Macbeth's Personal Responsibility For His Character Change

1585 words - 6 pages

There is a Hungarian proverb "When ambition ends, happiness begins." In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, we can derive a corollary for this, "when ambition starts, happiness ends." The play starts with Macbeth as being a loyal subject in King Duncan's army. During the beginning act, after his return from battle, Macbeth encounters three witches giving him a prophecy that he will soon be King of Scotland (a title held by King Duncan). Macbeth conveys this prophecy to his wife, Lady Macbeth in a letter. When he arrives home, the two conspire ways of killing King Duncan to overtake the throne. On the night of the planned murder, Macbeth starts having doubts and questions whether he should kill the king. However Lady Macbeth persuades him to carry out this sinister plan. Shortly after, Macbeth stabs Duncan to death. This marks the beginning of a series of murders that are initiated by Macbeth in order to keep his title of King. This includes killing his friends and their families. As time goes by, Lady Macbeth is consumed by guilt and eventually that leads to her suicide. Macbeth who is absorbed in his own life shows no signs of grief at his loss. At the same time, a messenger brings Macbeth news that woods are ?moving?. Macbeth becomes highly concerned because one of the prophecies given to him is ?Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/Shall come against him.? (IV, i, 96-98). Macbeth travels to Birnam wood and there he is confronted with Macduff, a loyal soldier to King Duncan and his son Malcolm. Macduff takes revenge on Macbeth?s maddening ways and kills Macbeth at the end. Throughout the story, one can see Macbeth?s character change for the worse. From being a loyal and compassionate soldier to a cruel and heartless tyrant by the end of the play. His behavior change is influenced by characters, the three witches who tell Macbeth of his prophecy, Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth himself.

The three witches in Macbeth, referred to as the ?Weird Sisters?, first appear in Act I scene III when they meet Banquo and Macbeth who are returning from the battlefield. The witches are sinister and conniving and are under the command of the Goddess of Witchcraft, Hecate. In the beginning, when the Weird Sisters and Macbeth meet, the witches greet Macbeth saying ?All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!? (I, iii, 51). Macbeth takes this to be a prophecy that he will soon be the king and he immediately starts to think of murdering King Duncan. This is seen when he says to himself, "If good, why do I yield to that suggestion /Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair /And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, /Against the use of nature?" (I, iii. 137-140). Macbeth has much faith in the witches? prophecy and he immediately writes a letter to his wife. In Act IV, scene I, Macbeth again meets up with the witches. However before they meet, the Goddess Hecate has already been planning to trick Macbeth. She says,...

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