In the play Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, Macbeth was an ambitious Scottish noble who was transformed into a treacherous tyrant through the influence of three main sources. The first and most important influence on Macbeth, were the witches. They equivocated with him to damn his soul. Another important influence was Lady Macbeth. She was able to control him by questioning his manliness. The final thing that influenced Macbeth was his ambition. His desire to be king overcame all his virtues and made him into a ruthless tyrant. Macbeth was transformed from a virtuous noble to a terrible tyrant through the influence of the witches, Lady Macbeth, and by his owns ambition.
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The witches were able to lead Macbeth to damnation through their equivocation. The witches first met with him after the battle with Norway. Macbeth and Banquo were talking after they both fought bravely in the battle when the witches appeared. The last two witches said ?All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! / All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!? (I, iii, 49-50) The two witches told him that he was to be the Thane of Cawdor, and eventually king. When Macbeth was named Thane of Cawdor later in that scene, he started to have some interest in the witches? predictions. Another instance where the witches equivocated with him is with the apparitions. Macbeth had trust in the witches, and he wanted to know more about what the future had in store for him so he went to the witches and demanded that they tell him about the future. When the witches showed him the second apparition, it said ?Be bloody, bold, and resolute! Laugh to scorn / The pow?r of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth.? (IV, , 77-79) Then, the witches showed him another apparition which said ?Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him.? (IV, , 90-93) These two apparitions told Macbeth that he wouldn?t die of any man born by a woman, and that he wouldn?t be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane Hill. The two apparitions led Macbeth into a position of false security, because he believed everything that they said even though they were only telling him half of the truth. Macbeth?s trust in the witches? equivocation was manifested late in the play. Before the battle when Macbeth was talking to the doctor he told the doctor that he wasn?t afraid, and he bragged of what the third apparition told him. Macbeth told the Doctor ??Bring it after me. / I will not be afraid of death and bane / Till Birnam Forest come to Dunsinane.? (V, v, 58-60) There was also another instance where Macbeth bragged of the witches? apparition. During the battle Young Siward challenged Macbeth. After Macbeth slew Young Siward, he said ??Thou wast born of woman. / But swords I smile at, weapons laugh to scorn, / Brandished by man that?s of a woman born.? (V, viii, 11-13) In both of these instances, Macbeth bragged of what the apparitions told him, thus showing that the witches held a lot of influence over him. The witches were able to influence Macbeth through their equivocation of the future. They usually only told him half the truth and they always left him wanting to know more about the future.
Another influence on Macbeth was his wife Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth wielded her influence over Macbeth by questioning his manliness. The first time that she questioned his manliness was when Macbeth was having second thoughts about the plan to murder Duncan. Lady Macbeth said to him:
What beast was?t then / That made you break this enterprise to me? / When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And to be more than what you were, you would / Be so much more the man?. (I, vii, 47-51)
Lady Macbeth?s intimidation by questioning Macbeth?s manliness worked. It overcame his noble nature, and caused him to go through with the plan. Another instance where Lady Macbeth challenged Macbeth?s manliness was at the banquet after Banquo had been murdered. The ghost of Banquo was haunting Macbeth at the banquet and it caused Macbeth to act insanely, thus causing suspicion among the nobles. To calm Macbeth down she said aside to him ??Are you a man?? (III, iv, 59) Her intimidation worked because it temporarily got him to calm down before anymore suspicion was aroused among the nobles. Lady Macbeth?s influence on Macbeth by questioning his manliness worked, for when she used her intimidation, she could control him.
The final influence on Macbeth was his own ambition. His ambition was to become king, which he acknowledged on several occasions. The first occasion was in the palace, after Duncan named Malcolm the Prince of Cumberland. Macbeth said to himself ?The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step / On which I must fall down, or else o?erleap, / For in my way it lies?.? (I, iv, 48-50) Macbeth said that Malcolm being the Prince of Cumberland was an obstacle that his ambition must help him overcome. Another instance where his ambition influenced him was after Macbeth?s first encounter with the witches. Macbeth and Banquo were discussing the witches? predictions after Macbeth had been named Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth said aside to Banquo ??Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor: / The greatest is behind?.? (I, iii, 116-117) Macbeth said that he had already been named the Thane of Cawdor, and the greatest was still to come, thus showing his anxiety to become king. The final instance was in the letter to Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth was reading the letter from Macbeth about the witches? predictions and the thought about becoming king. Macbeth said ?Art not without ambition, but without / The illness should attend it?.? (I, v, 18-19) Macbeth said that he didn?t lack the ambition to be king, but he lacked the ruthlessness. Macbeth?s ambitions influenced him enough to allow him to overcome his virtuous nature, and make him ruthless enough to kill the King so he could become king himself.
Macbeth was influenced by three main sources. The witches, his wife, and his ambition all helped to transform him from a noble thane into a terrible tyrant. However, of the three, the witches wielded the most influence over Macbeth. By the end of the play, Macbeth had put all his trust in the witches? apparitions. Also, had it not been for the witches? initial predictions, Macbeth would probably not of thought about trying to take the throne in the first place. Thus, through their equivocation, the witches were able to control Macbeth the most, and lead him to a fate of damnation.