Macbeth’s character analysis
Table of Contents
Macbeth is among the works of the genius William Shakespeare with a tragic ending. In this tragic story, Macbeth is represented as an honorable man that has been negatively affected by desire and force. The protagonist, general Macbeth, is shown in the story as a Scottish military man who was contaminated by the predictions of 3 witches. These witches predicted that Macbeth would possess even more power than he ever imagined. According to these prophecies, Macbeth is ready to use everything he has to become the new King of Scotland, even if he commits murders on his way to the top. After gaining the power to become the King, Macbeth commits violent acts, as it is his main response to the problems. It is because he lacks the essential skills to lead the kingdom and can only sustain power by engaging in violent activities. As Macbeth becomes perpetually uneasy by being a murderer, he becomes vulnerable to psychological torture and distress caused by his mind.
The downfall of Macbeth can be explained with three main arguments. They include the impact of the witches, the attitude of the protagonist’s spouse, Lady Macbeth, and the main character himself. Therefore, this essay aims to analyze Macbeth’s character according to the 3 arguments provided above.
Quotes and lead-ins from the play
The following text fragments illustrate that Macbeth is well aware of the horrors he commits. However, he has zero motivation to modify his ways. For example, in the first quote, Macbeth claims he needs to stop murdering people after his actions toward Duncan. Macbeth proclaims: “We will proceed no further in this business.”
Further in the text, the general claims he is committing the crimes to realize his ambitions. In the play, Macbeth exclaimed: “…I have no spur To prick the sides of intent, but only Vaulting ambition…”. Lady Macbeth’s words prove that the woman supported the husband’s wrongdoings and encouraged him to persist with his crimes: “When you durst do it, then you were a man.”
Like Lady Macbeth, the three witches showered Macbeth’s ego with praises emphasizing the character’s excellence: “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee Thane of Cawdor!”. Additionally, the witches keep anticipating even greater success for Macbeth: “The instruments of darkness tell us truths, Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s In deepest consequence,” as well as: “Weary sev’nights nine times nine Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine: Though his bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest-tossed.”
Commentary and analysis of the case
Macbeth’s downfall results from his failed attempt to follow his conscience and how he was fueled by greed. From the quotes presented above, we can say that the man was responsible for his actions regardless of the number of insults from Lady Macbeth and the predictions of the three witches. While the external forces did not control the main character’s actions, his ambition to gain power drove him forward.
Macbeth’s decision to stick to the dark path was evident in the text, proving that the general was well-aware of his acts and their potential outcomes. Just like the first quote discussed in the essay illustrates, Macbeth has absolute control over himself and has zero intentions of changing his attitudes in the given situation: “We will proceed no further in this business.”
Nevertheless, he persuades himself that he needs to accomplish his ambitions. Thus he has no remorse for proceeding with his actions. In this case, the protagonist’s decision-making process is highly influenced by greed and the quest for more power. Additional pressure from Lady Macbeth’s also contributed to the downfall of the play’s main character.
Once Duncan was killed, Macbeth thought of stopping his atrocious activities of murdering people. However, Lady Macbeth kept pushing that what he was doing was right, and that he did not need to quit.
Consequently, Macbeth’s decisions and judgments are also affected by his love for his wife. Furthermore, lady Macbeth constantly pressures him by questioning his manhood, for example: “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” These words suggest that the protagonist will only prosper if he decides to continue with his acts. Accordingly, Lady Macbeth is the one that sets the man on the course of death and destruction.
Finally, the witches’ role in Macbeth’s life could have significantly influenced his actions. Not only did they hail Macbeth’s superiority, but they also continued to make prophecies that only boosted Macbeth’s ego. Though the witches used wicked ways, it once again proves how much power they had over Macbeth. For instance, by hinting at the upcoming changes in Macbeth’s life, witches use supernatural powers to control the character’s future. The third witch then stated, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!”. Since most of the witches’ prophecies had come true, it became seemingly difficult for Macbeth to ignore their predictions and not take action.
This essay aimed to use quotes from William Shakespeare’s classic play ‘Macbeth’ to emphasize the causes of the character’s downfall. Even though Macbeth’s spouse, Lady Macbeth, and the three witches had a major influence on Macbeth’s decisions, the character himself was most responsible for his failure. As shown in the essay, Macbeth is created by the author to be a slave to his urges, ambitions, and greed to achieve greater power.
These ambitions and greed prove that the tragedy of Macbeth was his own fault. Nevertheless, the witches’ words and insults from Lady Macbeth were also pushing Macbeth to choose violence over his conscience. One cannot prove if Macbeth was controlled by witchcraft or that he purposely led himself to his tragic fate, but we can summarize that Macbeth allowed his flaws to destroy him.
- Shakespeare, W. (1992). Macbeth. Wordsworth Editions.