Macbeth was written by the influential Shakespeare in the 15th century, and has had an incredible impact on English literature to this day. This play includes the characters of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Banquo, The witches and many more. In the play Macbeth, depicts that when the motivation to succeed in life becomes overpowering, other people may effortlessly influence them and they may decide on unjust actions to achieve a goal. these influences on Macbeth include the witches and the prophecies, Lady Macbeth, and lastly Macbeth’s own aspirations and misguided attempts to control the uncontrollable; the future.
Macbeth has been influenced by three main factors that intertwine with one another and contribute to upheld end, are the prophecies told by the three witches, Lady Macbeth’s seduction, and finally, Macbeth’s exorbitant amounts of devotion and ambition which drove his desire to become king to the utmost extreme. In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth is a tragic hero who also sabotages himself by his own incapability to differentiate selfish and ambitious actions. At the beginning of the play Macbeth is portrayed as a heroic, noble hero of Scotland who has fearlessly won the war.” For brave Macbeth–well he deserves that name—“
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In awe, the captain describes the utter callousness that Macbeth has portrayed in battle, but they see it as nobility as he is fighting for his country. As the story progresses, Macbeth turns into a tyrant king who is prepared to murder anyone who develops into a threat to his power.
As the play begins, Macbeth proves himself to be a hero as he demonstrates his bravery and loyalty. He is praised highly by the captain who depicts the utter courage and brutality of Macbeth towards Scotland’s treacherous enemies, “ he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops”. The first thing we know about Macbeth is that he’s disemboweled—”unseam’d him from the nave to the chaps”—and then beheaded someone, in his bravery he caused an extremely painful death for his unlucky opponent. Blood appears as a real and metaphorical substance throughout the play. The word ‘blood’ appears a number of times to illustrates the guilt that runs through the play, and how overwhelming guilt becomes. For instance, Macbeth sees a hallucination of a bloody dagger before he kills Duncan and Lady Macbeth tries to wash away imaginary bloodstains during her sleepwalking; demonstrating how deeply affected she is by her mentality of her situation.
Nonetheless, Macbeth is firstly influenced by the three witches who prophecy that he will be king. “All hail Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter.” Macbeth blindly trusts the prophecy validity without considering that these women are liars and without any proof. He is so desperate for power and recognition, that he is willing to believe potential lies. Unlike Banquo he refuses to dismiss the words that came from the witches, Macbeth instead chose to believe these miss-interpreted predictions. Although these witches are somewhat responsible for influencing Macbeths cravings and urges, they never suggested the murder of the king, Macbeth devised this idea himself. The thought of murder and treachery must have crossed Macbeths thoughts before, as his indiscretion is noticed by Banquo “Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?” Banquo is confused as to why Macbeth is so interested in the words these witches tell.
Lady Macbeth contains the ability to control her husband‘s decisions in a negatively. She is more capable, more determined and more aggressive than Macbeth. Throughout Shakespeare’s play, the theme of pretension is continuously brought to our attention, a perfect character who is ridden with overpowering earnest is Lady Macbeth. After we are introduced to lady Macbeth, she quickly begins to plot Duncans death. Macbeth tells her that the King will be leaving the next day and she replies with ‘O, never shall sun that morrow see!” She is clear that her intentions are cold hearted and purely beneficial to Macbeth and herself and has no doubts about the Witches’ prophecies. As said before, she is a more powerful character compared to Macbeth. In the 15th century, it was unheard of for the wife to be more powerful then a man, this play questions everyone’s beliefs of masculinity and power.
Macbeths “black and deep desires” horrify him and he refuses to speak of them openly. Lady Macbeth challenges Macbeth’s manhood in an attempt to persuade him to murder King Duncan. As soon as Lady Macbeth receives the letter from her husband depicting the witches’ prediction, she realizes that Macbeth is too “full of the milk of human kindness” to go after his aspirations. Lady Macbeth encourages the regicide as she believes that this is the perfect opportunity to complete their vain desires. Macbeth continuously stands by his wife, and allows her to manipulate him by accusing him of not being a ‘man’ and expresses that she would kill her own baby to have their desire fulfilled. “I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this”. She depicts the horrific actions she would commit to portray how much more ruthless she could be compared to Macbeth, yet again challenging his manhood. Yet Macbeth does not put a halt to the murderous proposal while his conscience alerts him of the downfall lurching in the vicinity. Instead of following his conscience, he conceals his guiltiness and continues with his wrongful actions. Even his mind, inebriated by the thoughts of murder, guides him to the kings room. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.” This shows the chaos that is his mind, his conscience and his actions are in constant conflict.
Once Macbeths sinful duty is completed, he is ridden with guilt symbolised by the blood that covers his hands and how shaken he is. Macbeths cowardliness annoys Lady Macbeth and she declares that if she were to act like him, she would be utterly ashamed. She curses at him when he attempts to return the bloody dagger to the crime scene, “Infirm of purpose! Give me the daggers: the sleeping and the dead Are but as pictures: “She acclaims that the sleeping are no more dangerous than the dead, mocking his flustered manner. Its brought to our attention early on in the play that their relationship is unhealthy and derived from lust not love. The tension between them grows as they’ve committed regicide; allowing the kingdom to fall into chaos. The actual act of regicide is not shown within the play; I believe he has done this in order for the audience to imagine this gruesome scene.
Once Macbeth is king, he arranges a dinner to take place after his coronation. Macbeth dismisses all others from the coronation when Banquo leaves and asks a servant to bring in some men, who are assassin’s who he has hired. In soliloquy, he discusses the fact that the only man he fears in Scotland is Banquo; if the witches second prophecy comes to pass then all he will have is a “fruitless crown” and thus no heir. He told the murderers all the wrongs banquo had inflicted on him, which is completely out of the ordinary for Macbeth as Banquo is his most trusted friend, yet he is now plotting his death; manifesting his corrupt mind. His obsession of the prophecies and cheating his way to get what he wants, foreshadows that his rule will not be as successful as he imagined and that he will not be able to forget his deed easily, as his disastrous dynasty will remind him of his shameful actions. He begins to kill the people he can trust the most at his own will, believing that he is being instructed to commit these acts when in reality he himself is the only one who controls his actions.
Macbeth progresses into a confident character when visiting the witches, compared to when he first encountered them. Macbeth arrives at the witches lair with extraordinary boldness knocking at their door demanding for answers. His increased confidence represents how far his mind is straying from reality, he becomes more delusional as the story progresses. Unlike Act one when Macbeth became passive and introverted when coming into contact with them, which was not by choice. “Speak, if you can: what are you?” he is unsure if the weird sisters are able to talk, proving his great confusion and terror by the way he is unable to differentiate whether the witches are human or creatures.
His confidence is gained when the witches tell him that “none of woman born/ Shall harm Macbeth,” which comforts him, because he assumes that a man not born from a woman is not human, or so he believes. When in battle Macbeth is amused when Macduff challenges him because he is obviously human, Macbeth is arrogant and agrees to fight. “Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb Untimely ripp’d.” Macduff depicts the fact that he has been born of caesarean birth; unfortunately for Macbeth. In disbelief, Macbeth continues with the fight which ends with his upheld death, demonstrating the denial he experiences at the thought of being defeated.
To conclude, in defiance of the numerous influences by lady Macbeth and the three weird sisters, Macbeth is guilty of causing his own downfall. Greed and ambition has proven to be his fatal flaw; provoking his actions to be motivated by immoral lust and pride. Macbeths impulsive nature grows more uncontrollable as the play continues, until his guilt catches up with him and infests his conscious which pushes him to insanity. Shakespeare portrays how evil is derived from the human soul, by analysing Macbeths selfish actions despite being warned by his conscience which is ridden with guilt. Although the words said by Lady Macbeth and the witches entice him, however he is undoubtedly urged by his appetite for power.
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