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Self-Responsibility in Macbeth Essay


To what extent is one responsible for his or her own actions? There is always someone to blame or hold responsible for things and sometimes it isnt the one who physically followed through with the action that is to blame. In Shakespeares Macbeth, we come across the same question, who is responsible for Duncans death? The play reveals the obvious culprit responsible for Duncans death is Macbeth. However, this does not necessarily mean Macbeth is to blame, for his violent death is obviously the consequence of certain influences that forced Macbeth to commit the fatal acts. To unearth the truth about who is really guilty for Duncans murder we must explore the influences different characters have on Macbeths impulses and ambition on the scenario of the slaying. Contrary to the traditional interpretation of Macbeths motivation to kill Duncan, the three withes enticement, and Lady Macbeths headstrong persona, are the two factors that influence the execution of Macbeths deadly deeds.

The Three witches in the tragedy Macbeth are introduced right at the beginning of the play, and throughout take part in an influential role on the decisions Macbeth makes to kill. They recount to Macbeth three prophesies; That Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glams and King. Macbeth learns the prophecies true as people chant All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! (1.3.51-52). Then, only to soon find people further proving the prophecies by saying, But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives, (1.3.75) call thee Thane of Cawdor (1.3 .110).These prophesies at first seemed improbable, and as he found truth in them, they introduced ideas of greatness, initiating a power hungry mind-set in Macbeth. Not only did he get power hungry, the witches planted seeds of ambition for Macbeths evilly committed crimes preaching to him that he was powerful and the power of man, for none of woman born, shall harm Macbeth (4.1.86-87). Macbeth will eventually follow through on killing king Duncan. It was sometimes thought that the witches had the ability to reverse the natural order of things. The witches can foretell the future, they can add temptation, and influence Macbeth, but they can not control his destiny. Macbeth creates his own misery when he is driven by his own sense of guilt which causes him to become insecure as to the reasons for his actions, and in turn causes him to commit more murders. The witches offer great enticement, but it is in the end, each individuals decision to fall for the temptation, or to be strong enough to resist their captivation. The three Witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas.

Lady Macbeth plays an important role in this play, because she provided the scheme, which caused Macbeth to assassinate King Duncan. As Lady Macbeth soon realizes the witches predictions, she decides to kill Duncan and to kill King Duncan herself, but she backed out because he reminded her of her father. Providing the scheme, Lady Macbeth is already at fault. When Duncan arrived at Inverness, Macbeth controlled his desires for the time being and did not kill Duncan. The failing of his decision was soon reflected by Lady Macbeth asks Come, you spirits; That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here", manipulating Macbeth's self-esteem by playing on his manliness and his bravery (1.5.45-60). This then convinces Macbeth to commit regicide like a child who is easily guided. Lady Macbeth is an ambitious woman with a single purpose who knows how to manipulate her husband and acts on it accordingly. "That I may pour my spirits in thine ear". (1.5. 26) She pushes him for her satisfaction of being queen. And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full (1.4.45). Lady Macbeth just wanted the title of being queen so she convinced him to murder the king and start this whole mess, that didnt need to be started. Lady Macbeth pressed Macbeth repeatedly and was able to induce her aspirations into Macbeths mindset.

Contrary to the traditional reasoning to Macbeths killing spree, ambition is not the main motivation he has to kill the king. Ambition is merely the product of the witches enticement and Lady Macbeths will power. This brings into the play the idea of fate and the role where one can ponder if Macbeth ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the witches. The witches told Macbeth the prophecies offering great enticement, they are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas which adds to Macbeths aspirations. 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. Even though Macbeth did the crimes and the witches gave him the idea, Lady Macbeth seemed to push him over at the start. If she had not convinced him to kill Duncan, than none of this whole mess would have started. Macbeth did not want to kill his king, although he wanted the throne he did not really want to do that because he swore an oath to protect his king. In conclusion, the prophecies given to him by the witches, Lady Macbeth's influence and plan, resulted in an intensifies ambition, concluding that the witches and lady Macbeth contributed greatly to his degeneration of character which resulted in his motivation to commit regicide. Macbeth had two forces contrary to the traditional outlook that motivated him to commit his evil acts and bring a whole lot of chaos to Scotland. The two forces; the witches prophecies of him being king and planting the seed, and Lady Macbeths constant pushing and well thought of plans all added to his motivation of committing these many evil crimes, and mainly the assassination of King Duncan. All in all, Macbeth should be blamed for these acts, but without just one of these motivations, then none of it would have worked. In times today, people rarely take responsibility for their own actions. In presidential race, in an effort to boost her foreign policy experience, Hillary lied to the public about her experiences about a decade ago over seas, and was caught in a lie. She apologized to the public, blaming her tired state, and her middle age, even though she consciously wrote it in her speech. No one takes the blame on themselves, there are always factors people blame, whether it is a tired state, or a meddling witch. People can blame factors and motivations for their actions, but when is someone going to take full responsibility?

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