Essay, Research Paper: Macbeth Responsibility
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a tragedy about a war hero named Macbeth, who
follows his ambition with evil and who is repaid with evil. Macbeth has
influenced many works of literature through its conflicts between good and evil;
heroes and villains; loyalty and treachery; and ambition and morality. In the
story, Macbeth is ultimately responsible for the actions that lead to his fate.
Although the witches’ predictions are responsible for influencing Macbeth’s
thoughts, no one tells Macbeth to kill Duncan. Macbeth is responsible for
putting power into the hands of Lady Macbeth and letting her influence him.
Finally, Macbeth acknowledges his guilt of wrongdoing and is thereby responsible
for his actions. Macbeth’s ambitions spur him on to follow an unstated yet
clearly understood plan to kill Duncan. Although the witches’ predictions
initiate Macbeth’s desire to become king, no one tells him to kill Duncan.
When the second prophecy becomes a reality, Macbeth immediately thinks of
murdering Duncan. “I am of Cawdor: / If good, why do I yield to that
suggestion / Whose image doth unfix my hair” (I, iii, 143-145). For the first
time in the story, we see a dark side to the brave and courageous Macbeth.
Macbeth sees himself kill his ruler. Macbeth is horrified by the idea but his
thoughts of going after his destiny still remain. Another example of Macbeth’s
early thoughts of treachery occurs when Duncan formally names his son Malcom as
his successor. “Stars, hide your fires; / Let not light see my black and deep
desires: / The eye wink at the hand! yet let that be, /” (I, iv, 57-59).
Macbeth is vexed at the Duncan’s choice of successor and wishes to overleap
the situation with murder. No one helps Macbeth’s thoughts to prepare for the
murder of Duncan. It is Macbeth and Macbeth only who is responsible for his own
ambitions. Macbeth is eager to become king and wishes to reach his goal by any
means, even if this means letting himself be influenced by others. Macbeth is
responsible for putting power into the hands of Lady Macbeth and letting her
influence him. Lady Macbeth tries to persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan but it is
Macbeth who listens to her demands. “This night’s great business into my
dispatch; / Which shall to all our nights and days to come / Give solely
sovereign sway and masterdom” (I, v, 75-77). Macbeth could have told his Lady
to stop her plans. Instead, he lets himself be influenced. Macbeth puts power
into the hands of Lady Macbeth by letting her arrange Duncan’s murder. “Will
it not be received, / When we have mark’d with blood those sleepy two / Of his
own chamber, and used their very daggers, / That they have done’t?” (I, vii,
82-85). Macbeth agrees with the plan, determined to win the throne. If Macbeth
truly did not want to commit evil, he could have refused his Lady’s
arrangements. Instead, Macbeth accepts the plans and goes further by asking Lady
Macbeth to “mock the time with fairest show” (I, vii, 91). Although
sometimes Macbeth wants the murder of Duncan, other times his thoughts show the
contrary. Macbeth recognizes the thoughts of killing Ducan are immoral.
Macbeth’s is conscious that is thoughts are evil, yet he does nothing to
correct the situation. “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, /
Shakes so my single state of man that function / Is smother’d in surmise; and
nothing is / But what is not” (I, iii, 149-152). If Macbeth were mentally
deranged he would not be responsible for the outcome of his actions. However,
Macbeth shows that he has a conscience and that he can differentiate good from
evil. In privacy, Macbeth re-thinks his plans to kill Duncan. Macbeth, reveals
that he knows what he is about to do is immoral, and that justice will be repay
him with evil. “We still have judgment here; that we but teach Bloody
instructions, which being taught return To plague the inventor: this even-handed
justice Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice To our own lips.
He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong
both against the deed: then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut
the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his
faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will
plead like angel, trumpet-tongued, against The deep damnation of his taking
off;” (I, vii, 8-20). Macbeth lists several reasons for going against the plan
to kill Duncan. Therefore, Macbeth has time to think over his intentions and to
take direct action. Macbeth is fully aware of the consequences of his actions
and is thereby liable to be blamed for his fate. Spurred on by is own ambition
Macbeth is responsible for his destructive fate. Through his thoughts, actions,
and decisions Macbeth demonstrates his overwhelming guilt. Macbeth’s desire to
become king drives him to introduce plans for Ducan’s murder. Macbeth puts
power into the hands of Lady Macbeth by sending her the letter that informs her
of the prophecies. Lastly, Macbeth acknowledges his guilt in several places in
the story. Macbeth is aware that his thoughts are corrupt and he knows that
justice will somehow punish him. However, even with all his power, Macbeth makes
no attempt to reverse the situation and is thereby responsible for his tragic
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