In this ever dynamic world, nothing seems to be unchangeable except our mighty God. Any force, external or internal, causes one’s nature to change. It may be a change in physical or psychological, either way, change is inevitable to oneself. In the Shakespearean play Macbeth, psychological changes appear in the character of Macbeth himself. Macbeth undergoes three major character transformations throughout the play. First, Macbeth paid high reverence to King Duncan until Macbeth became aware of the witches’ first three prophecies which unleashed his inner evil and made him ambitious enough to crave for the King’s throne. Second, Macbeth who hated the thought of murder was not able to defy his wife’s evil prodding which led him to become a ruthless killer. Third, because of Macbeth’s overwhelming desire to become a king, he gave up his moral values and engrossed himself in wrongdoings such as murder. Through analyzing the scenes and examining the quotations from the play, I will prove that because of the witches’ prophesies, his wife’s prodding, and his ambition of becoming a king, Macbeth who was once a noble and honorable man was turned into a merciless immoral brute.
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The first force that changed Macbeth into a dreadfully ambitious man was the witches’ first three prophecies. The first prophecy “All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.17) was of Macbeth’s knowledge since he knew that by Sinel’s death, he will become a thane of Glamis. This prophecy contributed to the fact that the witches might be telling the truth. The second and third prophecies “All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth,that shalt be King hereafter!” (Shakespeare, 1997, p. 17) were somewhat implausible to Macbeth for he said to the witches “The Thane of Cawdor lives, A prosperous gentleman, and to be King stands not within the prospect of belief,” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.18). Later, Macbeth pondered on what the witches had revealed until Ross informed Macbeth that he was going to be named the new Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth started to get lured into the possible truth of the witches’ predictions. Then, when King Duncan announced Malcolm as his heir, Macbeth said to himself, “Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires; the eye wink at the hand; yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see,” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.22).This means that he would do anything, good or evil just so he can take over the King’s thrown. Clearly, the witches’ first three prophecies spurred Macbeth’s lust for power which made him unjustly ambitious.
The second force was his wife’s wicked prodding which led Macbeth to become a murderer. Lady Macbeth after reading Macbeth’s letter planned to assassinate Duncan to assure the completion of the prophecies but feared that Macbeth “is too full of the milk of human kindness” (Shakespeare, 1997, p. 23) to accomplish the deed. Macbeth who hated the idea of murder, struggled over whether to kill Duncan for murder itself was a terrible deed. Macbeth said to himself, “He’s here in double trust, First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed, then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself,” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.28). This proved that Macbeth agonized on the thought of assassinating Duncan. Lady Macbeth taunted Macbeth for his fears and that he was “Like the poor cat in the adage” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.29). Lady Macbeth then challenged Macbeth and reassured him by saying, “screw your courage to the sticking-place and we’ll not fail,” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.29). Macbeth was astounded by his wife’s wickedness yet performed the deed as to what had been planned. From then on, because of his wife’s evil prodding, Macbeth who hated the idea of murder was able to assassinate Duncan.
The third force that caused Macbeth to change from a moral man to a wicked brute is his growing desire for power. Macbeth’s immoral acts started when he and Lady Macbeth plotted the murder of Duncan which Macbeth later executed. His ambition spiraled out of control and forced him to murder again and again to cover up his previous crimes. His desire for power led him to kill many other innocent characters in the play. First, Macbeth killed the chamberlains to cover up the deed he has done and defended himself by saying “Who can be wise, amazed, temperate and furious, loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man,” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.45). Second, when Macbeth was named the new King of Scotland, he feared that Banquo’s existence might be a threat to his throne. Banquo knew about the wishes three prophecies and Macbeth feared that Banquo might suspect him of Duncan’s murder. Therefore Macbeth ordered the murderers to kill Baquo. Third, when Macbeth found out about Macduff’s treachery, he plotted another assassination which was evident when Macbeth said “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, Seize upon Fife, give to the edge of the sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line,” (Shakespeare, 1997, p.80). These evil deeds were caused by Macbeth’s budding ambition for power which made him deceitful and ruthless.
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In conclusion, though Macbeth was once a praise-worthy thane, because of the witches’ predictions, his wife’s evil encouragements, and his overwhelming desire to rule Scotland, Macbeth became a nasty immoral killer which destroyed his ethical values that he was once possessed. The witches’ three prophecies awaken Macbeth’s desire for power. Then, his wife’s prodding led Macbeth to execute Duncan which made him a killer. Finally, because of Macbeth’s ambition, he murdered those he thought was a threat to his throne which made him immoral. Like Macbeth, we all have our own ambitions, but let us not be blinded by these desires for in the end only one thing is certain, ambition, when overly taken, destroys its possessor.
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