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To what extent is Macbeth responsible for the events of the play?

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Introduction

To what extent is Macbeth responsible for the events of the play? I think that Macbeth, the main character in the play, is mainly responsible for the events that occur, but there are other characters - the witches and Lady Macbeth, which play an important part in the murder of King Duncan. The witches' prophecy started the idea of becoming King in Macbeth's mind. The first witch says: "All hail Macbeth hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!" When the witches said this, Macbeth wondered how they knew who he was, and this perhaps earned them a little trust. The second witch says: "All hail Macbeth hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!" Macbeth could not imagine how this could be true. Even when told that he is now Thane of Cawdor, he still doubts it, "The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?" His trust in the Witches is increased after the second prophecy comes true. "What can the devil speak true?" This shows surprise from Banquo at it coming true but he realises it could be a trick. Macbeth then starts to wonder whether the third prophecy could possibly come true: "All hail Macbeth that shalt be King hereafter!" ...read more.

Middle

This could mean ambition like a rider who jumps over his horse and falls down on the other side, meaning if he did murder Duncan, afterwards it could all go horribly wrong. Still Macbeth stays away from the idea of murder, "We will proceed no further in this business." Macbeth had decided to not go ahead with the murder, and: "He hath honoured me of late ... Not cast aside so soon." Macbeth would like to enjoy the honour and praise he was receiving from the King and others a little longer. Lady Macbeth knows how to toy with Macbeth. She knows his weaknesses, so that she can make him do almost anything she wants by using them. Lady Macbeth: "From this time such I account thy love." She is saying, if you really love me then you would murder Duncan. Lady Macbeth: "Art though afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art desire? Wouldst thou esteem'st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem." Here Lady Macbeth calls him a coward. But Macbeth is clearly not a coward - as shown in the first section of the play: "For brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name." ...read more.

Conclusion

The second prophecies Macbeth received caused him to try and kill Macduff. "Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, beware Macduff." But even when he hears that Macduff has fled, he orders Macduff's household to be killed out of sheer spite, because he cannot get at Macduff, "The castle of Macduff I will surprise, seize upon Fife, give to the edge o' the' sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line." This is without Lady Macbeth's help, so again he is fully responsible for Macduff's death. The witches' second prophecy makes Macbeth feel confident and invincible. The second apparition says: "for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth". And, the third apparition says: "Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him." Great Birnam wood moving seemed impossible and Macbeth could not imagine or a man that was not born of a woman happening, so he thought he had nothing to fear. I think that Macbeth had the biggest part to play in the events of the play, because he murdered Duncan and afterwards carried on killing others, sometimes out of sheer spite. But without the witches' prophecies and Lady Macbeth's persuasion, would he have ever killed Duncan, which resulted in him killing others because of his worry and to cover up his guilt? ...read more.

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