Lady Macbeth's Descent Into Evil

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Pages: 5

In Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth, it can be said that of the two protagonists, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, it is Macbeth who is the more evil of the two. Though it can be an external factor, in this case Lady Macbeth's encouragement of her husband's actions, that can become the catalyst for disastrous consequences, in the end it is the responsibility of the individual in question to keep from succumbing to a negative influence.Through their respective character development over the course of the play, one can see that an evil, outside force will only hold sway if evil already exists within a person.

Macbeth is a well-respected and relatively honourable man at the onset of the play, and with his wife's provocation, he falls into immorality
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He moves beyond simply listening to and carrying out what Lady Macbeth says he should do, and soon begins to commit crimes of his own volition. This is first significantly seen in the killing of Banquo, as this is a decision that Macbeth makes on his own; he hints at what he has ordered when confronted by his lady, but he still tries to hide details from her, wanting her to “[b]e innocent of the knowledge [...] / [t]ill [she] applaud[s] the deed” (III.ii.50-51). Furthermore, he later goes on to kill Macduff's entire family, “all [of the] unfortunate souls / [t]hat trace him in his line” (IV.ii.64), for no reason but to relieve himself of his paranoia and fear of Macduff, without consulting Lady Macbeth at all. Even though Macduff's family is innocent and has committed no crime against him, Macbeth wants them dead and so he does his best to make that a reality. As Lady Macbeth's participation and input in Macbeth's decisions lessens and fades away, what emerges is a clearer picture of Macbeth himself: an evil man who no longer requires anything but his own resolve and his own desires to keep him on this path of destruction and violence. This reveals, then, that evil is within Macbeth's own character; Lady Macbeth may have initally fostered and helped this evil grow, but this particular evil action is far lesser when compared to those extreme, evil actions that Macbeth himself chooses to