Macbeth Theme
"To Know My Deed, ‘Twere Best Not Know Myself" How was it possible for
such an admirable and noble man, so established in society, to fall so greatly
into a dilemma, full of murderous plots and deceit? In William Shakespeare’s

Macbeth, the idea of one character becoming both victim and villain is
introduced. Macbeth falls prey to others’ deception, and is supplanted with
greed and hate when he is tricked by three witches. When told that he is going
to be King of Scotland, Macbeth does whatever he can to ensure his prophecy. In

Macbeth’s quest for power, he gains a flaw that ends in a deteriorated
relationship with Lady Macbeth, and his eventual defeat. "All hail, Macbeth,
that shalt be King hereafter!" (I.iii.50) The three witches, with their"prophetic greeting" (I.iii.78) gear Macbeth’s drive for power. They
embody the supernatural element of this tragedy. With their imperfect
predictions, they play on Macbeth’s security and nourish the seed of his
tragic flaw, which flourishes in their manipulative prophecies and drives him
into becoming the King of Scotland. But the Scottish aristocracy comprises of

King Duncan, his two princes Malcolm and Donalbain, and various other thanes and
nobles, including Macbeth’s friend, Banquo. His desire for position on the
throne overrides his respect for the King and his own dignity, leading Macbeth
to slaughter him, and murder all those who serve as obstacles in his treacherous
pursuit of the throne. "Yet 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 should attend it." (I.v.16-20) In
the beginning, Lady Macbeth has a kind of power over Macbeth that she can only
achieve through his devotion to her. She adds to his false sense of security,
and Macbeth confides in her and lets her persuade him. As the murderous plots
drag on, he loses his will to speak in confidence to her. As with Banquo,

Macbeth no longer looks to him as an ally, but rather a hurdle that he must
defeat in order to fulfill the divination that the witches have cast. Banquo is
near enough to draw blood, and like a menacing swordsman, his mere presence
threatens Macbeth’s existence (III.i.115-117). Macbeth is not sufficiently
cultivated in good or evil to gather poise for all occasions; thus he
experiences difficulty in sleeping, he uses rhetoric inadequately in the
presence of others when disturbed, and even resorts to improbability. "That
tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but
only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on the other..."
(I.vii.25-28) Macbeth has a conscience that plagues him throughout the story,
prohibiting him from forgetting all he knows that is right. But again, the words
of his wife, Lady Macbeth, supplied with the warped foresights of the three
witches, impels him to stay devoted to his utterly selfish ends. Macbeth’s
fall from grace into sheer misery is truly tragic in it’s nature. Even his
soliloquies, notable for magniloquence and marked by voluptuous word-painting,
show more the stages of his corruption than its causes - the need for action to
cover his lack of poise in awaiting developments and the need to stifle the
moral imagination that enables him to foresee the consequences of his actions.

Macbeth was simply a weak soul that had been unfairly hoaxed.