Who Is Guilty For The Tragedy Of Macbeth?

881 words - 4 pages

To answer this question, we must first consider what events could be described as part of the ‘tragedy’ of the play. In terms of death, there is, of course, the murder of King Duncan by Macbeth, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Following that, there is the murder of the chamberlains, the assassination of Banquo, the brutal murders of Lady Macduff and her children, the suicide of Lady Macbeth, the inevitable deaths in the ensuing battle and finally, of course, the death of Macbeth.
We must remember, though, that it is not all about death. Before her suicide, Lady Macbeth was plagued by guilt, sleepwalking and hallucinating, bemoaning what she perceives to be as blood on her hands. Macbeth, too, was driven from a heroic general to a quivering wreck, content to murder in order to retain his ill-gotten gains. This itself is a tragedy: a young, hopeful man turned ruthless killer, suffering from psychotic episodes and visions of ghosts, leading him to be distrusted and eventually turned against by his countrymen for his tyrannical behaviour.
So who, then, is this tragedy the fault of? Could it be Macbeth? He was, of course, the one who stabbed King Duncan in the first place, and this is generally considered the event that triggered his eventual downfall. However, Macbeth is reluctant at first to commit the murder: “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,/ Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,/ Who should against his murderer shut the door,/ Not bear the knife myself” and then “I have no spur/To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself/ And falls on th' other”. These quotes strongly show that he is not only aware of the fact that the murder is wrong and that he should protect Duncan, but also that he has no motivation other than ambition, which he feels is wrong.
So who else could it be? The next option is Lady Macbeth, who eventually goads Macbeth into killing Duncan. She is also the one who devises the murder plan, however, she has no part in it. She appears to have no qualms about killing Duncan, saying: “Come, you spirits/ That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,/ And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/ Of direst cruelty. “ She is effectively asking to be ruthless and cruel, even asking to be become “unsexed” or made masculine.
The third and final option as to who is to blame is the witches themselves. They famously state that “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”, which...

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