Macbeth: Analysis

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Although undoubtedly guilty of murder, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a clear-cut case of diminished responsibility. Throughout the whole sordid business the defendant whom I am representing has been beset with evil influences designed to erode his free will and conscience. If there was a penalty for the only flaw which he showed before he was mercilessly exploited by these evil forces, which was that of ambition, I believe we would all be convicted at some point in our lives. Without the manipulations of evil, the idea of kingship would never have occurred to the brave and loyal Macbeth, who has time and again proven his courage and fealty in battle.

Ironically it was after one such battle, in which Macbeth acquitted himself gloriously and refused many tempting offers from the rebel cause to join their seemingly more powerful side, when the three strange apparitions of evil I will henceforth refer to as the 'weird sisters' (which is the title they give themselves) first appeared to him. This clever ploy caught him at the worst possible - exhaustion from the battle clouding his reason and rightful proud for his victory enhancing his sense of ambition. At first he refuses to believe their prophecy that he will be Thane of Cawdor and then King, which is in my opinion the correct way to deal with evil. Both he and Banquo, who I am sure this court all accept as an example of goodness in this matter, were naturally inquisitive as to how this would come about and the details of the prophecy, so his inquisitiveness does not necessarily show that he was accepting of their prophecy. His wish that they had stayed is perfectly understandable in this context of innocent curiosity, and he even joked about the absurdity of the prophecy afterwards with Banquo.

He only began to believe the prophecy after the first half unexpectedly came true, which is also perfectly understandable; it seemed to him almost as far beyond belief that he would become Thane of Cawdor...
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