. Image result for stem cell research

(http://www.eurostemcell.org/factsheet/embyronic-stem-cell-research-ethical-dilemma)- Quote used

Pathetic fallecy

Pathetic fallacy is when the weather or the environment and things which are happening in nature link and express human feelings or a event. In Macbeth in act 1 scene 2 Banquo is talking to his son Fleance about the night. . ‘There’s husbandry in heaven;Their candles are all out.’  Banquo is telling his son that all the stars ans out and it is the dead of night.  This is pathetic fallacy because he is telling Fleance on the same night King Duncan is meant to be killed by Macbeth this is pathetic fallacy because at this moment in time the time and weather link with the situation.


A paradox is when two things are happening simultaneously which can not be happening. in Macbeth in act 1 scene 3 Macbeth says ‘So foul and fair a day I have not seen.’ This is paradoxical because how can a day be fair and foul at the same time and still. be real it can not be


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