The Truly Tragic Shakespeare's Macbeth


To begin, the tragedy within the play Macbeth is enhanced by the murder of King Duncan. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is known as an honorable hero and ally of King Duncan. He then is confronted by the three witches and told his prophecy. They refer to him as the future king. “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.51) This gives Macbeth a brand new perspective. This new motive for the crown enhances the tragedy of the play when he brings this news to his wife, Lady Macbeth. She sets out a plan that includes the demise of King Duncan, eventually resulting in Macbeth being the new king. Macbeth is hesitant at first, however, Lady Macbeth assures him that he should be more of a man and go for the crown. “That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, and chastise with the valour of my tongue” (1.5.15-16). In that scene, Lady Macbeth states that Macbeth should come home so she can push him to murder King Duncan and take the crown for himself. This enhances the tragedy because this new motive Macbeth has, ultimately leads to loss of self later in the play along with conflict between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth due to her believing that he is not manly enough to do the job.

Secondly, the tragedy within the play Macbeth is enhanced by the murder of Banquo. At this point in the play, the character Macbeth’s underlying evil personality has taken over. In the three witches' prophecy, they reveal that Banquo’s offspring will be the future kings. “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none” (1.3.68). This conflicts with Macbeth’s wishes to be the future king, therefore he ultimately resorts to the idea that he must kill Banquo to succeed. The conflicts in this scene are between Macbeth and himself as well as Macbeth and Banquo. Macbeth’s honorable personality is fading as he chooses power over morals. Banquo has been his ally until this point in time, where Macbeth chooses power over an honorable, trustworthy ally. Throughout the first and third acts, it can be acknowledged that Banquo is protective, supportive, and would do anything for Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. “Whatever your highness commands me to do , it will always be my duty to do it” (3.1.17-20). With the blood of King Duncan on his hands, the murder of Banquo was the final downfall of Macbeth. It could be argued that his past self died along with them. This enhances the tragedy within the play because Macbeth has completely lost himself and let go of his morals, ultimately causing a conflict between him and himself.

Thirdly, the tragedy within the play Macbeth is enhanced when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo. After Macbeth has Banquo “taken care of”, a supernatural version of Banquo appears in front of Macbeth. “Prithee, see there! Behold! Look! Lo! How say you? Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too” (3.4.71-73). This furthers the conflict between Macbeth and himself. It also causes a conflict as the guests at the event begin to question Macbeth. At this point in the play, it is safe to say Macbeth has completely lost himself as he is hallucinating Banquo. It is quite possible that deep down Macbeth still feels guilt, as he is hallucinating Banquo after he had him murdered. Lady Macbeth is beginning to realize that Macbeth is losing who he is when she has to cover up for him at the event and reason his behavior to the guests. “Sit, worthy friends. My lord is often thus and hath been from his youth. Pray you, keep seat” (3.4.56-58). It is safe to say Macbeth is becoming someone unrecognizable. His choices have led him to this point where he may be closer to owning the crown, however not have anyone by his side apart from Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth had a vital role in Macbeth's behavior as she pressured him to be more of a man. That kick-started his internal conflict with himself, leaving him where he is now, hallucinating his best friend that he had his murder to ensure that he would be king. This enhances the tragedy as Macbeth’s internal conflict continues getting worse as he keeps choosing the need for power over his morals and allies.

Lastly, the tragedy within the play Macbeth is enhanced when Macbeth meets his demise. Although Macbeth believes otherwise, his plans are not going to plan. Yes, he had King Duncan and Banquo taken care of, however, he is not so successful in finishing his “mission” if you will. The son of King Duncan, Malcolm adds everything together and believes that Macbeth is responsible for his father’s death. This ultimately means that Malcolm wants revenge. Macduff is working alongside Malcolm to create an army to battle the king. Macbeth is told that Macduff is fleeing to England with Malcolm, which infuriates Macbeth, so he orders Macduff’s family to be murdered instead of Macduff himself. “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, seize upon Fife, give th’ edge o’ th’ sword, his wife, his babies, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool (4.1.156-162). After Macduff’s family is murdered, he wants Macbeth’s blood on his hands. They ultimately battle, and due to the witches’ prophecy, Macbeth believes that he is invincible. They stated that he can not be killed by anyone born from a mother’s womb. This made him feel invincible until he entered the battle with Macduff and was informed that he was born in the style of a C-Section after his mother was dead, meaning he was not genuinely born from a woman, more as he was “ripped”. “Despair thy charm, And let the angel whom thou still hast served. Tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb, ultimately ripped” (5.8.13-16). This could be described as a “loophole” and resulted in Macbeth’s demise as Macduff won their battle. The conflict between Macduff and Macbeth was rooted in the first decision Macbeth made that set him up for his demise. If he never killed King Duncan, he would most likely still be alive. This enhances the tragedy in the play as this conflict stemmed from a need for power and choosing the crown over and over again over his morals and conscience.

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