Macbeth, a Heroic Figure Turning Evil: Discussion


The play "Macbeth" is a Shakespearean tragedy first performed in 1606. It revolved around the character of Macbeth, the tragic hero. He was a warrior who fought for the Scottish King Duncan and was considered a noble person. 


At the beginning of the play, when Macbeth and his friend Banquo return from a battle, they meet Three Witches who prophesize that Macbeth will one day become King and that Banquo will inherit the kingship, although he would not his children will. Banquo does not heed whatever the witches say, but Macbeth keeps thinking about it and writes a letter to Lady Macbeth and explains everything that happened.


Lady Macbeth was pleased to hear that, and she started to plan a plot against King Duncan and encourage Macbeth to murder him. Although Macbeth did not want to perform such an act Lady Macbeth manipulated him into doing such a crime. She even questioned his manhood, inevitably provoking his ego. Both of them became greedy for the throne and planned to invite the King to dinner and kill him eventually. After committing this crime, the realization hit them. Later, they both regret what they did, and their guilt starts to hurt them. Although Macbeth claimed the crown still, there was an uneasiness inside him. Lady Macbeth went insane, started sleepwalking, and started hallucinating, seeing blood everywhere. She commits suicide as she cannot bear it anymore, and Macduff kills Macbeth at the end of the play.


Macbeth is a tragedy because he was a man of good virtues, but his determination to become the King took the shape of hamartia. He was not alone responsible for his downfall. His wife, Lady Macbeth, also evoked his wants in him; although initially, he did not want to harm King Duncan, being skeptical about what witches say, the desire becomes more muscular as the play proceeds. Lady Macbeth might have persuaded him to commit the murder, but he also lost his morale to his weakness. 


Many critics consider Lady Macbeth the real evil, although she did not directly commit murder or bloodshed herself. Macbeth was doing all the action following her tactics. Macbeth cannot be considered a villain as the external factors around him influence him. His wife is one of those characters who showed more ambition than him, who used him to fulfill her desire to become Queen and got his hand into crime (Pasternak, 1959). At the same time, some critics consider Lady Macbeth to be more ambitious than Macbeth himself. She was considered an evil character who desired power. However, later critics emphasized that her gluttony led to her doomed love for his husband, her devious abilities, and how she wished to change her gender. "Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here/ and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full/of direst cruelty."


The element of love and trust can be seen between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. She knew her husband quite well and was sure he would not commit this crime, although he was ambitious to take the throne. He is too filled with kindness to even think of doing such a vile act. "What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness". So, she told him that she would help him accomplish his destiny. His love for Lady Macbeth overpowered his consciousness to some extent, and he appreciated his wife's plan; he even passed a cherished comment that her boldness seems to show a sign that they will have a male baby, as male is associated with power and dominance. She even triggered his manhood, saying that he is a coward not being able to kill the King and that she even stood committed to him even if she had to kill her child for this. This, even more, left him in awe of his wife, and he was willing to listen to whatever she had to say. "And dashed the brains out, had I sworn as you.


Have done to this".

Lady Macbeth is a character of womanly emotions and is so overwhelmed by her love for his husband that she wants to unsex herself just so her kindness does not come in her way in helping Macbeth accomplish what he wants ( Henry Gales, 1868). Her loyalty to his husband damaged her tender heart as she had to cross the limits of woman virtues to help Macbeth in his aim, but female traits still exist, as reflected in her sleepwalking scene (Hiram Corson, 1889). It is also to be highlighted that Lady Macbeth's character is of double side, one where she is cruel and stoic while in the other, she has womanly emotions and attributes.


The persuasive side of women is highlighted in this play by how the three witches and Lady Macbeth ignited the desire in Macbeth to overthrow King Duncan. The witches can also consider the ones leading to the doom of Macbeth, as they were the ones who planted the roots of this fate in his mind. They also played a massive part in turning a nobleman into a criminal. "Double, double toil and trouble" this line emphasizes how they wanted to create difficulties for Macbeth and put him in trouble. Even when they are about to kill the King, Macbeth is anxious, and his wife calms him down while carrying out the plan efficiently.


Most critics considered Macbeth a tragic hero who was doomed because of his free will. His actions led him from a loyal subject to a tyrant, a culminating figure in the play. The Three Witches recognized the evil ambition of Macbeth, which further fueled the tormenting evil in him. Although Lady Macbeth and the Three Witches greatly influenced what Macbeth has become and led to his damnation. Alongside, it was his own choice and his motivation, too that led to such circumstances. Other characters provoke his greed for power, but he is responsible for his deed and, in the end, faces the consequences.

This article is produced by Hafsah Afridi, one of the contributors to the School of Literature. Join SOL Team here.



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