What light is shed on Macbeth's character through his interactions with the witches, Banquo and Macduff?

Essay by sadj89High School, 10th gradeA, April 2005

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What light is shed on Macbeth's character through his interactions with the witches, Banquo and Macduff? Macbeth explores the deterioration and disintegration of a tragic hero who fails to make the right moral choices in life. We must look into the other characters that influence Macbeth into taking the path he chose to take. In particular the witches and Lady Macbeth played a major role in his downfall. We do see in the end though, Macbeth starts taking matters into his own hand by killing Macduff's family and Banquo.

The role of the witches in Macbeth is to reveal his potential to be evil. The witches unfairly influenced Macbeth. They 'planted the seed' of rebellion in Macbeth's mind, and fuelled the thoughts of regicide that perhaps he was already considering. By saying, 'Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter', the witches prophesized that Macbeth would be the King of Scotland the next time they meet, and also gave another prophecy - that Macbeth would be thane of Cawdor. Once the 'thane of Cawdor' prophecy came true in the very same scene, Macbeth began thinking about the second prophecy, of him becoming king. This started the train of thought which ultimately led to his demise. The witches say 'As you know, security is morals chiefest enemy'. If the witches did not prophesize of Macbeth's coming kingship, Macbeth would have committed the regicide on his own. His craving for power would have led him to eventually act out his inner thoughts, which may have meant killing Duncan, or perhaps only sabotaging his reign so that Macbeth could have some material reward for the sabotage. If Macbeth did manage to kill the king, however, he once again may not have been able to keep up the pretence of innocence, the "false face must hide what the heart doth know", as Macbeth so eloquently puts it. Had he been able to, however, he would have survived to reign for quite a while.

After the murder of Duncan, the natural good in him compels the acknowledgment that, in committing the unnatural act, he has filed his mind and has given his eternal jewel, the soul, into the possession of those demonic forces which are the enemy of mankind. He recognizes that the acts of conscience which torture him are really expressions of that outraged natural law, which inevitably reduced him as individual to the essentially human. This is the inescapable bond that keeps him pale, and this is the law of his own natural from whose exactions of devastating penalties he seeks release: 'Come, seeling night...And with thy bloody and invisible hand cancel and tear to pieces that great bond which keeps me pale.

He conceives that quick escape from the accusations of conscience may possibly be affected by utter extirpation of the precepts of natural law deposited in his nature. And he imagines that the execution of more bloody deeds will serve his purpose. Accordingly, then, in the interest of personal safety and in order to destroy the essential humanity in himself, he instigates the murder of Banquo.

My view of Macbeth is that he is a good man, with a good heart. But he is very easily influenced, especially by those who he cares about. He does not want to kill the King; his reasons are all strong and well-grounded. I personally think that if Macbeth did not have a woman like Lady Macbeth as his wife, none of the bad events would have taken place. This is because Banquo, who was with Macbeth when he met the three witches, was not strongly affected by what the witches had to say. The witches predicted some things about Banquo too, but Banquo didn't have a controlling, persuasive wife. Macbeth feels insecure after the murder and feels like it is him against everyone else. He has become unstoppable with his harsh actions and plans on getting rid of anyone that he suspects might interrupt his journey to the throne. He has grown distant from Lady Macbeth and feels that he cannot trust anyone. I think that Macbeth must have regretted what he did, but he realized there was no turning back.