Macbeth, a brave, noble and mighty warrior, and Banquo, his friend and fellow commander of the Scottish army, are returning from battle when they encounter three weird sisters upon the moors. These witches each make a personal prophecy for both Macbeth and Banquo's future, triggering hidden ambition and pride. Macbeth's prophecies lead to regicide, murder and a downward spiral into depression for both him and his wife.
Macbeth was the one who physically carried out the murder. This is undeniable evidence that Macbeth is either completely or partially responsible for his actions. The witches and Lady Macbeth are the other possible accomplices to be examined in this essay.
The three weird sisters, or witches, gave Macbeth three titles whilst on the moor. The first was his present title, "Thane of Glamis," the second, "Thane of Cawdor," was given to him shortly after this encounter. However, it is the third and final title that is the most controversial and raises a personal dilemma for Macbeth: "All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be King hereafter." (I,3,50) This startles Macbeth to the point where it is physically noticeable by Banquo. Thus indicating that perhaps Macbeth jumped upon hearing these words. This could suggest a guilty conscience; it's possible that Macbeth had already thought about being king, which would explain his surprise at hearing such a prophecy. If this is indeed the case then the witches are not to blame for the death of Duncan. It is possible that the witches simply picked up on Macbeth's ambition. If he had sincerely never contemplated becoming king then the witches are responsible for giving him thoughts of regicide. However, one does not simply commit murder because they are told they are going to become king. The ambition and drive must be real, stored deep inside, hidden from others but still remembered.
As a warrior Macbeth is cold-hearted in his killing, slaughtering countless in battle without hesitation. Being unafraid of what he did and the things he saw in war a streak of violence can be detected in Macbeth. This shows he is able to kill without remorse for his cause. "Brave Macbeth" has earned titles and respect from his king for his great military accomplishments: "No more that Thane of Cawdor can deceive Our bosom interest. Go pronounce his present death, And with his former title greet Macbeth." (I,3,65-67) This signifies the first prophecy coming true. At first this startles Macbeth and he feels uncomfortable in "borrow'd robes." It triggers his ambition and he soon feels more comfortable in someone else's title. He is concerned that the greatest of the three prophecies, the last, has not occurred yet...