Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Macbeth - By William Shakespeare

Characters:


Duncan the meek                  :    King of Scotland
Malcolm                                :    Son of the king
Donalbain                             :    Second son of the king
Macbeth                                :    Thane or Lord in Scotland and near kinsman of the king
Lady Macbeth                       :    Wife of Macbeth
Banquo                                 :    Co general of Macbeth and his friend
Fleance                                 :    Son of Banquo
Macduff                                 :     Thane of Fife 


                                             
   When Duncan the Meek reigned king of Scotland, there lived a great Thane or Lord called Macbeth who was a near kinsman of the king and in great esteem at court for his valor and conduct in the wars.




        The two generals Macbeth and Banquo are returning victorious by defeating a rebel army assisted by the troops of Norway. On their way, they were stopped by three witches near a blasted heath. The first of the three creatures saluted Macbeth with the title 'Thane of Glamis'. The general is not startled but when the second witch saluted and called him with the title of Thane of Cawdor, to which honor he had no pretensions. Again the third bid him "All hail! King that shalt be hereafter! ". Though Macbeth is amazed, he did not believe the prophecy as the king's sons lived, thus he cannot succeed to the throne. The witches turning to Banquo have prophesied though he will never become the king but his sons after him will be the kings of Scotland and vanished. 


       At that moment, two messengers have come from the king and informed that the king has bestowed the title of Thane of Cawdor on Macbeth. As the prophecy of the witches has come true, Macbeth believed the words and asked Banquo how he is feeling with the knowledge that his sons will become the kings of Scotland. Banquo replied that these ministers of darkness will tell us small truths in little things, to betray us into deeds of greatest consequence. But Macbeth believed the words of the witches that he will become the King and from that moment he is bent upon making ideas how to get rid of the present king.
   
       Macbeth had a wicked wife to whom he has informed that the witches had prophesied that he will become the king of Scotland one day. She has told Macbeth that the murder of the king is necessary to achieve this and is pestering him day and night to murder the King. It happened at this time that the king with his two sons Malcolm and Donalbain and accompanied by a numerous thanes and attendants visited the house of Macbeth to honour Macbeth for the triumphant success of his wars. The King felt well pleased with the place and the attentions and respect of his honored hostess, Lady Macbeth. The King being tired with his journey went early to bed and the grooms as per the custom also have slept in the same room with the king. 


         At middle of the night, the Lady Macbeth woke up and decided to kill the king herself as she doubted that Macbeth being kind hearted and good natured may not do the murder. She went into the room to kill the King. But at that time she has seen the face of her father in the king and so could not kill the king. She has returned to their chamber to confer with her husband. His resolution had begun to stagger. He thought there are strong reasons against the deed. In the first place, he was not only a subject, but a near kinsman to the king; and he had been his host and entertainer for the day and it is his duty to save the king from any murderers but not bear the sword himself and kill the king. And he thought that the king is very nice to him and because of that he stood he stood very high in the court. Hence he decided not to kill the king. But Lady Macbeth has not agreed to that and forced Macbeth to accomplish the murder. Hence Macbeth has killed the king with one stroke and Lady Macbeth has smeared the faces of the two grooms with the blood so that the suspicion will fall on them. 


        King's son Malcolm has escaped and took refuge in the English court and the second son Donalbain made his escape to Ireland. The king's sons, who should have succeeded him, having vacated the throne, Macbeth as the next heir was crowned king. But the entire suspicion on the murder has fell on Macbeth.
        
         Even after becoming the King, Macbeth and his wife could not forget the prophecy of the witches, though Macbeth should be the king, yet not his children, but the children of Banquo will be the kings after him. Macbeth has planned to kill Banquo and his son. Though he could kill Banquo , his son Fleance escaped and fled.


        Though he became King, Macbeth could not sleep, had no peace with the thought that their children will not become kings. He became a tyrant and all the people began to hate him. Hence Macbeth has tried to meet the three witch sisters again and seek from them the future and so he went to the cave. The three witches have come and the first greeted the King and told him to beware of Thane of Fife, Macduff. The second witch told not to fear for none of woman born (i.e. none who is born to a woman) should have power to hurt him and advised to bold, bloody and resolute. The third witch has comforted him against conspiracies saying that he should never be vanquished, until the wood of Birnam moves to Dunsinane. With this the witches vanished. And from this time, Macbeth became bloody and dreadful.


        The first thing Macbeth heard after that is that Thane of Fife, Maccduff , had fled to England to join the army being raised by Malcolm with an intent to displace Macbeth. Macbeth has killed the wife and children of Macduff left at Fife. The queen unable to bear the guilt has died leaving Macbeth alone. As Malcolm's army has approached, Macbeth became bold believing the words of the witches and decided to fight as none of woman born can hurt him and he can be vanquished only when the woods of Birnam comes to Dunsinane and waited for the arrival of Malcolm with his army. 


        Then, one day a messenger has come and reported that as he is seeing from the top of hill, he has seen that the wood of Birnam is moving. This is because Malcolm has asked his soldiers to hew down every one a bough and bear it before him to conceal their true numbers. Hence it appeared as if the woods are moving. Now Macbeth has become very bold and came out of the castle to meet the enemy. In the war, he came in front of Macduff and told him that he will not be hurt by any woman born. Macduff has told Macbeth that Macduff is never a woman born, never as ordinary manner of men is to be born but was untimely taken from his mother. With this Macbeth understood that his end has come and fought with Macduff and died in the war.


        Thus Macbeth, who is a very kind hearted general, loved by the king and the people died being hated by all believing the false words of the witches.

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