Sharing the Blame in Macbeth
The great Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth is a tale about a Scottish Thane, Macbeth, who, seemingly according to a prophecy of witches, becomes Thane of Cawdor, and King. And because Macbeth has gained his throne through deceit and treacherous ways, he loses it. The blame for the downfall of Macbeth lies with Macbeth himself, Lady Macbeth and the witches.
Enter the first act, second scene. We see good King Duncan and his Thanes, talk about the outcome of a war well won. All the men seem to praise good Macbeth. A first impression is made that Macbeth is a good man, not a treacherous one.
""For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name -""
He receives the praise of his peers, and is well respected. What could turn a man like this to villainous ways? Only his own ambition, his own pride could have drawn him down the whole dark path. But something, or someone, must have egged him on.
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!""
Here we receive the prophecy of the Three Witches. Hailing Macbeth Thane of Glamis is nothing new. Macbeth is already Thane of Glamis. Macbeth has not yet heard of the treachery of the Thane of Cawdor, how he betrayed the Scottish folk (as stated earlier in the Act), and thus does not expect to be hailed Thane of Cawdor. Hailing Macbeth as king, is a totally different thing. How could he be king? They already had one, to speak of him replacing the king was to commit the highest treason in the kingdom. And yet the witches spoke the prophecy. At first Macbeth does not believe. And then ...
""He bade me from him call thee Thane of Cawdor""
Ross tells Macbeth that Duncan has told him to greet him as Thane of Cawdor, thus effectively bestowing upon Macbeth the lands of Cawdor, and fulfilling the first part of the witches' prophecy. By this happening, it makes Macbeth believe that the prophecy is becoming true, that he is destined to become King of the Scots.
""If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me
Without my stir.""
Macbeth is totally enrapt with the idea that he may become King of all Scotland. Herein lies the blame for the witches. If they had not given the prophecy to Macbeth, he would not have wanted to become King. Before the witching encounter, he was perfectly happy with his current life. Thane of Glamis, a good wife, great battles to behold. One word from the witches, and *bam*, he's caught. He instantly has higher thoughts of himself. He looks at the greater glories which he supposedly could behold. So, the blame can be laid on the witches. If it was not for their prophecy concerning Macbeth's good fortune, Macbeth would never have fallen.
The witches also gave a second oracle, when Macbeth came to see them...