Does Macbeth deserve our sympathy in Shakespeare's "Macbeth"?At the end of the play, Macbeth loses his wife,realizes that he had been deceived by the witches,fights valiantly against Macduff, but...

Does Macbeth deserve our sympathy in Shakespeare's "Macbeth"?

At the end of the play, Macbeth loses his wife,realizes that he had been deceived by the witches,fights valiantly against Macduff, but dies. Give reasons for your answer. Please refer closely to Act 1 scene 3 and Act 1 scene 5 in your answer.

Asked on by limjiahui

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Macbeth deserves no sympathy.  Again, the old moral that one is ultimately responsible for one's actions comes into play.  With Macbeth's unconscionable acts, the reader is reminded of the story of Doctor Faustus, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for supernatural powers.  So, too, has Macbeth sold his soul to the supernatural powers and must pay the price.

While Macbeth may be somewhat seduced by the three sisters, he still has the free will to choose what course his life will take.  In Act I after the "three sisters" pronounce their prediction, Banquo warns Macbeth of the danger of placing faith in what the preternatural powers tell him; he cautions Macbeth that witches' words are often tricky and incomplete:

That, trusted home,/Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,/Besides the Thane of Cawdor.  But 'tis strange:/And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,/The instruments of darkness tell us truths,/Win us with honest trifles, to betray 's/In deepest consequence. (I,iii,120-127)

Despite this warning, in his cupidity Macbeth ignores his premonitions that "This supernatural soliciting/Cannot be ill, cannot be good" (I,iii,130-131), and considers still that "If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me without my stir" (I,iii,144).

So, while Macbeth hopes that Fate will take care of things, Lady Macbeth's ("Leave all the rest to me" (I,v,72) and his own ambitions effect their tragic mistakes as they take Fate into their own bloody hands.  For, it is not "chance" that kills Duncan; it is not "chance" that murders Macduff and his family. It is the hand of Macbeth. For, in his overwhelming desire for power, Macbeth sells his very soul and commits evil, causing the tragedy known as "Macbeth."

 

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