Why is Macbeth not worthy of our sympathy?i really appreciate any answers!!! :)

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Shakespeare's killing machine, Macbeth, horrifies his readers as he barely becomes aware of a wish or desire before he has hurled himself on the other side and committed it.  It is indeed his vaulting ambition that neither he nor his readers can forgive.

Despite the warnings of Banquo that

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray's
In deepest consequence— (1.3.134-136)

and his own recognition that "nothing is /But what is not," Macbeth hurls himself to the other side, quickly resolving

[Aside.] If chance will have me king, why, chance
may crown me
Without my stir. (1.3.155-156)
 

Fully aware of moral values, Macbeth recognizes the virtue in Duncan and has misgivings about murdering the king

Besides, this Duncan
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against
The deep damnation of his taking-off (1.7.16-20)

However, he allows himself to be persuaded by his determined wife. Further in this soliloquy at his castle, Macbeth realizes that his ambition overtakes any morality with which his conscience has wrestled and he has no valid reasons for slaying King Duncan,

I have no spur
To prick the sides of my intent, but only
Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other— (1.7.22-25) 

This vaulting ambition of Macbeth's drives him forward on his mad and murderous path of absolute tyranny as kills Lady Macduff and Macduff's son. Thus, because of these bloody and indefensible acts, as well as his recognition of the virture of those he kills and the immorality own selfish motives, Macbeth deserves no sympathy.

 

 

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