The character of Macbeth is one of the most prominent and notorious personalities ever featured in any one of Shakespeare’s plays. Commonly labelled as a ‘tragic hero’, which is often made reference to in the play “For Brave Macbeth, well he deserves that name”, Macbeth is the perfect example of a man who is neither totally good nor totally evil and who finds himself caught up in a serious situation as a result of both psychological weakness and error in judgement. His gradual mental decline and ill-fated journey from well regarded, loyal soldier to corrupt, power hungry mad man makes him a character difficult to sympathize with. Yet audiences to this day find themselves fascinated with the inner workings of his chaotic mind, his initial reluctance to act on his powerful desire to become king and the way in which he is so severely pressured by Lady Macbeth into committing a deed which will ultimately lead to his untimely demise.
The influence of the supernatural can be seen as the ‘beginning of the end’ for Macbeth. “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king thereafter” are three infamous lines spoken by the three witches which cause Macbeth to become trusting in fate and allow his yearning to become king overpower the reality of the situation. Being quite an ambitious man, Macbeth does not initially think to question the witch’s theories or the reasons behind why they are revealing this information to him. This selfish, unchecked ambition to rule is what triggers the evil intent in Macbeth and therefore his downfall.
Macbeth’s unorthodox relationship with his wife, Lady Macbeth, is a major point of interest throughout the play. To friends, Macbeth is perceived as a great leader and dedicated soldier who would give up his life to protect his country, but when in the company of his wife, her power and influence over him is immense. Lady Macbeth’s desperation to become Queen of Scotland and her over-confidence about their plan causes Macbeth to commit to it without thinking of the severe consequences attached. In Lady Macbeth’s somewhat dramatic soliloquy in Act 1, Scene VII, she cruelly taunts Macbeth by questioning his manhood and will power, “which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem”. This is the final straw for Macbeth and from thereafter he becomes a man blinded by foolish ambition, a tyrant who will stop at nothing until he reaches his goal.
Macbeth’s strong aspiration to become King of Scotland yet his unwillingness to fulfil the witches’ prophecies is the cause for the fierce internal conflict which occurs within him throughout the play. After receiving the witches prophecies, he is left unsure of what path to take and is caught between what he knows is morally right and the opportunity to have all of his wishes come true. Shakespeare uses these predictions to showcase Macbeth’s mental struggle between chance and fate and once the