The Problem Of Evil Acts In Macbeth
There are multiple reasons for people to go through with evil acts but the evil acts that were carried out lead to the downfall of several characters in Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Different characters in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth commit evil actions because of character traits they possess: anxiousness; self-centeredness; and ambition.
In Macbeth, multiple characters act upon fear but Macbeth acts evilly because of his anxiousness. After being crowned the King of Scotland, Macbeth starts to suspect others around him especially Banquo. He is glad to be the King of Scotland but he claims:
Macbeth explains that it’s useless to be a king if he’s not safe and elaborates by talking about how he’s afraid of Banquo. He also explains how he admires Banquo’s nobility and honesty but also fears it because it could lead to Banquo finding out about Macbeth‘s previous evil actions. Macbeth also points out that he is not as noble and honest as Banquo when he says “… and in his royalty of nature/reigns that which would be fear’d” (III.i.55-56). Macbeth is afraid of Banquo because “he hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor/ To act in safety”(III.i.58-59) in addition to being fearless. He feels inferior compared to Banquo which causes him to hire two murders to kill him. Even though Macbeth hires two murders to kill Banquo, he orders them to go after Fleance too because of his fear of the witches’ prophecy about Banquo’s kids being kings. He instructs the murderers that:
Fleance, his son, that keeps him company,
Whose absence is no less material to me
Than is his father’s, must embrace the fate
Of that dark hour. (III.i.150-153)
When Macbeth got his prophecies from the witches, Banquo was told that he would be the father of kings which upset Macbeth later in the play. Because of his fear of not having a son to pass the title to, Macbeth orders the two murderers to go after Fleance. Macbeth’s anxiousness caused him to act evilly by ordering two murderers to kill his best friend and his son.
Other characters in this play aren’t as self-centered as Macbeth which is evident throughout the play such as Macduff going to Malcolm to help his country. Macbeth, on the other hand, wants to know more about what will happen in the future so he goes to the witches and says:
I conjure you by that which you profess,
In this quotation, Macbeth lists multiple horrible things he would rather happen in the world, such as unleashing violent winds that would tear down churches, than get the answers he wants which shows how self-centered he is compared to the other citizens of Scotland who are trying to fix their country. Another character who acts evilly because of their self-centeredness is Lady Macbeth when she manipulates Macbeth to kill King Duncan. Lady Macbeth just read Macbeth’s letter that says her husband will be the Thane of Cawdor and will become the King of Scotland. She had also found out that King Duncan will be coming to visit their castle so she plans to kill him so that she and her husband can have more power. When she sees her husband, she says:
Lady Macbeth tells her husband to let her take care of the preparations of tonight since it will change the rest of their lives. This shows that Lady Macbeth is self-centered because she wants to be the Queen of Scotland and have more power so she makes her husband kill King Duncan.
Acting upon ambition can be good or bad but in Macbeth’s situation, it caused him to act badly. After being informed about his new title as the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth went to King Duncan where he finds out that Malcolm was named the Prince of Cumberland. Macbeth is angered by this and says:
Macbeth is angry by the fact that someone else is in his way which means he has another person to kill. He doesn’t want his evil thoughts recognized by others and wants his sight to ignore the evil actions being executed by him. When he says “yet let that be/Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see”, he asks the stars to make his desire a reality even though the actions he’s about to make are horrifying. During Macbeth’s soliloquy when he was debating whether he should murder King Duncan or not, he claims that:
Macbeth admits that the only thing driving him to kill Duncan is ambition, which he compares to an over-eager horse rider trying to get onto his horse but leaves over the horse. He explains that ambition makes people rush ahead of themselves towards disaster and this is significant because King Duncan’s murder leads to a disaster in Scotland.
In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, many bad events happened such as the murder of King Duncan, Banquo, the attempt of murdering Fleance, and many more. These evil acts were committed in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth because of characters who possess certain character traits: anxiousness; self-centeredness; and ambition.
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