Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
A tragic story of the fear, guilt, and greed of a robust warrior of the Scottish kingdom pushed to the extreme is Shakespeare’s Macbeth. From the opening introduction of Macbeth and the prophesy of the weird sisters, the seed of murderous intent was planted.
After the first prophecy from the weird sisters about becoming Thane of Cawdor comes to pass, Macbeth contemplates what it would take for him to seize the throne:
This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, Cannot be good. If ill,
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
Against the use of nature? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings.
He decides that murder is beyond his boundaries and to let fate determine his future.
The thought of murder is not completely erased from Macbeth’s conscience and he confides in “his dearest partner in greatness” for advice. There is no hesitation from her; the prophecy to Macbeth sparks in her a lust for power that will lead to an inevitable downfall. Lady Macbeth uses her husband’s desire to please her to manipulate him, because she knows he is “too full of the milk of human kindness.” She takes matters into her own hands, laying out a plan for her husband to kill Duncan.
Macbeth struggles with the loyalty between his wife and Duncan, knowing that Duncan is a worthy and humble king. Macbeth tells his wife, “We will proceed no further in this business.” Lady Macbeth immediately lashes out against Macbeth’s manliness and pride. Macbeth surrenders himself to his wife, and his vanity gives way to fear.
The weakness of Macbeth is apparent at once. He starts to hallucinate; he sees ghosts and hears voices. By the time the brutal murder of Duncan is complete Macbeth is so racked with fear and guilt he cannot bear to tie up the loose ends. “I am afraid to think what I have done. Look on it again, I dare not.” The self-confident Lady Macbeth is left to take care of the task.
Macbeth senses the depth of his actions when he looks down at his blood stained hands:
What hands are here! Ha, they pluck out mine eyes.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red
Lady Macbeth mocks his fear, saying that she would be ashamed to have a heart as white as his, and seems convinced, “ A little water clears us of the deed.” She knows Macbeth will have to struggle with his conscience from here on out and warns, “Be not lost so poorly in your thoughts.” Macbeth, sickened by his actions, has only this reply, “To know my deed ‘twere best not to know myself. Wake Duncan with thy knocking. If would thou couldst.”
Macbeth, though introduced as a pure and valiant hero in the beginning, is left to cope with the consequences of his actions after he murders Duncan. He went against his personal instinct and let himself fall susceptible to the seductions of his immoral wife. For this, he was forced to deal with the chaotic events that preceded his disreputable end.