Macbeth Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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How is Oedipus from Oedipus Rex a different kind of king than Macbeth from Macbeth?

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Macbeth wants to be king just to take power.  He seems to do absolutely nothing kingly once he is there.  A true king is a leader and cares about his country and his people.  Macbeth clearly does not.  He is more interested in himself.  After becoming king, he kills many of his subjects to ensure that he stays king.  He also leads them into pointless battle and risks their lives to maintain his tenuous throne.

When a servant tries to tell Macbeth that soldiers are coming, he does not want to hear it and threatens the servant, calling him a coward.

Go prick thy face and over-red thy fear,

Thou lily-liver'd boy. What soldiers, patch?

Death of thy soul! (Act 5, Scene 3, p. 80)

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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ebettencourt | Student

Interesting question. At first glance, Oedipus may be considered the better king. However, his hubris makes him so blind that he becomes quite cocky and insulting to those who try in vain to help him see the truth (such as Tiresias). This is surely not a good quality in a king.

Macbeth is arguably not blind to much . . . he is fully aware of his evil acts and even their consequences, but commits them anyway.

Oedipus may be the better king since he may be found to be less evil than Macbeth surely, but he still has his major faults which should not be ignored. Really he is just the better of two evils.