To what extent are the witches in the tragedy Macbeth responsible for Macbeth’s actions? The Three witches in the tragedy Macbeth are introduced right at the beginning of the play. They recount to Macbeth three prophesies. That Macbeth will be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glams and King. These prophesies introduce Macbeth to ideas of greatness. Macbeth will eventually follow through on killing king Duncan. It was sometimes thought that the witches had the ability to reverse the natural order of things.
This brings into the play idea of fate and the role with which it has in the play. One can ponder if Macbeth ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the witches. It is however, more realistic to believe that Macbeth was responsible for his own actions throughout the play and in the end it was he who made the final decisions. The witches could foretell the future, they can add temptation, and influence Macbeth, but they can not control his destiny.
Macbeth creates his own misery when he is driven by his own sense of guilt. This causes him to become insecure as to the reasons for his actions which in turn causes him to commit more murders. The witches offer great enticement, but it is in the end, each individuals decision to fall for the temptation, or to be strong enough to resist their captivation. The three Witches are only responsible for the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas in Macbeth head, but they are not responsible for his actions throughout the play. Lady Macbeth is shown early in the play as an ambitious woman with a single purpose. She can manipulate Macbeth easily. This is shown in the line “That I may pour my spirits in thine ear”. (I,V, 26) She is selfless, and wants what is best for her husband. Before the speech that Lady Macbeth gives in act one scene five, Macbeth is resolved not to go through with the killing of the king. However, Lady Macbeth manipulates at Macbeth’s self-esteem by playing on his manliness and his bravery. This then convinces Macbeth to commit regicide. It is like a child who is easily guided. Lady Macbeth knows this and acts on it accordingly. Although Macbeth has the final say in whether or not to go through with the initial killing, he loves Lady Macbeth and wants to make her happy. Lady Macbeth is the dominating individual in the relationship which is shown in her soliloquy in Act 1 Scene It seems that she can convince him to do anything as long as she pushes the right buttons. On the other hand, as the play progresses, and Duncan is killed, there is a reversal of natural order, and Macbeth becomes the dominating partner. Lady Macbeth becomes subservient. She becomes pathetic and only a shadow of her former self. Ambition plays a large role in this tragedy. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have “vaulting ambition” that drives them. Lady Macbeth’s ambition drives her to manipulate Macbeth into committing regicide. Macbeth’s fierce ambition is present before the witch’s prophesies. He would never have thought seriously about killing Duncan without the witches. Yet the combination of both his ambitious nature and the initial prophesies leads him to kill the king. It is Lady Macbeth who states “Thou wouldst be great/ Art not without ambition.” Macbeth states that it is “his besetting sin: I have no spur/ To prick the sides of my intent, but only/ Vaulting ambition.” Macbeth’s continued ambition is present in his wanting to have a succession of kings after him. Macbeth’s ambition is deep within him and because of this, both the witches and Lady Macbeth are able to sway him to evil. It is this ambition that gets him into so much trouble initially. Once Macbeth kills for the first time, he has no choice but to continue to cover up his wrong doings, or risk loosing everything he has worked so hard for. In the end, it all comes to Macbeth himself. Everyone is responsible for his own destiny. This is an essential theme in this tragedy. Macbeth chooses to gamble with his soul and when he does this it is only him who chooses to lose it. He is responsible for anything he does and must take total accountability for his actions. Macbeth is the one who made the final decision to carry out his actions. He made these final decisions and continued with the killings to cover that of King Duncan. The killing of Duncan starts an unstoppable chain of events in the play that ends with the murder of Macbeth and the suicide of Lady Macbeth. Macbeth chooses to murder Duncan. Macbeth, in the beginning had all of the qualities of an honorable gentleman who could become anything. This is all shattered when his ambition overrides his sense of morality. Although Macbeth is warned as to the validity of the witches prophesies, he is tempted and refuses to listen to reason from Banquo. When the second set of prophesies Macbeth receives begin to show their faults Macbeth blames the witches for deceiving him with half truths. While the witches are not totally responsible for the actions of Macbeth, they are responsible for introducing the ideas to Macbeth which in turn fired up Macbeth’s ambition and led to a disastrous and unnecessary chain of events. Bibliography:
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