Towards the end of the play, Macbeth reveals himself as a ruthless beast who values his position of King more than anything. But it is hard to imagine that in the beginning Macbeth was manipulated to aim for his throne. This meek and faithful character was persuaded to kill the King and later he became a lunatic and strived hard to keep his title. When Macbeth hears of the witches’ predictions, he writes a letter, telling his wife of the prophecies. Lady Macbeth reveals her deep desires and wishes to take up the earlier thought of action- killing Duncan.
However, she is insecure about her husband’s thoughts. As she says after receiving his letter: .. Yet do I fear thy nature. It is too full of the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it. (1. 5, 14-18 ) Lady Macbeth then discusses the issue of killing Duncan with her husband. He first disagrees but then approves of the idea. Lady Macbeth wins largely by appealing to Macbeth’s valour.
This proves that Macbeth was greatly influenced by his wife and that she toyed him around using his only weakness- his vaulting ambition. As Schucking talks about Shakespeare’s tragic heroes: He creates a hero such as Macbeth, who is a moral coward and for a while a henpecked husband, who in critical moments is rebuked like a schoolboy by his wife and who, on the other hand, proves himself a lion on the battle field. (p. 95, The character of the Elizabethan Tragic Hero) Macbeth’s vulnerability to the witches is caused by his corrupt desire, which moves him to take a false step.
Macbeth is aware that the deed he contemplates is evil from the very beginning. He admits that its ‘horrid image’ makes his hair stand on end, and his heart knock against his ribs. Macbeth does not have an inclination towards murder; he has merely an unwarranted ambition that makes murder itself seem to be a lesser evil that failure to achieve the crown. After hearing the prophecies of the witches, aside Macbeth declares that – . Present fears Are less than horrible imaginings.
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man. . 3, 149-152) This depicts the terror of Macbeth’s soul when the idea of murder first comes to him. After every murder, Macbeth’s fright becomes wilder and wilder and he waits for evil deeds to gather more strength through more evil deeds. He is lost in the pool of blood in which his wife leaves him just before she loses her composure. His is lost and there are no witches to tell him what to do or any other influential individuals and so he frantically starts killing people. His innocence is lost after he murders Duncan; his wife is to be blamed for this.
Even before killing Duncan, he says: Then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. (1. 7, 14-16) The half- demented language he uses immediately after the murder of Banquo expresses fear, and although he fears Banquo for prudential reasons, he fears him also because of his own sense of guilt. But even after this, Macbeth’s character is the one, which keeps our attention good. As a famous editor had said -“Macbeth is Shakespeare’s most profound and mature vision of evil” – Kenneth Muir.
Macbeth embarks on his career of crime with anguish and reluctance, as if it were an appalling duty. He feels guilt and concern, and is paralysed by despair after killing both Duncan and Banquo. He is learning that the powers of evil are not to be relied upon and that they do not serve men. Thus, Macbeth has learnt his lesson of too much ambition, the hard and fierceful way. The witches and his wife took him for a ride because of his innocence and his dreams of becoming the King.