Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is about a murder caused by the temptation of power. A prophecy stating that Macbeth will become King of Scotland tempts Lord Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is consumed by the potential reality of the prophecy and murders the current king so he can claim the throne. Macbeth is chiefly responsible for the murder of King Duncan in the play Macbeth. He was too easily tempted by power, his ambition too great, and this clouded his judgment. He made poor decisions based on what his wife and the witches had told him instead of doing what was right. And although he displayed his capability of reason and to make the right decisions, however, Macbeth ignored these things and set out to quench his thirst for greatness.
At many points in the play, Macbeth shows that he is capable of reason, but he often abandons the dictates of his reason and proceeds with a plan that does more harm than good. Early in the first Act, Macbeth decides he will not pursue the prophecies but will leave his future to fate, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir.” (I, iii, 154-156). At this point, Macbeth’s reasoning powers are intact and he will not interfere with what is in store. Macbeth is saying that if he is meant to be king, then it’ll happen. He will not act to make it be so, which is a wise decision. Not only does Macbeth have the ability to reason, but he also knows right from wrong. When deciding whether or not to go through with his plan and murder the king, Macbeth recognizes that he “should against [Duncan’s] murderer shut the door, not bear the knife [him]self.” (I, vii, 15-16). Macbeth sees that what he is planning to do is wrong and is torn between doing what is right and personal gain. Macbeth almost redeems himself when he attempts to stop Lady Macbeth, “we will proceed no further in this business, [Duncan] hath honoured me of late.” (I, vii, 33-34). This feeble attempt of Macbeth’s to put a stop to the evil plan he and his wife concocted shows Macbeth’s uneasiness with it. Macbeth possesses the power to reason and knows right from wrong, but he is weak in character. He is easily seduced by evil and abandons reason for personal gain, “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies.” (I, iv, 48-51). Macbeth’s excessive ambition leads to tragic consequences and is the reason why Macbeth is primarily responsible for the murder of King Duncan. Macbeth shows that he is capable of reason and tries to do the right thing but, in the end, it was all in vain and he pursues the path that would make him king – at any cost.
Many characters in the play too easily influence Macbeth and it is their influence that causes him to make poor decisions. Lady Macbeth is one of these persons who Macbeth allows to have too much power of him. When Lady Macbeth says, “You shall put this night’s great business into my dispatch,” she is assuming control over the plan and Macbeth does not object to this (I, v, 74-75). Macbeth could have stopped the murder from taking place but, instead, he surrenders over control after being persuaded by her to do so. The plan would never have succeeded if it weren’t for Macbeth’s weakness for Macbeth is, “too full o’ the milk of human kindness.” (I, v, 15-16). Macbeth lacks the ruthlessness to proceed on his own accord. Lady Macbeth realizes this and it is her intervention that finally turns Macbeth around, his weakness that causes him to succumb to temptation. It is not only his wife that Macbeth is influenced by, but also the witches. From the very beginning, the witches target Macbeth: “When shall we three meet again…upon the heath. There to meet with Macbeth.” (I, i, 1; 7-8). The witches recognize Macbeth is weak and is subject to temptation. They tell Macbeth the prophecies that spark his ambition and he allows them to consume him. Macbeth knows that the witches are evil