Macbeth Essay

The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare is one of the most famous tragedies of all time. Macbeth’s murder of Duncan starts his decent into tyranny. Even though Macbeth killed Duncan, Lady Macbeth is the one responsible for Duncan’s murder. The way she manipulated Macbeth shows that she is truly evil. The idea of murdering Duncan was hers; Macbeth would not have even thought of killing Duncan on his own. Lady Macbeth was willing to do anything to make sure Duncan was killed, while Macbeth would not want to do something dishonourable. Many times Macbeth was reluctant to proceed with the murder, but Lady Macbeth drove him to committing the sinful act by mocking him and taking advantage of his love for her. For all these reasons, Lady Macbeth is a more evil character than Macbeth and is more responsible for the murder of Duncan.

Although Macbeth was first to hear the prophecy from the three witches that said he “shalt be king hereafter” (I, iii, ln 53), Lady Macbeth came up with the idea to murder Duncan. Macbeth’s honourable nature can be seen through Lady Macbeth’s thought of him:

“I do fear thy nature; / It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great: / Art not without ambition, but without / The illness that should attend it” (I, v, ln 15).

This description says that Macbeth is too kind to plot against Duncan. Lady Macbeth knows that Macbeth “wouldst not play false” (I, v, ln 20) to satisfy his “deep desires” (I, iv, ln 58) to be king, so when she hears that Duncan is coming to their castle for the night, she says “He that’s coming / Must be provided for” (I, v ln 73) meaning that she will make preparations to murder Duncan. Only after Lady Macbeth talks to Macbeth does he ponder about the murder: “If [the murder] were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well / If were done quickly” (I, vii, ln 1). Macbeth did not think about taking action to make himself king until Lady Macbeth placed the idea of murdering him in his mind. She makes a murder scheme independently: “you (Macbeth) shall put / This night’s great business into my dispatch” (I, v, ln 74) which is why Lady Macbeth is more responsible for Duncan’s murder and is more evil than Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth is the dominant character in her relationship with Macbeth. She is stronger mentally, and has more ambition than him. When she hears that Duncan is staying at her castle, she calls the spirits to “unsex [her] here … fill [her] of direst cruelty!... Make thick [her] blood, / Stop up the access and passage to remorse” (I, v, ln 44) which shows how focused she is on murdering Duncan. However Macbeth is unwilling to take action to make himself king: “If chance will have me king, why, chance / may crown me / Without my stir.” (I, iii, ln 154). He says that he has “no spur / To prick the sides of my intent” (I, vii, ln 25) meaning that he has no reason to commit the murder. If it were not for Lady Macbeth’s ambition, Macbeth would not have murdered Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s vaulting ambition, ruthlessness and intent to murder Duncan makes her a more evil character than Macbeth and more responsible for the murder of Duncan.

Macbeth has struggles with his conscience before the murder of Duncan and is reluctant to proceed, but Lady Macbeth manipulates him into following through with the murder. Macbeth contemplates whether or not he should kill Duncan and concludes that

“As I am his Kinsman and his subject, / Strong both against the deed: then, as his host, / Who should against his murderers shut the door, / Not bear the knife myself” (I, vii, ln 13)

meaning that he should protect Duncan, not harm him. He says to Lady Macbeth that he “will proceed no further in this business” and she mocks him; telling him that if he does not seize the crown, he will “live like a coward in thine own esteem” (I, vii, ln 46) even though Macbeth was praised as “brave” (I, ii, ln 18)