The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. There
are many factors which contribute to the degeneration of Macbeth of which three will
be discussed. The three points which contribute greatly to Macbeth’s degeneration are
the prophecy which was told to him by the witches, how Lady Macbeth influenced
and manipulated Macbeth’s judgment, and finally Macbeth’s long time ambition which
drove his desire to be king. Macbeth’s growing character degenerates from a noble
man to violent individual.
The prophecies which were told by the witches were one of the factors which
contributed to the degeneration of his character. If it had not been for the witches
telling him that he was to be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis, and King of
Scotland, Macbeth would still be his ordinary self. As a result of the prophecies, this
aroused Macbeth’s curiosity of how he could be King of Scotland. As the play
progresses, Macbeth slowly relies on the witches prophecies. Shakespeare uses the
witches as a remedy for Macbeth’s curiosity which corrupts his character.
The influence of Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth also contributed to his degeneration
of character. Lady Macbeth’s character in the beginning reveals that she is a lovable
person. When Lady Macbeth was ready to kill King Duncan herself, it showed that
Lady Macbeth could not murder King Duncan because he reminded her of her father.
This proves that Lady Macbeth has a heart deep inside her. Lady Macbeth plays an
important role in this play because she provided a scheme which caused Macbeth to
assassinate King Duncan. After Macbeth had killed King Duncan, he later regrets on
his wrong doing. At the point of this play the audience can note the change in
Macbeth’s character. Macbeth’s first murder was a trying experience for him,
however after the first murder, killing seemed to be the only solution to maintain his
reign of the people of Scotland. Therefore, it was Lady Macbeth who introduced the
concept of murder to Macbeth.
Macbeth’s ambition also influenced his declining character. However, Macbeth’s
ambition had not been strong enough to carry the motive to kill King Duncan. Lady
Macbeth’s influence also comes in to play because if not for Lady Macbeth, his
ambition would not have been intensified enough to drive him to obtain and maintain
his title of King of Scotland no matter what it took, even if it meant murdering.
Macbeth’s ambition influenced the cause of his new character. This new character of
Macbeth contained greed, violence, and power hunger. Macbeth shows this when he
kills King Duncan.
In conclusion, the prophecies given to him by the witches, Lady Macbeth’s influence
and plan, and his intensified ambition, all contributed greatly to his degeneration of
character which resulted to his downfall…death. Therefore Macbeth character
displays strong signs of a tragic hero, making him the ideal classic example.