“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts completely” - Lord Acton This quote means that power changes one’s personality for the worse. Reading Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one can axtell that the play has several instances where this quote is perfectly applicable to describe a scene. Macbeth, a noble Scottish General, goes to extremes committing murders and pulling devious schemes to gain power. Macbeth’s desire for power was caused by four main events, Macbeth hearing the prophecy, becoming king, hiring the murderers, and killing Macduff’s family. All of which slowly corrupted him from his noble self to the widely known villainous despot he is at the end of the play. After the Battle against the Irish where Macbeth kills Macdonwald, three witches appear near some shrubs. The witches give Macbeth and Banquo a prophecy and one part of it read “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.53). Ross comes and tells Macbeth that he has been made thane of Cawdor convincing him that the prophecy is real. As Macbeth contemplates the prophecy he is enticed by the prospect of being king and the sense of power leads him to dark thoughts about how to secure the prophecy. “Let not light see my black and deep desires” (1.4.58). When Macbeth says this he is referring to his dark thoughts. With Lady Macbeth, Macbeth plans the on how to execute Duncan and Lady Macbeth convinces him to kill Duncan when he comes to visit by telling Macbeth that he should put “This nights business into my dispatch…Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.” (1.6.80). This means that killing Duncan will give them absolute power. As Lord Acton said “power corrupts” and Macbeth’s first signs of Corruption and lust for power are evident after his taste of it.
His second progression in his desire for power starts when Macbeth becomes king and when he begins to wield his power arrogantly. Macbeth also says “And I’ll request your presence” (3.1.16) when talking to Banquo and inviting him to the feast. This displays arrogance because Macbeth just became king and he is giving an order to his best friend. It is implied that it is an order when Banquo replies “Command upon me, to which my duties” (3.1.19). In this scene Macbeth is given the opportunity to wield total power and he takes this opportunity oppressively, using the power he has taken to gain more. As scene 3 progresses Macbeth seems to gain confidence, signifying that he likes his seat of power and will not be willing to relinquish it. His newly found confidence and independence is seen when he doesn’t tell Lady Macbeth about what he is going to do. He instead tells Lady Macbeth to “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,” (3.3.51). His coronation was the cause of his corruption and the more power Macbeth gets the more he will desire it.
Unfortunately for Macbeth, Banquo also got a prophecy that said “Thou shalt get kings, thou thou be none” (1.3.70), leading to Macbeth’s fear of losing the power he had. His desire for power lead all the way to another death, Banquo’s. Since his prophecy came true Macbeth decides that he has to kill Banquo and Fleance, Banquo’s son, in order to end their family line and make sure that neither Banquo and Fleance, nor their children will take the throne away from him. At this point in time there are only a few opposing Macbeths rule so he is completely corrupted because in full power. To kill the two Macbeth tricks them to coming to a banquet and sets a trap where the Murderers he hired will kill both Banquo and Fleance. When the murders hesitate and question Macbeth as to why, he questions their manhood “Not i’ th’ worst rank of manhood, say’t,