Perhaps the most fundamental theme of Shakespeare’s Macbeth is the inherent corruptibility of even a seemingly good man when ambition turns to greed, and Macbeth himself exemplifies this concept throughout the play. While at the outset he is seen to be loyal to his king, generally considered trustworthy, and displaying numerous other laudable qualities, Macbeth ultimately succumbs to the influence of those around him and becomes unequivocally evil, setting aside all his previously held morals and coming to be driven only by his lust for power. This transition is brought about by a wide variety of factors and plays an integral role in the development of the plot. In his tragedy Macbeth, William Shakespeare employs multiple methods of characterization in order to highlight the protagonist’s transformation from hero to villain as a result of the influences of the people surrounding him, namely the Weïrd sisters, Lady Macbeth, and Macduff, including extensive foreshadowing, a general shift in tone corresponding with turning points in the plot, and the inclusion of long-winded soliloquies to mark critical changes in Macbeth’s character.
The character, or rather characters, who arguably has the most significant impact on Macbeth throughout the course of the entire play, even though their interaction is rather limited, were the Witches, also known as the Weïrd sisters. These creatures are presumably omniscient, though not omnipotent; however, they do appear to have considerable power to influence events. It is they that initially prognosticate Macbeth’s rise to power, implying his fate by proclaiming to him, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! / All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor...
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..., radically shifting from the admirable, loyal, and kind noble to the tyrannical, despised monarch. This sweeping transformation is brought about by the avarice that sprouts from his ambition, for which many other characters, the Weïrd sisters initially, serve as a catalyst. Macbeth cannot necessarily be blamed for all of his actions, though; perhaps, to less of an extreme at least, anyone would react in an analogous manner when faced with the prospect of attaining such levels of affluence and power as is offered to Macbeth, and this greed is an inherent facet of human nature. Then again, there remains the more pleasant possibility that Macbeth is simply more corruptible than he first appeared, and that others might behave in a more morally agreeable fashion if confronted with a similar situation. Though this, of course, remains up to the interpretation of the reader.
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