A Basically Good and Brave Man Destroyed by Circumstances Beyond His Control
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I agree, but only to a considerable extent. For Macbeth, when things had begun to stray from his control, he could have stood his place and be determined to do what is right, but he did not. He let the situation become beyond his control. He was a good and brave natured man, who allowed his dark desires and vaulting ambition get the better of him. In the play, there are two major causes for the change of circumstances, the deception of the witches and the manipulative nature of his wife, Lady Macbeth.
There are various epithets as well as descriptions in the play that suggest Macbeth’s good and brave nature, for he was the one who fought in the battle and killed the rebel, Macdonwald. He is described to be ‘worthy’ of the name ‘brave Macbeth’ by the dying captain. He was brave and he killed for the right reasons. He was a brave, good and noble man at the start of the play.
But situations changed. He met the witches. Through deception the witches, excite his hopes and hidden desires. They arouse Macbeth’s curiosity, gaining his confidence by knowing his name without any prior mention of it. The witches are responsible for planting the idea that he could be king into his head. However, they are not responsible for how Macbeth reacts to the idea.
The witches’ first prophecy came true almost immediately, enticing Macbeth. From this, he gained confidence for the next prophecy. While under his own free will, he had already begun to have ‘black and deep desires’ for gaining throne; murder. Instead of listening to Banquo, who advises his friend against the weird sisters, he decides to follow the flow from the change in circumstance, leading to his destruction.
The witches corrupted his mind, fueling his ambitions and awakening existing ‘black and deep’ desires. They are responsible for providing another route for Macbeth to follow, but they are not responsible for his gullibility in starting to follow the morally wrong path. But at this moment, he is still hesitant about murdering Duncan, as he bears a ‘double trust’ with Macbeth by being his guest and king. Circumstances are yet not out of his control, it is his vaulting ambition which leads to his eventual downfall.
Lady Macbeth is the primary cause for Macbeth’s increasingly vaulting ambition. Through the power of her manipulative words, she deceives Macbeth into thinking that murder is the only way to acquire the throne.
When Lady Macbeth receives Macbeth’s letter, like her husband, she believes the prophecies to be true, she begins to plan ahead for the murder. She knows her husband’s character very well, knowing he is ‘too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way’. She decides she has to be the man for both of them. She calls upon spirits to ‘unsex’ her, removing all that is feminine from her, compensating for his weakness.
Her spiteful rebukes in what pushed Macbeth to commit the murder. She made her love dependant on whether the murder was carried out or not. She questions his manhood and verbally abused him until he finally agrees to commit the regicide. At this point in the story, the circumstances have changed drastically, but yet, if Macbeth had been firm and stationary about his values and morals he would not have be pushed into committing this first murder, which leads him on to the rest of the killings.
Lady Macbeth is, to a large extent, responsible for pushing and shoving Macbeth into the flow of change, brought about by the weird sisters. But she is not responsible for the choice he makes to succumb to her abuse. Macbeth was never in any circumstance that had spun out of control. He himself had brought the downfall upon himself.
The statement, ‘a basically good and brave man destroyed by circumstances beyond his control,’ does not describe what happens to Macbeth. Yes, he was once a good and brave man, but circumstances were never out of his control. Under the influence of the witches and Lady Macbeth, he had allowed himself to give in to his vaulting ambition and go down the path to his doom. He eventually reached a point of no return, and it was only then where things were beyond his control. But he had led himself to the slaughter house expecting not to be slaughtered.
The witches and Lady Macbeth both play significant roles in influencing Macbeth to choose the path he does. Both of them are responsible for creating various circumstances in the play; however, they are not responsible for Macbeth’s moral cowardice, in allowing them to persuade him to commit the act of regicide. Neither of them had yielded the dagger in which Macbeth kills Duncan with. It was his choice to follow the wrong flow, leading to his eventual destruction.