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What prevents Macbeth from being nothing more than the story of a ruthless and ambitious murderer?

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Introduction

What prevents Macbeth from being nothing more than the story of a ruthless and ambitious murderer? Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is the story of an initially good character who is corrupted by the events and characters surrounding him. Through this influence, his personae changes, he becomes more and more ruthless, resulting in his demise and at last tragic end. Therefore, Macbeth can be identified as a tragic hero. Certainly there is a flaw in Macbeth's character, a weakness. This, when combined with the three witches' prophecies and Lady Macbeth's ambition, leads him to compromise his honor and negate moral responsibility on his way to attain power. Only in his downfall he realizes his flaw but is unable to prevent the tragedy. The witches can be seen as pure evil trying to corrupt Macbeth. They know what Macbeth's fate is and make the plan to meet him right in the beginning of the play. The statement "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 12) reiterates throughout the play. This could mean that what is good shall turn to bad and what is bad shall become good. This links to Macbeth's development. From being a brave and loyal subject to the king, he changes into a character that is ruthless and morally corrupted, not at least due to the actions of the three weird sisters. ...read more.

Middle

She has given thought to the witches' prophecies and comes up with a plan to kill the king when he would stay in their castle. Seemingly she is a very ruthless character driven by her ambition. Having the power within her grasp, she would do anything to reach it. After the King has arrived Macbeth changes his mind, he thinks of the King very highly, as he has just recently honored him and says to his wife: " We will proceed no further in this business: He hath honoured of late, and I have bought Golden opinions from all sorts of people" (Act 1, Scene 7, Line 31-33). These honors and "Golden opinions" "would be worn in their newest gloss" (Act 1, Scene 7, Line 34) and as he thinks should "not be cast aside so soon" (Act 1, Scene 7, Line 35). In addition, he fears what would happen if they failed. Lady Macbeth however does not accept his fears, questions his manhood and casts all his doubts aside. By this appeal she reaches her goal and finally makes him agree, "I am settled, and bend up" (Act 1, Scene 7, Line 79). Macbeth, even though his chance has been revealed to him, still has doubts regarding his own safety ("If we should fail"), but honestly regards the king as an honorable man, who should not be killed. ...read more.

Conclusion

He still, however, believes in the witches and thinks he is invulnerable to everyone born from a woman. Fighting Macduff he realizes that what the witches foretold him were half-truths only. This, however does not help him and he is at last killed. The last scenes show how deeply he believed in the witches' prophecies. Even after having lost everything, he does not realize that they did not tell him the whole picture. Only shortly before his death he comes to the conclusion that this must be so. Macbeth develops from being an honest, well respected individual to become an inhumane "fiend". However, the fault lies not completely on his part. The witches kindle Macbeth's ambition for kingship and quell his reasoning making him vulnerable to intimidation and seduction in the form of Lady Macbeth. He is in many ways only a tool through which the witches can reach their goals of disruption and disturbance of the natural order of things. After this, Lady Macbeth, who is also led by ambition to change Macbeth around completely. Macbeth carries the flaw that at last leads to his downfall. His ambition and to a certain degree naivety make him the man as which he dies. Only at last, when he is completely isolated and about to die he realizes his mistake in following the witches' advice. Thus he is the classic model for a tragic hero. ...read more.

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