To what extent is Macbeth responsible for his actions?
Whose Fault Is It?
In the play Macbeth, Macbeths actions are cold blooded and are done out of ambition and greed. For example, he killed King Duncan because he wanted to be the king of Scotland. He also hired murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance because they stood in his way of becoming king. Only Macbeth was responsible for his deeds, however, the witches, and Lady Macbeth also played key roles in influencing Macbeths actions.
During Macbeths first encounter with the three witches, he learns that he has been appointed Thane of Cawdor, and that he will be the king; but, he also knows that if he is to become the king, a few people will have to die. After thinking about it, he decides that if he is going to become the king he will let it happen naturally. His decision changes, however, once he talks to Lady Macbeth. When Lady Macbeth hears Macbeths story, she wants him to kill Duncan so that they can become king and queen. At first, he does not want to kill Duncan, but then Lady Macbeth questions his manhood When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And, to be more than you were, you would / be so much more the man (I, vii, 49-51). She tells Macbeth that she would kill her own child to have a chance like this I have given suck, and know / how tender tis to love the babe that milks me: / I would, while it was smiling at my face, / Have plucked my nipple from its boneless gums, / and dashd the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this (I, vii, 54-8). Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to commit a murder that he was not planning on committing. Lady Macbeth influenced Macbeth enough to change his mind, and Macbeth does end up killing King Duncan.
When Macbeth meets with the witches for the second time, they show him four apparitions. The second and third apparitions imply to Macbeth that he is invincible. The second apparition tells Macbeth, The power of man, for none of woman born / shall harm Macbeth (IV, i, 80-1). The third apparition tells Macbeth, Macbeth shall never vanquishd be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him (IV, i, 92-4). These apparitions, created by the witches, tell Macbeth that he cannot be harmed by someone born from a woman, and he will not be killed until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. Ironically, a short while after seeing these apparitions, Macbeths castle is surrounded by an army of men carrying large branches from Birnam Wood. He is later slain by Macduff, who was Untimely rippd (V, viii, 16), making him not born of a woman.
Macbeth was the only one responsible for his actions and his final outcome. His wife, Lady Macbeth, and the witches, played a huge part in influencing Macbeths actions which led to his final outcome. If he would have never met the witches, he would have never even pondered killing Duncan in order to become the king. The witches are deceiving and darker than they appear. As for Lady Macbeth, her ambition to become queen caused a bloody mess and a downward spiral in her relationship with Macbeth, and her life.
What does the play say about greed and ambition?
Dont Be Greedy
The play Macbeth shows that the only reward from greed and ambition is a hopelessness and despair. The long term effects of greed and ambition are shown by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. By the end of the play they have no value of life. This theory is proven when Macbeth says, To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last syllable of recorded time; / And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! / Lifes but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, / And then is heard no more; it is a tale / Told