Placing the Blame in Macbeth
The blame for the tragedy of Macbeth must be apportioned between the three witches, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth himself.
The three witches play a very important role in affecting the actions of Macbeth with their ability to steer him in the direction they desire. They not only use their supernatural powers but also prey on his greed and ambition.
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 predictions are effective in attracting Macbeth's attention because they feed off his desire for what they promise. At this point in the play he is the newly appointed thane of Glamis. Immediately after the predictions, news arrives that he is to be thane of Cawdor. Macbeth cannot help but wonder whether the third prediction will come true or not. Banquo says that the forces of darkness use the truth to win us to harm but Macbeth's ambition makes him unwilling to believe this.
There is an ambiguity in Macbeth - do the witches represent inevitable fate, and is there in this instance the triumph of the forces of darkness, or does Macbeth have free will? If the responsibility for his actions rests with him and him alone, it may be argued that it is his weakness and his ambition that matter. His weakness lies in allowing himself to be bullied and shamed by Lady Macbeth into the murder of his king and guest.
Macbeth Prithee, peace: I dare do all that may become a man, who dares do more is none.
Lady Macbeth What beast was't, then
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man.
Then there is his physical bravery, contrasting with moral cowardice, shown in his relationship with his wife and his succumbing to ambition. His vivid imagination, coupled with his fear of the witches and the supernatural in general, is shown in the lines:
Macbeth I conjure you, by that which you profess
(howe'er you come to know it) answer me;
though you untie the winds and let them fight against the churches, though the yeasty waves confound and swallow navigation up
His weakness is also shown in the way that once he starts his path he becomes consumed by the process and plunges deeper into a quagmire of murder and tyranny:
Macbeth I am in blood
Step't in so far that, should I wade no...