Macbeth?s strive for power affects every aspect of his life, and this motivation eventually leads to his demise. Many different factors play a pivotal role in deciding his ill-fated future. With his wife?s cajoling, and the three witches? foretelling of his future Macbeth, will stop at nothing to gain position as King of Scotland. The witches and their prophecies are the first major influence on Macbeth?s actions. Macbeth, Thane of Glamis is content with his position, until the three witches tell him, “hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor, thou shalt be King hereafter.” (I, iii.). After hearing this, Macbeth and Banquo, his loyal friend, find out that King Duncan has named Macbeth “Thane of Cawdor.” They contemplate about how the rest of the prophecy will come true. The witches also advise them that Banquo?s son would be King one day. Macbeth writes a letter to Lady Macbeth explaining what has happened. Macbeth comes to the realization that for him to in fact become King, he will have to defeat recently named heir to the throne, Malcolm, the King?s son, and also prevent Banqou?s son from gaining access to the throne. Macbeth returns home and he and his wife must play host to the King. Lady Macbeth begins to contemplate what “impedes thee from the golden round” (I, v). She desperately wants her Macbeth to be King and she calls upon the “aids of sprits”(I, v) to help her in her quest for the throne. Lady Macbeth obviously has a very different reaction to Macbeth’s. She seems almost more bloodthirsty so already we know she is very keen for Macbeth to fulfil this prophecy. Lady Macbeth requests that the, “sprits that tend on mortal thoughts,” to unsex her, and fill her with the “direst cruelty…” (I, v.). The supernatural world will aid her in the hardening of her heart and make it possible for her to carry out her malicious plan. Lady Macbeth wishes to throw out her morality for the sake of gaining a title. With the help of invisible sprits, she wants to make herself able to commit a heinous act of murder to make her dreams of the royal life come true, without having reservations or remorse. She approaches Macbeth with her intent to kill King Duncan. Macbeth, although wanting the prophecy to come true, and become king, lacks the enthusiasm as his wife does, to commit the murder. Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to act on his desires or he will think of himself as a coward. All of this goes straight into Macbeth?s mind, which is full of ideas for glory and honour (after all he is proclaimed a great warrior). Maybe the dishonour that cowardice would bring is to great a burden for “brave Macbeth”. King Duncan is invited to Macbeth?s castle, and it is there that he will be killed. Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to “look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.” (I, v). Lady Macbeth wants Macbeth to act as he normally would, to appear to be happy with the King?s visit and keep his malevolent plan in the confines of his mind. Macbeth still has reservations but, Lady Macbeth has already taken preparations towards the evil act, and his mind begins to wander. Macbeth shows signs of insanity, as he follows a dagger up stairs to King Duncan?s bedroom, “is this a dagger which I see before me, let me clutch thee.” (II, i) He chases it and King Duncan?s reign as King of Scotland ends. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth the “deed is done.” (II, ii) it seems that not only is he struggling with his morality but also his sanity this could also be a factor in the downward spiral of Macbeth.
After he is named king, Macbeth?s misery and eventual downfall is caused by his own insecurities and misguided determination to take control of his future. The witches? prophecy concerning Banquo?s descendant?s and Macbeth?s feeling of inferiority to Banquo lead Macbeth to arrange for the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance. Having Banquo around reminds Macbeth of the evil deed that he had committed. Also, the thought that it will be Banquo?s son to take over the thrown from Macbeth rather than his own children makes him very angry. Macbeth believes that “none but he [Banquo]…I do fear.” (III, I) So far I have summarized the events leading toward the death of Duncan. I am yet to really comment on the question. So what affect did the supernatural have upon Macbeth will be the first part of the question I will address.
I believe this is the first step onto the road of destruction as far as Macbeth is concerned. There is a great contrast before and after the he meets the weird sisters. There affect has changed him from the hero to the traitor he has become. Although this is effectively putting the blame entirely upon the witches I think that the statement is correct. If you will they plant the seed of evil within him. Almost as if fate not only exists, but is inescapable. This also fits in with the supernatural theme (fate that is) as we must remember that the sisters are the first but not the last supernatural influence Macbeth experiences.
The other encounter of the supernatural is the appearance of the dagger. This object seems to be confirming the fate the witches have given Macbeth. As it restarts his urge for power and also I believe it is an urge to appease his wife and her own appetite for power. However I will talk about this in more detail later on. As the dagger appears Macbeth turns from a self-doubting man with a strong moral code into the murder that takes Duncan?s life. These glimpses into the future open a few questions. Firstly what are the witches intentions and secondly would this have happened if not for their intervention. The first question seems quite obvious as in the time Macbeth wrote there was only one purpose for a witch and this was to be evil. If this is the case I suspect it was there intention to sow the seeds of evil and bring about the downfall of Macbeth. After all the rise of Macbeth has many devastating repercussions. So the witches do in affect succeed. The second question I cannot answer as we only see what does happen not what might of happened. However I believe that Macbeth would not have taken the life of Duncan without serious encouragement (which I believe the witches supplied).
The influence of his wife is greatly over exaggerated in my opinion. She may have a eviler persona than Macbeth but this does not mean she is responsible for his actions. Many people say she had a craze for power and that she forced Macbeth into the murder. I believe that the supernatural affected Lady Macbeth as much as Macbeth himself. I say this because it is presumed before the witches visit Lady Macbeth and Macbeth lived perfectly normal lives. I doubt either of them mentioned murdering Duncan. The letter is the turning point for lady Macbeth just as the meeting with the weird sisters is Macbeth’s. From that point on she is drastically transformed. Although I am defending her a lot by saying Macbeth is responsible his own actions she is also responsible for hers. And like it or not she does encourage Macbeth into the murder of Duncan.
Macbeth himself should seem like the obvious person to blame. However now people can pull off all sorts of tricks by blaming films, TV and computer games for their violent tendencies. So maybe we should apply the same philosophy to Macbeth. If Macbeth’s actions are to be blamed on outside influences then we can look at the two sources I have already mentioned (lady Macbeth and the supernatural). However when I look at Macbeth I see different reason to blame Lady Macbeth then I do when I look at her actions. I think the fact that she wants him to do it is a lot worse then the fact she encourages him to. If he does indeed love his wife he will try to make her as happy as possible. Maybe even if this involves murder. However strong his ambition is I don?t think it has ever been his ambition to kill his king. I think this is true even after he has committed the murder, as he is far from happy in the aftermath. In truth I think he was content and that only the strangest of circumstances could change his stance on life. In the end I don?t think his stance was changed.
I see the downfall of Macbeth leading to Duncan?s murder like a out of a tree. The witches pushed him of the top, however on his downward fall there are branches to grab and save him. One was his wife and this branch fell off before he reached it. The other branch was himself. I believe this is what puts him in and out of his states of fear, regret and evilness. However the force of gravity (the witches in this particular metaphor) was too great.
So far my argument has been very contradictory. On one hand I think the evil fate of macbeth was pre arranged by the supernatural and on the other I am saying that people are responsible for there own actions. It all comes down to the question do you believe in fate? If you do most the blame rests on the supernatural. However if you do not then only part of the blame rests there the rest is shared equally around the three of them.