Defining Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play
The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean
tragic hero. There are many factors, which contribute to the
degeneration of Macbeth of which three will be discussed. The three
points, which contribute greatly to Macbeth's degeneration, are the
prophecies, which were told to him by the witches, Lady Macbeth's
influence and manipulation of Macbeth's judgment, and finally
Macbeth's long time ambition which drove his desire to be king. Under
these influences Macbeth's character degenerates from a noble, brave,
loyal man to violent, murdering, tyrant individual.
The prophecies, told by the witches, were one of the factors, which
contributed to the degeneration of his character. If it had not been
for the witches telling him that he was to be Thane of Glamis, Thane
of Cawdor, and would be King of Scotland hereafter, Macbeth would
still have been the brave, loyal and worthy cousin of his King.
"All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!"
These prophecies aroused Macbeth's curiosity as to how he could be
King of Scotland. As the play progresses, Macbeth relies more and more
on the witches' prophecies only to find, too late, that he should,
"Doubt the equivocation of the Fiend
That lies like truth."
Finally he realizes that the, "juggling fiends" could be, "no more
believed". The witches have been important in part for Macbeth's fall
from hero to villain.
The influence of Macbeth's wife, Lady Macbeth also contributed to his
degeneration of character. Lady Macbeth plays an important role in
this play because she provided the scheme, by which Macbeth could more
readily and more immediately assassinate King Duncan. Lady Macbeth
tells her husband,
"When Duncan is asleep, his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail, so convince",
"When in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie, as in a death,
What cannot you and...