The Three Great Crimes of Macbeth

Essay by phoenix123College, UndergraduateA, December 2007

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In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, the title character commits three 'great' crimes which Shakespeare uses to highlight his gradual shift from good to evil. The shift in his character itself displays the effects of evil on a man. The first 'great' crime he commits refers to King Duncan's murder and it is such a terrible crime because the king is considered to be the God's representative on Earth. Killing him would cause large repercussions. Therefore, it is a fitting impetus for his increasingly deteriorating character; the very first stage of his relapse into evil. The fact that Macbeth is murdering such a benevolent man; one who has always held him in a good light, rewarded him for his services, as well as being his cousin, makes the crime even more horrible to the audience.

Shakespeare starts off Macbeth by giving a good impression of the title character traitorous rebel leader, Macdonwald, and puts down the Rebellion.

No sooner has he slain quelled the rebellion, the Norwegian army, assisted by the treacherous Thane of Cawdor, attacks Scotland, but Macbeth and Banquo successfully wards off the invaders. After the battle is won, the captain hails him: "brave Macbeth"(1.2.16) while King Duncan describes him in the following sentence: "O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman!"(1.2.24). These events portray Macbeth's greatness as a warrior. In addition, King Duncan is very impressed by Macbeth and being a grateful and benevolent person, he wishes to reward Macbeth for his deeds. The audience also learns that Macbeth is King Duncan's cousin. Therefore, Macbeth has a good relationship with him. Unfortunately, the witches' prophecy of Macbeth begins to reveal his darker side. After hearing the witches' prophecy that he will become king, Macbeth is startled. This is an important hint that Macbeth has already been planning on becoming...