How William Shakespeare Develops Macbeth’s Character Throughout the Play

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Macbeth is characterized as a tragic hero whose downfall is caused by his own flaws. Many factors influence his actions, but it is his motivations that lead to his fall. The witches’ prophecy leads Macbeth into a false sense of superiority making him feel invincible to any of the repercussions from his immoral actions. This leads him to seek more power and creates a sense of greed within him that controls him the more power hungry he becomes. Moreover, Macbeth’s sense of pride arises from Lady Macbeth’s manipulative actions which aid in his inevitable downfall. Macbeth has the morals to not be complicit in Lady Macbeth’s immoral ideas; however, he believes that doing the right thing, such as not committing murder, will make him less of a man in his wife’s eyes. Instead, Macbeth accepts her ideas and follows along with Lady Macbeth’s plan. Macbeth acknowledges his guilt of wrongdoing and reveals that he knows what he is about to do is immoral; but at this point, his greed has taken over, and he becomes unfazed to the idea of murder. Macbeth’s ambitions lead him to greed which makes him willing to do anything in order to gain his position of power. Although Macbeth is influenced by forces around him, the root of his problems is caused by his own motivations.

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William Shakespeare develops Macbeth’s character throughout the play by making a path for power. Through the progression of the play, Macbeth has changed from being honorable to power hungry. Macbeth’s gluttony for power takes over, and it leads him to killing the king. Macbeth’s desire for power is displayed by his proclamation, “Thou sure and firm-set earth, hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear.” The witches prophecy is going into Macbeth’s head and making him anxious. Macbeth finds it unfair how he is destined to wear the crown while also being destined to death. His anxiety is expressed by the statement, “Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown and put a barren scepter in my grip.” Macbeth decides to send men to kill Banquo and Fleance so they cannot usurp his power from him. Macbeth goes to the witches’ cave and demands them to show him his future by exclaiming, “I conjure you by that which you profess- howe’er you come to know it- answer me.” This incident exhibits how Macbeth’s desire for power is changing his character. It also shows the lengths Macbeth will go through to fulfill his prophecy as shown in his demand to the witches, “Though you untie the winds and let them fight.” Macbeth does not care what he has to go through to get what he wants.

Macbeth is oblivious to what power can do to someone. In his search for power, he displays his sense of pride which leads him to commit actions he once thought were unforgivable. His wife, Lady Macbeth, unearths that pride from Macbeth by taunting him and telling him that he will be seen as less than a man if he does not obtain power. Although Macbeth refuses to take part in murdering someone, he eventually caves into his wife and participates in her plan. The next time Macbeth plans to murder someone, the idea does not disturb him anymore since he has lost his sense of morals. Near the end of the play when Macbeth comes to term with his death, he discovers what power and greed has done to him. He describes life as short as indicated by his realization, “Out, out brief candle!citation” He realizes his mistakes when he points out his flaws and realizes how meaningless his life is. Macbeth has been overcome with his search for power leading him into a hole that he can not get out of.

Critics would claim that Lady Macbeth is at fault for Macbeth’s demise by instilling malicious thoughts into his head; however, it is Macbeth’s pride that weakens him and allows those thoughts to infiltrate his mind. Additionally, Macbeth was put under the witches’ spell aimed at disorienting him as proved by their spell, “Shall raise with such artificial sprites… shall draw him onto his confusion.citation” Although one could argue that the witches are at fault as well, Macbeth would not have been in this situation had he fully understood his prophecy and not let it go to his head.

Macbeth’s attempt to control his own future and bury the past was not worthwhile and could have been performed differently. Macbeth is greatly influenced by the three witches and Lady Macbeth, but their influence only brings out the desire for power and pride that Macbeth already had in him. He chose to disregard the witches’ prophecy and assumed that it would fulfill itself regardless of Macbeth’s action. Moreover, Lady Macbeth’s manipulation forces Macbeth into doing things he did not want to do. However, it is his pride that led him to believe that he would not be a man if he did not go through any means necessary to become powerful. 

At the end of his life, Macbeth acknowledges all the immoral and corrupt deeds he has done to obtain power; he also realizes that he cannot undo them and must come to terms with them. Macbeth’s attempt to acquire power shows how futile power can be if one has to lose their morals in order to gain it. 

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