William Shakespeare's Macbeth

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William Shakespeare's Macbeth

In William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, there is no doubt that the

“dead butcher and his fiend like queen” (V, 9, 36) are both

villainous; however they are villainous to varying degrees. We are

first exposed to both of their villainy when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

hear of the witch’s predictions, and their reaction is to murder

Duncan. Even though Macbeth is initially portrayed as being

courageous and honorable, he eventually becomes more villainous than

Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth appears very villainous to begin with,

because she encourages and provokes her husband to murder King

Duncan. However she has nothing to do with the murders that Macbeth

commits later on in the play: Macduff’s family, Banquo, and young


Upon hearing the three witch’s foretellings, “All hail Macbeth, hail

to thee, thane of Glamis. All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of

Cawdor. All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter.”(I, 3, 47)

Macbeth begins to contemplate the possibility of becoming king, and

even thinks about the possibility of murdering Duncan. “My thought,

whose murder is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man that

function is smother in summise and nothing is, but what is not.”(I, 3,

138) The villainy that Macbeth has already planned as a response to

the predictions of three supernatural beings shows his innate


Similar to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth upon reading the letter that explains

the witch’s foretellings, and Macbeth’s appointment of thane of Cawdor

immediately begins to plot the murder of King Duncan. “All that

impedes thee from the golden round, which fate and me...

... middle of paper ...

... After the successful murder of

Duncan, Macbeth entered a life of villainy.

Ambition was also a clear motive to the murder of his friend Banquo.

The witches' predictions sent Macbeth into his own world where he

could not be stopped on his way to becoming king. The brave hero from

in Act I has metamorphosised in to someone or something that is

completely villainous. Although Lady Macbeth at times in the play

provided the spark that caused Macbeth to commit murder, and although

she may be villainous, Macbeth is ultimately far more villainous. He

will do anything and will stop at nothing to preserve the crown in his

head and is entirely driven by his greed and ambition. Macbeth’s rise

and fall from power in the play, Macbeth relates very closely to the

quotation, “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
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