Character Flaws Of Macbeth


Character Flaws Of Macbeth Essay, Research Paper

Portrait of a Murderer

In the world today, many businesses fight each other for more money

and better deals. To achieve this, they will do anything that it takes to accomplish

the job, even if it means putting someone else out of business. These businesses are

ruthless and ambitious. Without these traits, businesses can not achieve a higher

rank in commerce. These concepts are not new to society. They have been with man

since time began. In William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, Macbeth is a perfect

example of how being ruthless and excessively ambitious can lead to trouble.

The main character trait that Macbeth possess is ambition. Webster’s

dictionary defines ambition as the desire of power. This is exactly what Macbeth

craves. Even as the thane of Cawdor, Macbeth aspires to be the king of Scotland.

The current king of Scotland is Duncan, a kind and noble king. When Macbeth and

Banquo, Macbeth’s friend, are traveling back from battle, they come across three

witches. The witches tell Macbeth that he will become king in the future. As

Macbeth hears this, he becomes frightened, because he is thinking about killing

Duncan in order to become king. Banquo says, “Good sir, why do you start and

seem to fear/ Things that do sound so fair” ( I . iii . 54-55). Because of Macbeth’s

ambition he decides to kill the king. After he kills the king and takes the throne, he

decides that he is still not satisfied. He remembers that the witches told Macbeth

that Banquo’s children will become king someday. Because Macbeth wants to have

his offspring inherit the throne, he concludes that he must kill Banquo and his son,

Fleance. Macbeth dispatches a few murderers to go and kill Banquo and Fleance

while they are horseback riding in the forest. The murderers succeed in killing

Banquo, but Fleance escapes. Even after killing Banquo, Macbeth is still not

satisfied. He tells his wife that, “We are yet but young in deed” ( III. iv. 176).

Macbeth’s ambition is drawing him to the point that he can never be safe on the

throne. He feels that he must know everything. Instead of waiting to let things

happen naturally, Macbeth goes in search of the witches, in that they might tell him

how to defeat his enemies. Once he knows what he thinks to be the truth, he

prepares for battle with England and Norway without a care in the world, only later

to be killed. Because of his own pride and ambition, he dies in battle.

Before Macbeth becomes the thane of Cawdor, Macbeth is a warrior in the

king’s army. He is ruthless and merciless. While fighting his opponent in battle,

Macbeth “unseamed him from nave to th’ chops,/ And fixed his head upon our

battlements” ( I. ii. 24-25). That is one of the most gruesome ways to die that I could

ever think of. After Macbeth kills Duncan, the rest of Duncan’s subjects try to

discover who killed Duncan. To conceal his own actions, Macbeth grabs his sword

and kills Duncan’s guards, whom he claims are the murderers. Macbeth

accomplishes his objectives, and now sits on the throne as king. Does he stop his

ruthless behavior? No, in fact, it becomes worse. Macbeth starts to kill people who

aren’t even involved with anything. When Macbeth discovers that Macduff has fled

to England in a hurry, he tells his plans to his servant:

Seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword

His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls

That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;

This deed I’ll do before this purpose cool.

( IV. i. 171-175)

The last of the three main characteristics of Macbeth is his deceitfulness. He

lies to protect himself in situations that could warrant his execution. After the king’s

murder, Macbeth slaughters the two guards in order to keep his secret. When

Macduff asks why the guards were killed, Macbeth says “Who could refrain/ That

gad a heart to love, and in that heart/ Courage to make’s love known” ( II. iii. 136-

137). He says that he loves Duncan so much that he is compelled to murder the

guards. This is a poor excuse, but he gets away with it. Once he is crowned king,

Macbeth begins to plan the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance. He hires a few

cutthroats and tells them “Both of you/ Know Banquo was your enemy”

( III. i. 129-130). He lies in order to trick the murders into thinking that Banquo is

their enemy. Therefore, the murderers kill Banquo while the Macbeth does nothing.

Later at the banquet, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost at the table. Macbeth yells and

screams until the ghost disappears. When the guest wonder why he is yelling,

Macbeth says that he suffers from a “strange infirmity” ( III. iv. 104). If he tells the

guests what he really saw, they would know that Banquo has been murdered, and

Macbeth must be involved. Deceitfulness plays a very big part in Macbeth’s life.

By the end of the play, the reader sees how Macbeth’s ruthlessness, ambition,

and deceitfulness intertwine together. Macbeth’s traits lead him on a downward

spiral that eventually kills him. Macbeth is a classic example of how things are in

life, and where people get their motivations from. Everyone needs to be a little

ambitious, but not too much. Without ambition, life will never go anywhere new.

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