The Responsibility of Macbeth for his own Actions

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In the Elizabethan Era, society was highly suspicious of the power of supernatural forces and it was commonly accepted that one’s life was governed by fate and was predetermined. Shakespeare’s Macbeth challenges the Elizabethan ideology of fate by privileging that although Macbeth was a victim of his “vaulting ambition” (1:VII 27), he was ultimately responsible for his villainous actions. Shakespeare has foregounded certain events to privilege that a person has free will and a concience and the cosequences of going against one's conscience, thus challenging the assumption of the Elizabethan Era. The audience is invited to sympathise with the protagonist, Macbeth, and see him as a tragic hero. Before his descent into evil, Macbeth exhibits noble qualities qualities, such as loyalty, bravery and the capacity to love, which invites the audience to respect and identify with him. After commiting henious crimes, Macbeth constantly struggles with his guilty conscience. Even though the audience sympathises with Macbeth, they understand/realise the choices he makes, which lead to his descent into evil.

Each Shakespearean tragic hero possessed a fatal flaw, Macbeth’s was his “vaulting ambition” (1:VII 27). In Act One Scene 3, when Macbeth heard the first prophecy of the witches, his initial reaction was to murder King Duncan, “Yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair.” (1:III 147) This illustrates that it was not fate, which lead Macbeth to regicide, but rather his deliberate choice to follow his "vaulting ambition" (1:VII 27). Macbeth could have chosen to allow chance to "crown (him) without (his) stir" (1:III 157-158), letting fate take its course, as Banquo did, however he did not not. Macbeth took d...

... middle of paper ... could have followed suit, however he chose not to. This further foregrounds that Macbeth was responsible for his own actions.

Macbeth was a tragic hero, who was a victim of his own flaws, but nevertheless, he was ultimately responsible for his villainous actions. This is challenging the Elizabethan ideology that one's destiny is predetermined and is controlled strictly by fate. Certain events were deliberately foregrounded to illustrate that Macbeth was aware of and resposible for his actions, through conscience and free will. Macbeth struggled with his conscience, which humansised him and invited the audience to relate with him. The protaganist, Macbeth, has been deliberately portrayed as a tragic hero to invite the audience to sympathise with him. Macbeth, although a victim of his "vaulting ambition," was ultimately responsible for his own actions.
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