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To what extent can we hold Macbeth responsible for the evil deeds committed in the play?

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To what extent can we hold Macbeth responsible for the evil deeds committed in the play? The three witches in the tragedy Macbeth are introduced right at the beginning of the play. They recount to Macbeth two prophesies: that Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor and King. "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. All hail, Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter." This prophesies introduce Macbeth to ideas of greatness. Macbeth will eventually follow through on killing king Duncan. Once Macbeth kills for the first time, he has no choice but to continue to cover up his wrong doings, or risk losing everything he has worked so hard for. In the end, it all comes to Macbeth himself. This brings into the play the idea of fate and the role with which it has in the play. One can ponder if Macbeth ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the witches. ...read more.


The three Witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas in Macbeth head, but they are not responsible for his actions throughout the play. In fact some commentators suggest that the witches are really within Macbeth himself. Lady Macbeth is shown early in the play as an ambitious woman with a single purpose. She can manipulate Macbeth easily. This is shown in the line "That I may pour my spirits in thine ear". Although Macbeth has the final say in whether or not to go through with the initial killing, he loves Lady Macbeth and wants to make her happy. Lady Macbeth is the dominating individual in the relationship which is shown in her soliloquy in Act 1 Scene. Before the speech that Lady Macbeth gives in act one scene five, Macbeth is resolved not to go through with the killing of the king. However, Lady Macbeth arranges the oaths Macbeth had made and she reproaches him for lack of courage and being less than a man by suggesting "When you durst do it; you were a man." ...read more.


Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have "vaulting ambition" that drives them. Lady Macbeth's ambition drives her to manipulate Macbeth into committing regicide. Macbeth's fierce ambition is present before the witch's prophesies. He would never have thought seriously about killing Duncan without the witches. Yet the combination of both his ambitious nature and the initial prophesies leads him to kill the king. It is Lady Macbeth who states "Thou wouldst be great/ Art not without ambition." Macbeth states that it is "his besetting sin: I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition." Macbeth's continued ambition is present in his wanting to have a succession of kings after him. Macbeth's ambition is deep within him and because of this; both the witches and Lady Macbeth are able to sway him to evil. It is this ambition that gets him into so much trouble initially. However it is more realistic to believe that Macbeth was responsible for his own actions throughout the play and in the end it was he who made the final decisions. ?? ?? ?? ?? Leigh Shapcott 10T (KM) ...read more.

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