Macbeth's Responsibility

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TOPIC: Macbeth has only himself to blame for his downfall; he chose evil again and again. Discuss.

Macbeth, although initially virtuous and patriotic, constantly chooses morally reprehensible actions in an attempt to satisfy his ambition, ultimately resulting in his demise. Macbeth's decadence is portrayed through his murder of Duncan, and later it is through his arrangement that both Banquo and the lineage of Macduff are killed. However, responsibility for the actions of Macbeth also lies partially with other character, primarily the Weird Sister and Lady Macbeth, who incite his ambition.

Macbeth's treason in murdering Duncan is blatantly an erroneous choice. Macbeth initially rationalises his choices, reasoning that "If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me / Without my stir" [1:III:142-143], and that it would be unseemly to assassinate Duncan "First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, / Strong both against the deed; then as his host, / Who should against his murderer shut the door." [1:VII: 13-15]. He also realises that "He (Duncan) hath honour'd me of late" [1:VII: 32], generosity which defies his morale conscience in killing Duncan. All rationales for not murdering Duncan are sound; yet Macbeth eventually opts to kill Duncan in order to satisfy his "…black and deep desire" [1:V:51] of gaining kingship. Macbeth had many opportunities to choose another path, but he abided by the dagger which "…marshall'st me the way I was going" [2:I:42], a representation and foreshadowing of the violent and bloody path he would later ‘build' his kingdom on. Although Macbeth recognises "the consequence" [1:VII: 3] which would follow after murdering Duncan, he ignores such risks. Later in the play, it is the cumulative effect of such recklessness and consequences which leads to his downfall. After the murder, Macbeth believes that that "…all great Neptune's ocean (will not) wash this blood / Clean from my hand" [2:II:63-64], indicative of...
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