Shakespeare's Macbeth - Responsible for His Own Destruction

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Macbeth: Responsible for His Own Destruction Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, is the tragic tale of the character Macbeth, a virtuous man, corrupted by power and greed. This tragedy could be explained two very different ways. One explanation is that the tragic hero, Macbeth, is led down an inescapable road of doom by fate. A second explanation is that there is no "outside" force working against Macbeth, which therefore makes him responsible for his own actions and inevitable downfall. The text of the play seems to imply that Macbeth is indeed responsible for his own actions, actions provoked by an unwillingness to listen to his own conscience, the three witches, and his own ambition. First, Macbeth ignores the voice of his own psyche. He knows what he is doing is wrong even before he murders Duncan, but he allows Lady Macbeth and greed to cloud his judgment. In referring to the idea of the murder of Duncan, Macbeth first states, "We will proceed no further in this business"(I.vii.32). Yet, after speaking with Lady Macbeth he recants and proclaims, "I am settled, and bend up/Each corporal agent to this terrible feat"(I.vii.79-80). There is nothing supernatural to be found in a man being swayed by the woman he loves, as a matter of fact this action could be perceived as quite the opposite. Second, the witches have to be dispelled as a source of Macbeth's misfortune before the latter theory can be considered. It is admittedly strange that the weird sisters first address Macbeth with, "All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee Thane of Cawdor!"(I.iii.49), a title that not even Macbeth is aware he has been awarded. Even stranger is the third witch calling to Macbeth, "All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter"(I.iii.50)! However as stated by Bradley, "No connection of these announcements with any actions of his was even hinted by [the witches]"(232). Some are still not convinced, however, of the witches' less than supernatural role; nevertheless, Macbeth appears throughout the play to be completely aware of his actions, as opposed to being controlled by some mystic force. The effect of the witches on the action of the play is best summarized by these words: while the influences of the Witches' prophecies on Macbeth are very great, it is quite clearly shown to be an influence and nothing more (Bradley 232).
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