What qualities makes a person good or bad? Researchers of psychology define evil as, “dehumanization, diffusion of responsibility, obedience to authority, unjust systems, group pressure, moral disengagement,and annuity.” These reasons along with background information of a subject helps to identify why a subject may turn evil. Unfortunately, finding a clear cut definition for good was not as easy for researchers. According to the five year study of world-renowned psychologist, Philip Zimbardo and his colleagues, they were able to break up what they found the making of a “good” person to be. “Simply put, then, the key to heroism is a concern for other people in need—a concern to defend a moral cause, knowing there is a personal risk, done without expectation of reward,” (What Makes A Hero?). Dr. Zimbardo also states that the same situations that cause people to turn into villains or bad people, are also the same situations that cause people to want to become heroes or good people. Yet one question still remains. How can the same situation instill someone to become evil and others to become heroes? Truth is there is no clear line that defines why people choose one side or the other. A person can or will go back and forth between the two sides. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth understanding the struggle between good and evil is necessary to access Macbeth’s character and how his tragic flaws ultimately lead to his downfall. Macbeth’s character develops from a brave hero to a murderous tyrant because of his power-hungry personality, his controlling greed, and his overwhelming trust in the witches.
Main character, Macbeth is corrupted by a charge for power. He was a well liked and well respected man. Macbeth had a decent ranking in the kingdom, and was still quickly climbing the ladder of authority. Giving him a ranking of a higher position, like Thane of Cawdor, fueled his desire for power. Other contributors, such as his wife’s predominant ways and urge for power as well, guided Macbeth down this path of destruction. Lady Macbeth’s manipulation is quite apparent in Act 1, Scene 7 of the story. “If we should fail?”, says Macbeth, clearly shows his apprehension to murdering King Duncan. Lady Macbeth responds, promising Macbeth that as long as he is bold, he will be successful in carrying out this plan she has come up with for the assassination of King Duncan. After carrying out the plan, the door to Macbeth’s desires and wants was opened. With this new found wanting, Macbeth now craved to have authority over people and control their every move like pulling the strings of a puppet. He needed to feel and be important. He needed the people to come to him for answers and permission. In his mind his authority or ruling was to never be questioned, and those who challenge him must quickly be eliminated. No one was to come in between him and his rule. This urging for power instilled in him a negative attitude. A negative attitude that caused him to do whatever it took to get and to keep his power. This thinking is just one of the flaws that helped lead to his downfall. Macbeth killed for power. He killed those who respected and trusted him the most, and those who were the closests to him. People such as King Duncan, who had great respect towards him and Banquo, who would have considered Macbeth a best friend. Not only did his power hungry attitude affect him, it also led to the downfall of his wife. The lies, the murders, and the pressure to keep it all hidden were too much for his wife and she eventually took her own life to get away from it all. Macbeth can be compared to that of Frankenstein; a monstrous man who set out and destroyed everything in his way until he got what wanted (“He Says/She Says: Shakespeare Macbeth-a gender/personality study”). The violence that both presented to get what they desired is comparable. “Violence is the heart and soul of Macbeth”, says Derek Conen from the