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Cause and Effect of Macbeth’s Tyranny and Character

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In any nation, there must exist a body of government. A government too weak cannot make the country to a lawful and a prosperous place, and a government too powerful can fall into a tyrannical monarchy. Shakespeare’s catastrophic play of Macbeth is a story about a brave and honorable man who was enticed into great power and used his authority to assert control regardless of morality and mortality. Macbeth, the main character and the tragic hero, is the representation of unchecked power and abuse of power, thus causing despair to his people and himself.

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“Whispers” from the witches and from the wife ignited a form of ambition inside Macbeth, that fire within him drove him out from his face-nature of a good person. The biggest reason that corrupted Macbeth is himself; he was portrayed as an ideal soldier who fought fiercely and bravely and had sworn loyalty to his king, but deep inside he has a rotten core waiting to be exposed. The moment right after his meeting with the witches who told him about his fate of being king, Macbeth started expressing thoughts of stealing the throne from King Duncan by saying: “I am thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair.”(I, iii) Macbeth fell into the trap that the witches laid for him on his own terms because he allowed himself to believe in his destiny to be king. Macbeth is revealed to be man who can be blindly driven by ambition and is ready to betray the one who trusts him the most in the battlefield. All Macbeth needs now is a catalyst to ignite the reaction; unfortunately, there is no shortage of bad influence on him. Knowing that Macbeth’s viewpoint is prone to be swayed, the witches exploited his weakness and tricked him into being a traitor to his king and later a tyrant. In a meeting between the witches, Hecate reveals that she is very angry because “all [the other witches] have done hath been but for a wayward son, spiteful and wrathful, who as others do, loves for his own end.”(III, v) Macbeth turns out to be worse because after he got power, he does not care for anyone anymore, not even letting witches benefit from him. This underlines how heartless Macbeth has become since he acquired the king’s position. But before he lost his humanity, before killing the beloved King Duncan, he tried to talk himself out of thinking of stealing the throne the dirty way. Despite that, his wife, Lady Macbeth, pushed radicalized Macbeth several times throughout the play, challenging his masculinity. During King Duncan’s stay over at Macbeth’s house, Lady Macbeth compel Macbeth to killing the King by saying that he was not manly enough to kill the king, that he was just one of many cowards who only has shallow words as weapons (I, vii). Lady Macbeth has the second most influence on the things that Macbeth does because she and him are too close; so close that made Macbeth lost his logical reasoning and followed the evil path that his wife told him to walk on. The three factors – Macbeth’s irresolution, the evil prophecy, and malicious coax – made Macbeth who he is, a man with no heart and a manifestation of evil, darkness, and atrocity.

Right from the moment Macbeth was exposed to the witches’ prophecy until he acquired the throne, Macbeth has constantly doing bad things to reach his goal while slowly losing his compassion and humanity. The very first action that led him to his blunder was killing King Duncan then accusing Malcolm and Donalbain for the murder which allowed two things to happen: the first is driving the King’s sons away from the country, the second is to be King. Right after King Duncan’s death was made public and Macbeth was crowned, Macbeth expressed to Banquo that he is very concerned about the King’s two sons by saying: “ We hear our bloody cousins are bestowed in England and in Ireland, not confessing their cruel parricide, filling their hearers with strange invention”(III, i). By committing the crime, blaming the two sons, and driving them out of the country, Macbeth secured his place as the king while raising suspicion of the two sons. This only gave him more power so that he can further abuse his authority; He then used his power to manipulate certain people to work for him. At the same time, this first bad deed familiarized him to the idea of killing others. When Macbeth remembered that Banquo’s descendants would take the throne after Macbeth’s reign, he commanded his goons to murder Banquo and Fleance so that he and his lineage can keep the authority. After telling the murderers to kill his best friend and his son, Macbeth revealed that his friendship and trust with Banquo has ended and therefore he would be exterminated that night (III, i). It was this moment that Macbeth’s humanity has succumbed to the darkness that had been hidden deep inside his own heart because he crossed the line. He now dares to eliminate anyone in his way. Because of this mentality, he grew paranoid and planting spies into every one’s house. This made his people question his authority and seek for help. Knowing that some of his subordinates wanted to overthrow him, he commanded his men to kill his subordinate’s family. Macduff is one of his many unfortunate victims whose family was killed by the order of Macbeth because Macbeth wanted to warn Macduff of his betrayal. After knowing Macduff had fled to England, Macbeth said that “The castle of Macduff [he] will surprise, seize upon Fife, give to th’edge o’ th’ sword his wife, his babes”(IV, i). This, again, underlines Macbeth’s villainy and ambition of keeping is throne; his fear and paranoia led him to do the worst things that a human can do regardless of how many souls have to die. All Macbeth has done until benefit him because they all served the purpose of keeping him in his chair for the moment, but he never accounted for how his actions will return to him in the future; such flaws made him vulnerable to those who were abused by him.

Macbeth’s wrong doings were to protect his reign. Because of that, Macbeth only considered about the outcome of whether his current obstacles have been eliminated or not, thus, he did not consider how his victims would plan to overthrow his power. His very first crime of stealing the throne raised some awareness among certain people; Macduff, for example, came back to his home town of Fife instead of going to Scone to see Macbeth getting crowned. He also told Ross: “Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu, lest our old robes sit easier than our new,” which was implying that he expected something bad might happen sooner or later. Macduff was the first to notice any oddities in how Macbeth got to being king and signifies that Macduff would be the main character who would oppose Macbeth tyranny; as the story progress, Macduff plays a very big role in taking Macbeth down. In addition to not minding his surroundings, Macbeth’s own plan of exterminating Banquo and his son also went against his expectations. After knowing that the murderers failed to kill the son, Macbeth revealed to the audiences that he was worried because even if Banquo is dead, his son gets to live. With that, one day the “young snake” will grow fangs and bite him(III, iv). As if everything has been planned right from the beginning, Macbeth’s sin is the reason that allows Banquo’s son to potentially be king; additionally, Lennox at this point on would grow suspicious of Macbeth due to his actions. Again, Macbeth’s own deed gives away his villainy to major characters who would eventually turn against him. During Macbeth’s reign, Macbeth has done many bad things, but the most important one is killing everyone related to Macduff. In Macbeth’s perspective, doing so will break Macduff so that Macduff will no longer be able to lead a revolution; but to Macduff, this tragedy only fueled is anger, vengeance, and determination to take Macbeth’s head(IV, iii). Because of his self-centered and overconfidence nature, Macbeth expected everything would happen as he sees fit, and this is a lethal mistake because thanks to Macbeth breaking Macduff’s shell, Macduff true anger and power enabled him to lead the English army to destroy Macbeth once and for all.

Macbeth is a character who does things hastily in order to get what he wanted. This is a true representation of how one’s deed can affect the other. First are deeds applied to Macbeth, then deeds done by Macbeth, finally deeds returned to Macbeth. The ones who were victims to Macbeth are the ones who in the end took Macbeth out of his place.

Reference:

  1. Macbeth by Shakespeare
  2. (1501 words excluding references)  

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