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Essay/Term paper: Witches in macbeth

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Macbeth

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To what extent

are the witches in the tragedy Macbeth responsible for Macbeth"s actions?


Three witches in the tragedy Macbeth are introduced right at the beginning

of the

play. They recount to Macbeth three prophesies. That Macbeth will

be Thane of

Cawdor, Thane of Glams and King. These prophesies introduce Macbeth

to ideas of

greatness. Macbeth will eventually follow through on killing

king Duncan. It was

sometimes thought that the witches had the ability to

reverse the natural order of things.

This brings into the play idea of

fate and the role with which it has in the play. One can

ponder if Macbeth

ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the


It is however, more realistic to believe that Macbeth was responsible for


own actions throughout the play and in the end it was he who made the

final decisions.

The witches could foretell the future, they can add temptation,

and influence Macbeth,

but they can not control his destiny. Macbeth creates

his own misery when he is driven

by his own sense of guilt. This causes

him to become insecure as to the reasons for his

actions which in turn causes

him to commit more murders. The witches offer great

enticement, but it

is in the end, each individuals decision to fall for the temptation, or to

be strong enough to resist their captivation. The three Witches are only

responsible for

the introduction of these ideas and for further forming ideas

in Macbeth head, but they

are not responsible for his actions throughout

the play. Lady Macbeth is shown early in

the play as an ambitious woman

with a single purpose. She can manipulate Macbeth

easily. This is shown

in the line "That I may pour my spirits in thine ear". (I,V, 26) She


selfless, and wants what is best for her husband. Before the speech that

Lady Macbeth

gives in act one scene five, Macbeth is resolved not to go through

with the killing of the

king. However, Lady Macbeth manipulates at Macbeth"s

self-esteem by playing on his

manliness and his bravery. This then convinces

Macbeth to commit regicide. It is like a

child who is easily guided. Lady

Macbeth knows this and acts on it accordingly.

Although Macbeth has the

final say in whether or not to go through with the initial

killing, he loves

Lady Macbeth and wants to make her happy. Lady Macbeth is the


individual in the relationship which is shown in her soliloquy in Act 1 Scene

It seems that she can convince him to do anything as long as she pushes

the right

buttons. On the other hand, as the play progresses, and Duncan

is killed, there is a

reversal of natural order, and Macbeth becomes the

dominating partner. Lady

Macbeth becomes subservient. She becomes pathetic

and only a shadow of her

former self.

Ambition plays a large role in

this tragedy. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have

"vaulting ambition" that

drives them. Lady Macbeth"s ambition drives her to manipulate

Macbeth into

committing regicide. Macbeth"s fierce ambition is present before the


prophesies. He would never have thought seriously about killing Duncan without

the witches. Yet the combination of both his ambitious nature and the

initial prophesies

leads him to kill the king. It is Lady Macbeth who states

"Thou wouldst be great/ Art

not without ambition." Macbeth states that it

is "his besetting sin: I have no spur/ To

prick the sides of my intent,

but only/ Vaulting ambition." Macbeth"s continued

ambition is present in

his wanting to have a succession of kings after him. Macbeth"s


is deep within him and because of this, both the witches and Lady Macbeth are

able to sway him to evil. It is this ambition that gets him into so much

trouble initially.

Once Macbeth kills for the first time, he has no choice

but to continue to cover up his

wrong doings, or risk loosing everything

he has worked so hard for. In the end, it all

comes to Macbeth himself.

Everyone is responsible for his own destiny. This is an

essential theme

in this tragedy. Macbeth chooses to gamble with his soul and when he


this it is only him who chooses to lose it. He is responsible for anything

he does and

must take total accountability for his actions. Macbeth is the

one who made the final

decision to carry out his actions. He made these

final decisions and continued with the

killings to cover that of King Duncan.

The killing of Duncan starts an unstoppable chain

of events in the play

that ends with the murder of Macbeth and the suicide of Lady

Macbeth. Macbeth

chooses to murder Duncan. Macbeth, in the beginning had all of the


of an honorable gentleman who could become anything. This is all shattered

when his ambition overrides his sense of morality. Although Macbeth is warned

as to the

validity of the witches prophesies, he is tempted and refuses to

listen to reason from

Banquo. When the second set of prophesies Macbeth

receives begin to show their faults

Macbeth blames the witches for deceiving

him with half truths. While the witches are

not totally responsible for

the actions of Macbeth, they are responsible for introducing

the ideas to

Macbeth which in turn fired up Macbeth"s ambition and led to a disastrous


unnecessary chain of events.


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