Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth has a setting based on Scotland and Europe. Macbeth is introduced as a war hero, holder of an impeccable reputation who has nothing besides gratitude and respect for his king and country. Macbeth’s character, however, takes a dive for the worst when ambition turns him into a conniving villain as will revealed in the subsequent paragraphs.
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Macbeth and another General by the name Banquo are on their way from war when they are met up by three witches. The witches prophesy that he (Macbeth) would become Thane of Cawdor and after that King (Hylton, 1993). They also tell Banquo that he would beget a line of kings but would however not ascend to the throne himself. When the current Thane of Cawdor is branded a traitor and executed, King Duncan of Scotland bestows this title on Macbeth which is indeed a fulfillment of the witches’ prophesy. The initially skeptical Macbeth now starts harboring ambitions of becoming king and is spurred into action by his equally ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth.
Events that led to his ascension to the throne were rather wretched. He stabs King Duncan in his sleep while he was still a guest at his castle hence killing him and also proceeds to murder the King’s guards consequently framing them for the King’s death. Malcolm, who was the supposed heir in the event of his father’s death, fled the country together with his younger brother Donalbain in fear for their lives. This in some way makes them seem guilty hence Macbeth is promoted to the throne by kinsmanship.
Despite his current status as king, Macbeth is still insecure about the prophecy made to his friend Banquo by the witches. The thought of his friend’s descendants inheriting the throne made him uneasy, and he, therefore, sends hired assassins to take him down together with his son Fleance, Banquo is murdered, but his son manages to escape which agitates Macbeth. As a result of this, Banquo’s ghost haunts him particularly during a banquet where he had invited his lords. The ghost is only visible to him, and his behavior causes panic to the others which lead to Lady Macbeth cutting the party short and requesting the lords to leave.
Macbeth disturbed and afflicted with fear decides to visit the three witches, he is suspicious of Macduff, a nobleman who had refused to attend his feast and an inquiry from the witches confirms that there is a good reason fear to him. In spite of that, they put his fears to rest by assuring him that ‘no man born of a woman can harm him’ (Alchin, 2017). He then learns that Macduff has fled England and orders for his castle to be seized, then sends murderers to put everyone in Macduff’s castle to death. This is by far the most heinous act; it is simply cruelty on a much higher level. The story of his family’s murder reach Macduff in England, and he vows to revenge by joining Prince Malcolm who had been successful in his bid to raise an army in England and was on his way to challenge Macbeth forces.
A guilty conscience causes Lady Macbeth to commit suicide before the arrival of the military led by Malcolm. Macbeth despairs and mourns but still waits for the English army. When Macbeth and Macduff engage in a one on one combat, the prior is confident that he will win from the prophecy. Macduff tells him that he was not “of woman born” but was rather “untimely ripp’d” from his mother’s womb (Alchin, 2017) and proceeds to kill and behead him. Malcolm, therefore, becomes king of Scotland and commences discussions on how to restore order.
- Alchin, L. (2017). Macbeth Play by Shakespeare. Retrieved on 17 April 2017 from www.william-shakespeare.info/shakespeare-play-macbeth.htm
- Hylton, J. (1993). The Tragedy of Macbeth. Retrieved on 17 April 2017 from http://shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/full.html