Unleashing His Demons: Blame In Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Unleashing His Demons: Blame in Macbeth
The difficulty humans experience when trying to resist resorting to violence is remarkable. From noble disputes to trivia night bar fights, violence is an alluring tool. In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the titular Macbeth is unable to resist the seductive nature of darker impulses. Spurred on by a trio of witches and his wife, Macbeth murders his liege, King Duncan, and becomes King of Scotland. He rules as a tyrant and his paranoia and bloodlust lead him further into evil. Eventually, the lords of Scotland rise up against him and he is deposed by the deceased king’s son, Malcolm. Macbeth refuses to yield and is killed in battle. The blame for Macbeth’s demise rests entirely on his own shoulders,
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Both the witches and Lady Macbeth are involved in Macbeth’s sins, but they never actually wield the knife. Every time, Macbeth actually does what other characters merely suggest. The witches tell Macbeth “All hail Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter”, and this prophecy, without mentioning murder, leads Macbeth to jump to the conclusion of killing King Duncan (1.3.48). When the witches tell Macbeth’s comrade (and foil) Banquo “Thou shalt get kings, though thou shalt be none. /So all hail Macbeth and Banquo.” Banquo doubts them, and the prophecy is fulfilled regardless of his inaction (1.3.65-66). The prophecies that tempt Macbeth into violence are not self-fulfilling, as the example of Banquo shows. The ideas for murder all come from Macbeth. When Lady Macbeth plans the killing of Duncan, “Only look up clear; / To alter favour ever is to fear. / Leave all the rest to me”, and urges her husband to kill him, Macbeth is unable to resist (1.6.71-73). As well, the conspicuous lack of involvement by Lady Macbeth in the evil acts Macbeth commits later in the play dispels any attempts to lay the blame on her. In the murders of Banquo and of Macduff’s family, she is not involved at all. Macbeth commits these acts alone, compelled by his own insecurity. Again, like the witches, while she may manipulate Macbeth, it is he who carries out the act. His deep and dark urges are merely waiting for an excuse to be let loose. Once the seeds of murder have been planted in his mind, Macbeth is unable to withstand the dark impulses others have stirred up within him. Blaming others for the murders Macbeth commits himself or orders himself is counter-intuitive. The hand that wields the sword bears the

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