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How important are The Witches and Lady MacBeth In MacBeth's evil actions?

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Introduction

How important are The Witches and Lady MacBeth In MacBeth's evil actions? At the outset of the play MacBeth, a great warrior, is portrayed as a hero. He has the favour of King Duncan of Scotland and is therefore popular with other highly placed people. He has the title Thane of Glamis and to follow this after his recent victories against Scottish rebels and Norwegian invaders was recently appointed to Thane of Cawdor. Thane of Cawdor is a rank held in high esteem amongst members of the aristocracy. Throughout this essay I will do my best to trace MacBeth's downfall from a popular and high achieving nobleman to a treacherous murderer and try to find out where the blame for his collapse lies. The play begins with three witches going over the details of a plan to meet MacBeth. The first scene of the play sets the tone for the rest of the production. Behind the witches' rhyming speeches are suggestions that they inhabit a world where it is difficult to tell what is truly good and what is bad, "Fair is foul and foul is fair." When the witches meet MacBeth he is with his companion and partner Banquo. The witches hail MacBeth as "Thane of Cawdor" and "King Hereafter". While MacBeth stands in shock Banquo asks the witches if they can see good fortune coming his way. ...read more.

Middle

Although, when Banquo's ghost arrives in the dining chamber while the MacBeth's are hosting a banquet Lady MacBeth remains completely calm even though MacBeth is the only person who can see the ghost. Covering up her husband's seemingly absurd actions Lady MacBeth tells her guests to, "Sit, worthy friends. My Lord is often thus." After this scene it looks as if Lady MacBeth has disappeared from the play completely. Her next appearance shows her in a state of mind astonishingly different from the strong woman she was in the early scenes of the production. At this point in time she is frail and has begun sleepwalking, something, which at that time was thought to be connected with people who were mentally ill. During her sleepwalking she begins talking out loud, revealing details of the murders of King Duncan, Banquo and MacDuff's wife and children. This transformation from strong to weak is striking as it shows how MacBeth and his wife have seemingly switched roles with the strongest minded out of the two now feeling guilty and vice-versa. Towards the end of the play Lady MacBeth becomes nothing more than a shadow of her former self, a woman trapped inside her own guilt who becomes so beleaguered by this self-reproach that she takes her own life. Now to MacBeth himself, he is the leading character and the play's title is his name. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even when he finds that the witches 'betrayed' him he continues to fight bravely. I think that for this reason readers and watchers of the play feel a sense of pity for MacBeth, a man who had placed his everything into the hands of those who were to ultimately deceive him. A sad aspect is the fact that until the killing of Duncan, MacBeth had gross potential. He was a brave soldier who never tried to lay blame on others and took the burden of responsibility himself after committing wrongful deeds. I believe that the accountability for the killings lies between the MacBeths. All the witches did was plant an idea, it was MacBeth and his wife who carried out the evil deeds and committed the murders. I don't think that either of them really deserves more blame then the other when considering the first murder but after that it was all down to MacBeth himself. In the two succeeding murders Lady MacBeth didn't have an active role and therefore the blame for these crimes lies solely with MacBeth. I believe another small portion of the blame lies with Banquo because when he first suspected MacBeth of slaying King Duncan he didn't say anything. Perhaps this was because of greed, remember Banquo had been assured that he would father a line of Kings. So, no one really knows where the blame for these tragedies lies but I believe it was the result of a series of different events centred on the witches, the MacBeths and their friend Banquo. ...read more.

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