The story of killing to gain power in the play macbeth

Next Why do the witches' prophecies have so much power over Macbeth? The witches have chosen the right moment to approach Macbeth - when he is full of the triumph of battle, and fresh from killing. Macbeth begs the witches to stay and tries to question them:

The story of killing to gain power in the play macbeth

Typically, Shakespeare ambiguously suggests that all three main protagonists, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the witches, contribute to the tragedy. However, at the same time, he leaves it up to the audience to determine how much blame they would apportion to each.

It is important to analyse carefully the interplay of the main protagonists and their attitudes to ambition and conscience. What is the role of fate? Shakespeare presents Macbeth as if he were at the mercy of the forces of evil.

Irony In Macbeth

The witches appear to have considerable supernatural power and their strength is reinforced through the sequential order of the events. Indeed, to Elizabethan audiences, there would have been no doubt that the witches had the power to play moral havoc.


Shakespeare typically employs dramatic irony: The role of the witches: Also, the fact that Shakespeare positions the witches as if they are the harbingers of great news, gives them credibility. Nevertheless Macbeth is uneasy. Why is he scared of evil thoughts?

Again, Shakespeare appears to be drawing upon the political landscape, that came to the fore in the Gunpowder Plot in Macbeth mentions as such in the final part of the play: According to Shapiro, by when Shakespeare was writing the play, playgoers would have recognise the universal meaning of equivocation with its anti-Catholic associations.

This is a world where honest exchange becomes difficult. One lone conspirator remained from the Gunpowder Plot. Macbeth is so captivated that he automatically believes that King Duncan ought to name him as his successor.

He is mortified when he discovers that Malcolm will be heir, Prince of Cumberland. Let not light see my black and deep desires. What is Macbeth starting to imagine and starting to hide?

What is the role of free will? Whilst Shakespeare presents Macbeth as a victim of the witches, Macbeth never completely loses the capacity to make his own choices.

Significantly the witches greet both the kinsmen on the heath. Banquo implies that Macbeth is too quick to place his trust in unworthy sources. Shakespeare characterises Banquo as morally incorruptible.

Morally, Banquo appears sure of himself. Is Macbeth a tragic hero? Macbeth is tragic in the sense that he predicts his downfall but cannot control his ambition.

He is also tragic in the sense that, as a fine and noble soldier, he becomes corrupted. As a tyrant, he becomes steeped in blood for evil purposes.

However, Macbeth differs from the ancient Greek tragic hero. He is unaware of his moral shortcomings; he acts out of his good intentions and benefits from a greater awareness of self. Macbeth is plagued by contradictory thoughts: Macbeth is aware of his flaw — his uncontrollable desire for power fuelled by his ambition.

Shakespeare depicts Macbeth as a person who is morally astute, honourable and loyal. He is constantly aware of his deception and the hypocritical nature of his musings. Ironically, Macbeth parallels the Thane of Cawdor upon whom King Duncan invested his trust and faith.In the play, Macbeth says to himself, “The prince of Cumberland!

That is a step I must either fall down from or else leap over, for it lies in my way.”(Act 1 scene 4 Lines ) Macbeth realizes he must get more power.

Just as told in the play, Macbeth came to power by killing King Duncan. The difference was that the real King Duncan was a much younger man than the King Duncan in the play.

The real King Duncan. The tables turn later on in the play though, with Macbeth continuing his killing to gain more power and becoming more independent from his wife, eventually leading to her going mad and committing suicide. At this point, Lady Macbeth seems more power hungry than Macbeth because she keeps pushing him to kill Duncan.

William Shakespeare

Someone might say that Lady Macbeth was the coward because she would not kill Duncan herself, even though she wanted him dead more than anybody. Later in the play, appropriately, Macduff calls Macbeth by the name of “hell-hound” (V x 3).

The story of killing to gain power in the play macbeth

Indeed, the story of Macbeth is that of a man who acquiesces in his damnation—in part because he cannot utter words that may attenuate his crime. Macbeth may have feared that if he did not kill Banquo, Banquo would kill him in order to gain a position power seeing that the witch’s just informed both Macbeth and Banquo that Macbeth will be the next King of Scotland and Banquo will never have the chance to hold the throne.

BBC - Standard Grade Bitesize English - The witches : Revision, Page 2