Theme Of Death In Macbeth Essay Example


Death. It happens to everyone at any given moment in life. One minute someone is here, and the next they are gone. In the tragic story of The Tragedy of Macbeth written by William Shakespeare, death is a prominent factor throughout the many acts and scenes. Macbeth had killed many people, thanks to the prophecies given by the three witches, including the King of Scotland. Macbeth had been given three prophecies of his own though: Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and then to become the King. The prophecies were not given to Macbeth only, though. Banquo had also received a prophecy about his children becoming Kings; however, this would soon become a threat to Macbeth and his becomings. There would be many deaths to come at the hands of Macbeth, and this would lead to his own ending. So, in the end of all the tragedy, Macbeth is to die at the hand of Macduff, a man who wanted justice for the King and his own family. Who is really to blame for Macbeth’s death? Is it the witches that gave the prophecies? Macbeth’s own wife? Or was it himself? The answer is simple: Macbeth drove himself to his own demise due to his determination and him being easily manipulated. His death was based on free will and not fate, too. 

Above all, it is important to recognize that Macbeth had desires of his own that drove him mad, and it was a key factor to his death. He was a very determined man from the very start. Macbeth arrived back in Scotland with his friend Banquo after war had just ended. The witches told Macbeth he were to be named the new Thane of Cawdor, but he also found out he would be King. After Lady Macbeth received a letter from her husband about his becomings, she set a plan to have him become King sooner than later: murder King Duncan. Of course, Macbeth hesitates at first because of his loyalty to the King, but he finally caves in. Macbeth desired to be King too much that it drove him to killing a well-respected man. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red” (Shakespeare 2, 2, 61-64). Macbeth was guilty of treason, and the guilt overcame him. Macbeth would never be caught of his crimes, as he blamed the death of King Duncan on his guards who Macbeth had slain. With killing the guards, Macbeth could cover his tracks so they would not come clean about being innocent men. Since the death of King Duncan frightened his sons’, they decided to flee to different countries. Macduff set out on a mission to go find Malcolm so he could claim the throne and take the crown back to him family line. Later on, Macbeth’s friend from war, Banquo, was catching on to Macbeth and was starting to come to a conclusion that Macbeth killed King Duncan to become King faster. With Macbeth knowing that Banquo had this thought, he decided to have Banquo and his son, Fleance, murdered. Fleance were to be killed so Banquo would have no one to bear the throne. With Macbeth failing to kill Fleance, this could have led to terrible consequences. While gone, Macduff receives news that Macbeth had his entire family and servants killed. Once back to Scotland, Macduff wanted to get his revenge and kill Macbeth himself. Macbeth was slain for his determination and desires to be a strong King.

Equally important, Macbeth is dead because of his free will. “Macbeth is indeed responsible for his own actions which are provoked by Lady Macbeth, the witches, his ambition, and an unwillingness to listen to his own actions” (Anderson). It may have been other people directing Macbeth towards his actions, but he had a choice. The choices were simple as well: go through with multiple murders, or become king on other terms and be a good person. One may think that choosing to be a good person was the correct answer, but not Macbeth. Macbeth did not have to murder Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s entire family, but he did and that is on him. Macbeth did not have to go down the wrong path, but he chose to do so, leading himself to his very own demise. Who else would have really gotten Macbeth to go through with everything other than his conscience? No one. It is hard to imagine what would have happened if Macbeth never killed King Duncan in the first place. Macbeth decided to kill more people too. He never had anyone else to influence his decision in killing Banquo and the attempt at Fleance’s life. It was up to himself to make those decisions, which is why Macbeth’s death was his own fault and based off of free will. 

Some say, on the other hand, that Macbeth’s death was based off of fate rather than free will. People argue that without the witches giving their predictions to Macbeth, he would have never died. The witches gave Macbeth prophecies and apparitions that lead himself to his demise. Without the witches prophecies, Macbeth would not know what would happen to him in the future, leading him to go down a different route that would not lead to his death at the hands of Macduff. In Romeo and Juliet, also a tragedy written by Shakespeare, the audience learns that the death of two adolescents comes in the hands of fate. “This pressure fell onto Romeo and Juliet’s shoulders but they refused to bend and break by going with their gut feeling. Though, they did make their own choices, the story of Romeo and Juliet is controlled by fate over free will because of Juliet’s relationship to her father, the build-up of misunderstandings, and the resolve that followed their death” (Anderson). It is like a pattern in how Shakespeare writes his plays, the characters die because of fate. When Macbeth was told by the witches what his future had in store, his wife was eager to push it forward quicker. Lady Macbeth pushed Macbeth into killing King Duncan, and without the push he would have never thought to kill Duncan in the first place. “Only look up clear. / To alter favor is to fear. / Leave all the rest to me” (Shakespeare 1, 5, 71-73). Lady Macbeth told Macbeth he had to be fearless in order to complete the task at hand. Without her leading the way for the first killing at Macbeth’s hands, the probability of the death happening is slim to none. Although some people may think that Macbeth’s death was based on fate, it is clear that Macbeth’s death was free will and all up to his actions. 

In the end, Macbeth is dead because of his own free will. He is to blame for all his actions because he had the choice to change his actions. Despite the fact of the witches and Lady Macbeth giving him the information and ideas to go about his murders, he did not turn down any of it and decided to do what he thought was best for him. All Macbeth cared about was himself, and it is very evident. Throughout the play the audience gets a feel for who Macbeth really is as a person: selfish and arrogant. Everything Macbeth did was for his own benefit. This being said, Macbeth chose his path, it is just a shame that his way lead himself to his very own death at the hands of noble Macduff.

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