I believe Macbeth is both a victim and a villain and over the course of the play his character changes. Macbeth is a tragic hero because he possessed qualities of hero: a person from a noble family, basically good, but, plagued by his ambition, ends up committing horrible act, bringing his own downfall, leaving us with pity and terror. Macbeth is a victim of fate because of the three witches, the influence of his wife, and his own fears. Because the witches fueled his greed by telling him how no man born of a woman could defeat him, Macbeth thinking about being made king caused him to perform wrong deeds.
Throughout the play, Macbeth is faced with various situations and his reactions to those are influenced by other characters in the play. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is presented as valiant and honorable soldier who fights for his king. It is clearly depicted that Macbeth is loyal to the King; he nullifies Macdonwald’s rebellion. Further, when the king rewards Macbeth the title of Thane, Macbeth does not express any intent or will to gain more power. “The service and the loyalty | owe, In doing it, pays itself.
Your highness’ part is to receive our duties; and our duties Are to your throne and state children and servants, Which do but what they should, by doing everything safe toward your love and honour. ” (Macbeth). When the play begins, Macbeth believes that he has a duty to work for the King. However, because of the witches’ predictions that he will become the Thane of Cawdor and eventually become the king, Macbeth becomes ambitious, greedy and acts immorally. Unfortunately for Macbeth, this eventually leads to his demise.
Macbeth is a famous Shakespearean tragedy. Like a Greek tragedy it shows fall of a good man due to path he chooses for imself. This man loses his moral compass due to blinding ambition and desire. In the first act, Macbeth states “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir. ” (Macbeth 8). By stating this quote, Macbeth believes that if he will eventually become the king, he should not do anything to disrupt his fate. But, to encourage Macbeth into murdering King Duncan, Lady Macbeth belittles him, stating that he is not a man. In Act one, we see how Lady Macbeth is just naturally evil. She explains how she asks these supernatural spirts to take away all of the good in her body.
Her evil heart affected Macbeth while he was facing the decision to kill Duncan. One part of him wants to be loyal and the other part wants to kill Duncan and become king. Further, to encourage Macbeth to kill the King, she talks about the extent that she would go to reach the power of the king. “I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this. ” (Macbeth 15). In this scenario, Lady Macbeth is criticizing Macbeth for not keeping his promise. She speaks of how she would kill her own child with a smile on her face.
Macbeth is influenced by Lady Macbeth to perform the deed later on. Another series of events that lead to Macbeth’s downfall are the witches. The three witches Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos who used Macbeth’s ambition against him. As a result, Macbeth turns from a valiant and honorable man into a killer who had no remorse for killing innocent people in the crossfire. As the ruler of Scotland, Macbeth’s mental health declines which is attributed to his actions to murder King Duncan. Being the King of Scotland, Macbeth is free to kill those who may have threatened his power.
Throughout Macbeth’s rule, Scotland is subjected to his tyranny. Macbeth takes various steps that were unlike him if we take into account his character in the beginning of the play. One of these actions is indirectly murdering one of his friends Banquo. “It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight,” (Macbeth 33). When Macbeth became king, he was obsessed with the idea that he and his progeny should one day become the future kings of Scotland. Another example was killing Macduff’s wife and children. “What, you egg! Stabbing him Young fry of treachery” (Macbeth 52).
Through these actions and by killing people, we get see how Macbeth changes over the course of this play. Macbeth knows that he has turned into a man so wicked that he will go to hell for eternity without any redemption. He did not have any qualms of committing more sins since his punishment in eternity could not have been reversed due to depraved actions. In his own words “For Banquo’s issue I have filled my mind for them the gracious Duncan I have murdered Put rancors in the vessel of my peace Only for them, and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo’s kings! Macbeth 30).
Macbeth feels that he has sold his soul to the devil. Every crime that he commits after that one will have no greater consequence as his fate is already sealed. As a result, he ruled by terror since he cannot like “gracious Duncan” who ruled with love. Macbeth changes greatly throughout the story. In the play, Shakespeare added small details that demonstrated the major differences in the everchanging personality of Macbeth. One of these details was Macbeth’s attitude towards the assassination plots.
When Macbeth killed Duncan, he felt a lot of remorse for his death and acknowledges the fact that killing Duncan was not morally correct. However, when he killed others such as Banquo, Macbeth did not have any remorse for his actions. Another difference between the two murders is the influences on him. When Macbeth kills Duncan, he is being coerced by his wife, who believes in the witches predictions. In contrast, the murders of Banquo, and Lady Macduff is done semi-autonomously by Macbeth who still had the choice not to kill innocent people, one of whom was his friend.
When Macbeth first receives the prophecy predicting he will be the king and Banquo’s heirs will be kings, he is satisfied with the idea of being king. Banquo’s heirs do not concern him at this point. Once he assassinates Duncan and is crowned king, however, this isn’t enough. Now he wants his heirs to be king. He asks himself, why should he have taken all this risk just to put Banquo’s heirs on the throne? Unsatisfied with just ruling himself, he plots to kill not only Banquo, but Fleance. His ambition has grown and become even more menacing.
The story of Macbeth depicts how the main protagonist changed for the worst, and the consequences of his actions were. His blinding ambition leads him to change into a person driven into more and more depraved action for self-preservation. His new normal of a tyrannical self becomes his world as he realizes that he cannot go back. His mind is full of regret but there is nothing to look back to. The path he had taken was leading him to eternal damnation and he knows that he cannot reverse it. This leads to hallucinations, paranoia and random acts of violence and killings making him a hated object in his kingdom.
His wife also falls into the same vortex as she knows that she has blood on her hands as much as him. What Shakespeare gave Macbeth was a free will. Life will have its propositions and temptations. But a person, especially one with the social stature of Macbeth, is expected to weigh the good with the bad. But his ambition, spurred on by the witches and his wife, brought his downfall. Man may believe that goal achievement is important and the path taken is immaterial, however Macbeth teaches us that path to the goal is as important as the goal itself.