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About The Tragedy of Macbeth

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The Tragedy of Macbeth considered one of Shakespeare's best tragedies, is fraught with disputes. The most prominent conflict is the conflict between man against self. Act 1 introduces us to Macbeth and Banquo as they meet three witches who owe them prophecies (Shakespeare, Burton and Bloom, 2005). Macbeth is initially skeptical of these prophecies, but when the first prophecy of him being called "Thane of Cawdor" is fulfilled, he starts to crave the throne. Throughout the rest of the play, his appetite and morality are always at odds, but in Act 4, his passion triumphs. As a warrior, Macbeth exudes honor after winning on the battlefield and thus showing how fearless he is in battle. Despite this bravery, he is in a state of confusion before, during and after he murders King Duncan. He murders the King after being taunted by his wife in Act 1, Scene 7. He experiences a guilty conscience after the murder, which manifests in the hallucination of a dagger soaked in blood, and his wife is left to take charge of the situation. In Act 3, Macbeth holds a party where he invites his lords and Lady Macbeth. It is at this party that Macbeth is notified of Banquo's death and he starts seeing Banquo's ghost sitting in his place (Shakespeare, Burton and Bloom, 2005). This appearance causes Macbeth into a state of fright and panic, and this shows how his conscience is nagging at him. In Act 4, a significant change in the man Macbeth used to be can be witnessed. He orders the murders of Macduff and his entire household. This shows how his desire has led him down a dark path and villainous rampage that slowly chips away at his humanity. This is the turning point from which there is no coming back. He says so himself in Act 3 Scene 4, "By the worst means, the worst. For mine own good all causes shall give away; I am in blood stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more returning were as tedious as go o'er." (Shakespeare, Burton and Bloom, 2005). It is at this point his desires take over.

After the murder of Macduff's household, Rosse says, "Were, on the quarry of these murdered deer to add the death of you" (Shakespeare, Burton and Bloom, 2005). Macbeth comments that if he were to inform Macduff the manner in which they were killed, it would only be adding salt to an open would made by the news of his family's murder. This shows how far Macbeth has come from the man in Act 2 where he expressed the fact that he did not want to kill Duncan and had a difficult time deciding whether to kill him or not. In Act 4, Rosse also says, "Wife, children, servants, all that could be found" were murdered (Shakespeare, Burton and Bloom, 2005). Macbeth does not seem to feel remorse as he orders the death of everyone in Macduff's castle. This shows how paranoid he is by ordering the end to anyone who will interfere with his reign. His pride is his most dominant trait, and it is also the one that leads him to his tragic fall.


Through the entire play, Macbeth exhibits signs of paranoia, guilt, and fear. His greed and frustration upon learning that King Duncan's son, Malcolm will inherit the throne starts him on a murdering spree that begins with the Kind himself. He does this in an attempt to fulfill a prophesy set by three witches. His humanity shines through a couple of times during the murder of the King. Act 3 shows the progression of Macbeth's behavior from humane to inhumane all the while trying to assert his manliness over that of Lady Macbeth. He orchestrates several murders in order to rule, but his attempts only lead to his demise.


Shakespeare, W., Raffel, B., & Bloom, H. (2005). Macbeth. In Macbeth (pp. 1-168). NewHaven; London: Yale University Press. Retrieved from

July 24, 2021
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