What is the true meaning of Shakespeare's Macbeth? Is the main character responsible for his fate, or is someone else/something else to blame? Can it be said the wife pushed him over the edge,...

What is the true meaning of Shakespeare's Macbeth? Is the main character responsible for his fate, or is someone else/something else to blame? Can it be said the wife pushed him over the edge, causing nothing but torture and his horrible fate in the end?

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tamarakh's profile pic

Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It can be considered that the most dominant theme in Shakespeare's Macbeth concerns the consequences of excessive ambitious drive. But a question certainly stands, who had the most excessive ambitious drive, Macbeth or Lady Macbeth? It can indeed be argued that Lady Macbeth is the character who truly had excessive ambitious drive, and she pushed Macbeth over the edge, leading to nothing but a torturous, horrible fate.

We first particularly see the contrast between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's ambitious drives in the letter Macbeth writes his wife, found in Act I, Scene V. Due to his wording, it is quite evident he is content to wait for his fate to simply happen, as he states the only purpose of the letter is to inform her, his "dearest partner of greatness," so that she "mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing"; plus, he tells her only to "lay it to [her] heart" (12-15). In other words, he is saying that the only reason why he has told her this news is so that she can be happy with him; he wants her to take no action beyond being happy. In contrast, immediately after reading the letter, Lady Macbeth states she fears his nature is "too full o' the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way" (18-19). In other words, Lady Macbeth is showing she is not content to sit idly by and let fate happen; instead, she wants to encourage him to commit murders so that he might inherit the throne immediately. Hence, we can certainly say that Lady Macbeth's excessive ambitious drive influenced Macbeth and is the primary cause of Macbeth's wrongful decisions and all of the ensuing grief.

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angelatorres3's profile pic

angelatorres3 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

The story of Macbeth is truly powerful and such a tragedy. One of my favorites stories of Shakespeare. My original prediction of lady macbeth being the reason Macbeth committed such crimes seems to stand. Others considered Macbeth himself to be the reason he becomes his own antagonist. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Such an amazing story. 

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