How does Shakespeare hold up a mirror to humanity through Macbeth?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare holds up a mirror to humanity by showing his audience how relatively simple and easy it is for a good person to become corrupted by ambition and pride and greed.  Many of us would like to think that we could never become as crooked as Macbeth does, but Shakespeare shows us that it only takes one odd interaction and then a push from someone we trust to swell our ambition so that it becomes a real danger.  When Macbeth is fighting bravely in the two battles that begin the text, no one would have imagined that he would kill the king whose realm he defends.  Everyone is happy for Macbeth when Duncan rewards him with a new title, the Thane of Cawdor, and no one thought that Macbeth would turn traitor just as the former thane did.  It doesn't take much, though, for Macbeth to give up his best and most admirable qualities, and so Shakespeare implies that the same could be said for many more of us, if we are manipulated in the right way.