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Macbeth

In: English and Literature

Submitted By peter67
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In the novel written by Robert Louis Stephenson, The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, I will explore the struggles the main characters’ have within themselves in their fight for good over evil. How Macbeth and Dr Jekyll change throughout the stories and explore the similarities of each of them and why they came to change. These two books are worlds apart from one another. ‘Macbeth’ is about a great warrior who fights for the King and is set in medieval Scotland, while ‘The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ is set in the upper classes of Victorian England where everything is done correctly and bad behaviour or wild ways are not tolerated. Dr Jekyll is a Physician who is curious about separating the good side of a personality with the bad and begins to experiment and invent potions to control the evil side of a person. However, both of these books have mystical themes about them, the witches in ‘Macbeth’ that can see the future and plant the seed of success in Macbeth’s head and the strange disappearances of Dr Jekyll and the sudden mystical appearance of a Mr Hyde. These main characters, Macbeth and Dr Jekyll evolve from being heroic, well-respected men into twisted, ruthless killers and their nature completely changes throughout their lives. Both characters become so obsessed with ultimate control they are prepared to remove anyone who gets in their way or tries to stop them from reaching their final goal. The obsession of their ambitions make both, Macbeth and Dr Jekyll eventually turn their back on the very people that have supported and stood by them, leaving them paranoid and alone. This obsession sadly overcomes them turning them and leads to their downfall in life and eventually their deaths.

In the opening of Act 1 scene II of William Shakesphere’s play, Macbeth is described in detail as being a brave and loyal soldier. He is courageous and strong but is very ruthless in battle. We know this because of the way his captain describes him in Act 1 scene 2-15 ‘But all’s too weak, for brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name-’ Macbeth is well thought of and respected by all his fellow soldiers; everyone looks up to him as someone they can count on, certainly in on the battlefield. However, we also see here that Macbeth can be ruthless as the captain goes on to say ‘- disdaining Fortune- with brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution’ He is describing how Macbeth was not merciful in the battle, how he killed with such a force that smoke was coming off the cold sword as he sliced at his warm victims. When King Duncan hears the success of the battle was largely due to Macbeths bravery he says in Act 1 scene 2-24 ‘Oh valiant cousin, worthy gentleman’ and Act 1 Scene 2 – 67 ‘Noble Macbeth’. Macbeth is being admired here as a great warrior and the King praises him for his part in beating the Norwegian’s and rewards Macbeth’s bravery and loyalty by honouring him with the title of ‘The Thane of Cawdor’
Similarly, in the novel by Robert Louis Stephenson, we are introduced to Dr Henry Jekyll, a much-respected doctor and a man passionate about science and medicine. He is a good friend to both Lanyon, a fellow physician, and Utterson, a lawyer. The best description of Dr Jekyll’s character is in the last chapter, when Dr Jekyll describes his life in a letter. In chapter 10 he tells us ‘I was born to a large fortune, endowned besides with excellent parts, inclined by nature to industry, fond of the respect of the wise and good among my fellowmen, and thus, as might have been supposed, with every guarantee of an honourable and distinguished figure’
He is saying he knows he is a very wealthy and privileged man. That he is well respected and liked in the community and known for his charitable work. However, in this same chapter he continues with

‘Many a man would have even blazoned such irregularities as I was guilty of; but from the high views that I had set before me, I regarded and hid them with an almost morbid sense of shame’
Dr Jekyll goes on to describe his life as a mask; he was noble and good in front of people but had these deep desires and feelings he had inside him and he felt guilty and embarrassed about these kinds of thoughts. We get a hint that there is a darker side to Dr Jekyll and he hides it from the world.
Both of the characters, Macbeth and Dr Jekyll start out similarly as well-respected and decent men. Macbeth is a fierce soldier, fighting bravely for his King and country, while Dr Jekyll is a great scientist and physician and a good friend to people and helps others. Other people thought of them as good, honest and trustworthy; but we do see signs of another side of their characters, which they both hide, this gives us a clue as to what they could be capable of in the future. 548

Macbeth is confused after he meets the witches and can’t quite believe they are telling him he will be Thane of Cawdor and later King as he says in Act 1 scene 3 69-70 ‘I know I am Thane of Glamis, how of Cawdor?’ Macbeth begins to believe he will actually be king after he is told he is now Thane of Cawdor and he is almost excited at the idea Act 1 Scene 3 142-143 ‘If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me. Without stir’ - at this point he is saying if it is meant to be and without any effort from himself, he will look forward to being King. This all changes when Macbeth’s hopes and desires are crushed when he meets King Duncan. He tells Macbeth that his son Malcolm will succeed him to the throne. Macbeth is disappointed and he sees Malcolm as a real threat, he stands in Macbeth’s way of becoming king. This is the first time Macbeth contemplates murder in Act 1 scene 4 49-50 he says ‘The Prince of Cumberland: is a step On which I must fall down or else o’erleap’ here he is thinking of ways to get rid of Malcolm, The Prince of Cumberland. Macbeth realises his true ambition is now to be king but he also hopes no one finds out what evil things he is plotting and thinking, we know this by what he says in Act 1 scene 4 51 ‘Let light not see my black and deep desires’. Macbeth naturally tells his wife about the witch’s prophecy and how it is all coming true. When he starts to have second thoughts about murdering King Duncan, Lady Macbeth belittles him and calls him weak. She criticizes him and says he was more of a man when he dared to commit the murder. Then she flatters him by saying that his ambition to commit the murder and claim the throne is very attractive and manly to her. She says Act 1 scene 7 60-61 ‘What beast was't then - That made you break this enterprise to me? - When you durst do it, then you were a man. And, to be more than what you were, you would be so much more the man.
This is the start of the real change in Macbeth’s character. However, the point of no return was when he had his best friend Banquo Murdered. Unlike the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth had no part in this. At first, she was persuading him to kill but now he is making his own decisions. He even tells her Act 3 scene 2 45-46 ‘Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,till thou applaud the deed,’ in other words, she didn’t need to know what is going on until it is over and done with, then she can praise him. we see even more evidence that Macbeth has completely turned into a monster. That he has gone so far down the line of killing anyone that gets in his way, he does not see that one more murder will matter, despite the consequences, he says in Act 3 scene 4 167-172. ‘I am in blood so deeply stepped that even if I did wade or didn’t walk anymore, returning would be just as tedious or as time consuming and difficult as going through with it.’ All of Macbeth’s morals have gone, he no longer feels guilty about what he is doing, his ambition to be king and gain power is the priority and nothing else matters. When Lady Macbeth kills herself, probably because she was such a big influence on turning her husband into a murderer, he had no emotion, he didn’t seem to care he simply says in Act 5 scene 5 16 ‘she should have died hereafter’ his reaction is simply well she was going to die someday!

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