How Macbeth’s Character Develops from One of a Moral Compass to a Villainous Man

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Macbeth’s fear of being overthrown leads him to disregard his morals, which is evident when he hires murderers to kill Banquo and says, “Both of you/ Know Banquo was your enemy. So is he mine, and in such bloody distance/ That every minute of his being thrusts/ Against my nears’t of life” . Macbeth’s use of hostile language establishes his animosity towards Banquo, as he states Banquo’s existence “thrusts” upon his will to live. His external conflict causes him to lose his sanity and ultimately make rash decisions that lead to his downfall. This confirms the natural evil present in humanity, as selfish desires often overcome morality. Lastly, Macbeth’s conflict with King Duncan results in him becoming an increasingly ruthless tyrant. Once Macbeth realizes Duncan is an obstacle to his proclamation of the throne, he allows greed to influence his actions when he says, “I am settled and bend up/ Each corporal agent to this terrible feat”. Macbeth’s hyperbole shows that he is fully prepared to murder Duncan, as he states he will exert each muscle in his body to commit the crime. This reveals the impact of Macbeth’s greed on his integrity and further demonstrates humanity’s capability to do the same. Inherent evil is hence examined through the conflict of man versus man, as Macbeth’s downfall is caused by the bloodlust that resides in human nature.

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Furthermore, man versus nature is illustrated in the play when the land’s natural order is disrupted as a consequence of treacherous and greedy acts, which shows mankind is fundamentally evil. This conflict is depicted in Lennox’s speech, as the night becomes unruly after Macbeth commits an illicit deed. Following the death of King Duncan, Lennox observes the night to be chaotic on account of, “[His] chimneys [blowing] down, and, as they say,/ Lamentings heard i' th' air, strange screams of death/ And prophesying with accents terrible/ Of dire combustion and confus’d events” . Banquo uses pathetic fallacy to emphasize the ominous atmosphere, saying there are “strange screams of death” in the air. Macbeth’s greed leads him to commit unreasonable crimes that upset the universe. This extends to show how human nature is evil, as the natural order of the world can be thrown off balance by a tyrannical power. Moreover, animals of prey are examined to show nature’s shift towards darkness due to Macbeth’s avarice. As Macbeth prepares to have Banquo murdered, he says, “Light thickens,/ And the crow makes wing to th’rooky wood;/ Good things of day begin to droop and drowse,/ Whiles night's black agents to their preys do rouse”. Through the use of a metaphor, Macbeth describes peaceful animals found during the day to be falling asleep, while predators of the night arise. This is used to symbolize how good-hearted characters are being killed by vicious ones. Macbeth’s demise is a result of his predator-like actions, which is used to signify humanity’s inherent evil through the presence of savagery. Lastly, Macbeth’s immoral actions lead to the occurrence of abnormal events, signifying the disturbance of order. After Duncan has been murdered, Ross notices darkness envelop the sky during the day when he says, “By th’clock ‘tis day/ And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp”. The contrast of light and dark imagery symbolizes Duncan’s prosperous reign being overthrown by Macbeth’s malevolent one, leading to his tragic fate. It demonstrates the consequences of corruption and humanity’s fundamental evil on the natural order of the universe. Mankind’s capacity for evil is thus explained through the conflict of man versus nature, as Macbeth’s downfall is caused by his greed impacting the orderly system of the universe.

The last conflict that establishes the inherent evil in human nature is man versus self, as Macbeth is ousted due to his unchecked ambition. To elaborate, this is shown when he struggles with his conscience after dark temptations begin to overcome him. The knowledge that Banquo and Fleance continue to live fills Macbeth with paranoia, as he states, “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! Thou know’st that Banquo and Fleance lives” . Using a metaphor, Macbeth explains his guilt-ridden conscience is attacking and stinging him like a scorpion. His restlessness and fear of losing power leads to his demise, while also showing the adverse influence of ambition on human nature. In addition to this, Macbeth’s hallucinations cause him to orchestrate heinous crimes in order to satisfy his desires. Though Macbeth is initially hesitant to kill King Duncan, his decision is confirmed by a vision of a dagger: “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand?” . Macbeth asks a rhetorical question to show how he knew his answer all along; he must kill King Duncan to fulfil his aspirations. His moral conscience is standing in the way, thus he disregards it. Aside from causing his downfall, this shows humans are inherently evil due to their neglect of ethics for personal gain.

 Lastly, Macbeth experiences an internal battle between his desires and moralistic values as a result of his ambition. His character develops from one of a moral compass to a villainous man, which is shown when he states, “I am in blood/ Stepp’d in so far that should I wade no more,/ Returning were as tedious as go o’er”. Macbeth uses a metaphor to explain his shameless mindset, in which he believes it is simpler to continue on his path of murder than return to being a righteous man of values. This journey leads him to his doom, and additionally shows the lack of remorse in human nature as a result of its inherent evil. Macbeth’s internal conflict of man versus man exemplifies the corruption of ambition in human nature, justifying that humanity is fundamentally evil.     

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