Macbeth Essay

1302 words - 6 pages

Shakespeare’s famous play, Macbeth, is the story of a man named Macbeth who kills the present king of Scotland, Duncan, in order to become the king, and the aftermath of that event. Within Macbeth, very few female characters are introduced. The first female characters are the three witches, who prophecize the whole play, and then Lady Macbeth, the wife of Macbeth and the most prominent female character in the play. Both the witches and Lady Macbeth lead Macbeth to kill Duncan, but once he does, they find themselves unable to live with the consequences. Shakespeare purposefully wrote the main female characters in this derogatory way so as to assert the idea that women cause ambition, ambition ...view middle of the document...

The witches are presented as the original inspiration for Macbeth's deadly ambition because Shakespeare believes that women are responsible for chaos and evil. The entire play is based around the murder of Duncan and the consequences of the ambition that led to it, and Shakespeare makes the three female witches set this entire cautionary tale into action. He writes that the witches told Macbeth he was meant to be king and therefore kill Duncan because he wants to blame women for teasing men with the ambition that will soon lead to their downfall. The witches are deceptive: they don’t just walk up to Macbeth and tell him he will be king of Scotland; they make a point to act like he already is so that he will believe it is meant to be. After Macbeth meets the witches, he cannot stop thinking about their encounter and whether or not he should kill Duncan to become king. The other prediction that the witches made came true and their first statement had been true all along, so why should the third one be any different? Shakespeare has the witches cleverly beguile Macbeth so that women can be blamed for his controversial actions. Shakespeare later writes that Macbeth is beginning to hesitate about killing Duncan, but Lady Macbeth, another woman, swoops in and makes sure that he goes through with it. Lady Macbeth is the most prominent female character in the play, and is responsible for keeping Macbeth on the path to ambition throughout the course of the story. When Macbeth starts to doubt himself and the witches' prophecy, she keeps him on track towards ambition and ensures that he does not stray from his mission. She insults him, saying "when [he] durst do it! then [he] were a man", and continues to goad him on, taunting him: "Art thou afeard/To be the same in thine own act and valor/As thou art in desire?" and “wouldst thou.../live a coward in thine own esteem” (1.7. 43-56). Macbeth has begun to doubt the seed of ambition planted in him by the witches, and has started to see true darkness in killing Duncan, but Lady Macbeth manipulates him into believing that killing Duncan is the right thing to do. She calls him a “coward” for not having the “valor” to act on his desires, until he is convinced that he must follow his ambition. Shakespeare has Macbeth realize that ambition will destroy him momentarily before Lady Macbeth sways him otherwise to assert the idea that man would be perfectly alright on his own if women did not lead him astray. Lady Macbeth does not simply support her husband’s actions; she significantly influences and changes them. She is practically making the extremely important decision of whether or not to...

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