In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, is Macbeth morally responsible for his actions or was it caused by witchcraft?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In William Shakespeare's Macbeth, one question is the issue of moral responsibility. One might be able to blame the women in the play by suggesting that without the encouragement of the three witches and Lady Macbeth, that Macbeth himself would not have had the courage to kill Duncan. There are some reasons to say that even were that the case, it really doesn't affect moral culpability.

First, Macbeth was not compelled to listen to the witches and act upon their advice. Banquo points out that they are evil and that they should not be heeded, but Macbeth is sufficiently power hungry to listen anyway. If you think of the play in the Christian context in which it was written, it suggests that we can only be tempted to evil if we have evil in our hearts.