Macbeth: A Failure As King?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade November 2001

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To be regarded as a great king involves many important factors such as being honorable, gracious, and fair. It is far more difficult to regard a king as being great than as being a failure. In Macbeth there are examples of great kings as well as failures as kings. Duncan is a fair and gracious king who is kind to all of his subjects, and Malcolm has the potential to be a great king through the way in which he fights to overthrow Macbeth. Macbeth, however, through his lack of noble qualities is another story. Through arrogance, actions, and cowardice versus bravery Macbeth emerges as the only true failure as a king.

Arrogance surfaces in Macbeth because the protagonist believes that he knows better about everything than anyone else. For example, Macbeth is arrogant to his own thoughts and feelings. He easily lets Lady Macbeth manipulate him into killing Duncan by questioning his manhood.

Again, Macbeth is just as arrogant when he quickly dismisses Macduff as a threat because an apparition tells him that "none of a woman born shall harm Macbeth" (IV. i 86-87). Only after a short while does Macbeth decide to kill Macduff, and only as a precaution in case Macduff was actually not born of a woman, which Macbeth does not know, and does not even plan on finding out. Finally, Macbeth is very arrogant when an apparition tells him that he will be overthrown when Birnam wood comes to him: That will never be: Who can impress the forest, bid the tree Unfix his earth "“ bound root? Sweet bodements! Good! Rebellious dead, rise near till the wood Of Birnam rise, and our high plac'd Macbeth Shall live the lease of nature, pay his breath To time and mortal custom (IV. i...