Who is really to blame in Macbeth?Who is really to blame in Macbeth?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are to blame. I wouldn’t say the witches are necessarily without guilt. But they really don’t make Macbeth do anything. They suggest vague visions but it is Macbeth who interprets them the way he wants. And it is Lady Macbeth who instigates and encourages the murder plot. Either the witches give Macbeth ambiguous hints or they are actually providing prophecies. In either case, they are not telling him what to do, or they are just predicting the future. They do not cause anything. They function like narrators.

Macbeth was once a loyal servant and becomes an ambitious, greedy tyrant. Lady Macbeth asks to be “unsexed” in order to be masculine enough, supernatural or unnatural enough to carry out the murder plot. Eventually, she becomes a shell of her former self. So does Macbeth. For both, this is a result of fear and guilt. This is the most obvious evidence of the case. No one is more consumed with guilt than Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. They are the only characters who have reason to feel that guilt.

Based on the way the other characters react to the Macbeths before the murders occur, we can assume that they were both relatively moral people prior to the play's beginning. They both become monstrous in order to carry out the murders. They do so by choice.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare the main antagonist is not necessarily a person or persons. It is clear that what caused most of the pain and suffering in the play is the weaknesses, temptations, and inner demons that each character already had as part of their personality. The inability to push away these limiting characteristics and to overcome them is basically what is really to blame in Macbeth.

The characters in Macbeth are mostly victims of themselves. Macbeth himself, for example, was the sort of individual whose weakness was to believe everything he heard, to accept superstitions as fact, to get easily persuaded by others, and to act without analyzing first. The same thing happened to Lady Macbeth. Who knows if they were really good or bad people, but one thing we can definitely tell: They were the bringers of their own fate, and it all happened because they were not strong enough to stop and analyze their hungry ambitions as well as to avoid their penchant for succumbing to their own weaknesses.

Therefore, it would be safe to say that the darkness of human nature as expressed in the need for power, ambition, lack of self control, and a weakened sense of will were the factors that destroyed Macbeth.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You can blame the witches too, though.  A couple of points:

  • What were they doing out there waiting for Macbeth?  They seem to me to be trapping him.  Sure, it's his fault for giving in to temptation, but they are also going out there for some reason and prophesying to him when they would not have needed to.
  • If it hadn't been for them, is there any reason to believe Macbeth would have thought of killing Duncan?  Again, it's his choice to do it, but the witches are the ones who put temptation in his way.
literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Not to go against everyone else (I believe that Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the witches are all, in part, to blame), but I would like to offer an alternative.  I believe that society is to blame.  Even today, people are out to better themselves at the cost of others.  We have seen this throughout history.  Therefore, Macbeth's desire to better himself in the face of society caused his actions.

desiree84 | Student

true... their both to blame