How Is Heroism Portrayed in Macbeth Act1 Scene 2 and the Ww1 Poetry We'Ve Studied

This is a sample essay which is a work in progress.

In the writings of William Shakespeare, Winnifred Letts and Siegfried Sassoon, heroes are presented in several ways. In modern interpretations, a hero is regarded as someone of exceptional courage and strength. This view of heroism is in some ways supported by Shakespeare’s characterisation of his tragic hero, Macbeth, but is also questioned through the writing of the war poets to be discussed.
In Act 1 Scene 2, Shakespeare introduces the theme of heroism through Macbeth. When the audience is first introduced to Macbeth, they only hear of him by name and reputation rather than seeing or hearing him. This initially indicates to the audience that Macbeth is a well respected person in the Scottish army. Shakespeare is illustrating that a hero is also a standard bearer. In other words, he and others hold high expectations of his actions. This standard is set when the Sergeant describes Macbeth’s actions as being ‘well deserved’. By using the word ‘well’ it suggests that these actions of bravery went over and above what may have been expected because as the Sergeant goes on further to say, he ‘Disdained Fortune’, he fought despite the odds clearly being stacked against him.   The importance of his actions is seen in the actual structure of the Sergeant’s speech. Upon entering from the battlefield to give his report, the Sergeant describes the situation as ‘doubtful’ and uses the simile ‘as two spent swimmers’ to describe how futile the situation seemed. His speech becomes positive when Macbeth is mentioned.   Shakespeare perhaps does this to show how instrumental Macbeth was to the success of the Scottish army and sets him up as a figurehead and saviour because it is only after he is mentioned that the mood of the scene lifts and the situation in the battle improves.
These sentiments are echoed in Sassoon’s poem ‘The Redeemer’. The poem begins with the repetition of the word ‘darkness’. Darkness is usually...