Summary: The Macbeth Story, Full Of Relentless Betrayal and Wicked Selfish Ambition

Macbeth, written by Shakespere is an immensely creative story, full of relentless betrayal and wicked selfish ambition. One of the most interesting components of this story is the relationship between the protagonist and his wife. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. The relationship between these two is both shocking and exhilarating, and is a great addition to the main storyline. When compared to the beginning of the play, the consequences of the events throughout the duration of the play prove that drastic changes have occurred between these two characters.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship begins strong but becomes disoriented throughout the play due to mental corruption, hunger for power, and inevitable insanity.

One component of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's bewildered relationship that will be discussed is mental corruption. Shakespere visits the topic of mental corruption quite a bit in this play, and not just with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. With that being said, Macbeth is the character that is the most deeply affected by it.

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His mind’s corruption in Act I causes a butterfly effect of consequences and eventually is what leads to his downfall. The three witches played a big role in corrupting Macbeth’s character by saying things such as “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor,” and “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter,” which marks the beginning of Macbeth’s sinister curiosity. This inquisitiveness becomes the very thing that kills him. Becoming Thane of Cawdor and King of Scotland is suddenly very appealing to Macbeth’s character.

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Hearing the word’s “Hail Macbeth” lights up a spark that was not there before. Because of this “prophecy” articulated to him by the three witches, Macbeth becomes mentally confilicted, and begins to see illusions and does things that the previous Macbeth would never even consider doing such as the murder of Duncan. At first, the prophecy proves to be very healthy for the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth had very malevolent motives for killing Duncan, stating that she would rather “pluck [her] nipple from [the child’s] boneless gums and dashed the brains out,” rather than breaking the promise to kill Duncan. The vivid description of Lady Macbeth brutally murdering her child with a smile upon her face is a great example of imagery, and causes the readers to visualize this horrific scene. With this, and her other ways with words, the two charcters prioritize Duncan’s murder and become the ultimate power couple; partners in crime. Lady Macbeth desires Macbeth to become king so badly, and because she helped orchestrate his rise to power, she believes that she will receive a piece of power/rule of Scotland. But as the readers eventually discover, this is not what happens, and Macbeth’s eagerness for power overtakes him and causes him to become careless for everything including his wife. The only thing that the corrupted King Macbeth truly cares for is himself.

An additional element that plays a role in the downfall between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is the complete insanity of Macbeth. Macbeth thought becoming king would solve all of his problems, but eventually he comes to understand that becoming king doubled his problems. During his reign, Macbeth realizes that the more power you have, the bigger the target is on your back. Because of this, he becomes paranoid all the time, which causes him to do merciless things. Killing his friends such as Banquo and King Duncan takes a toll on his mind, and is what pushes him over the edge. After the death of Banquo, Macbeth holds a celebration for his coronation. All is well until the ghost of Banquo visits him and Macbeth eventually erupts with, “Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee. Thou hast no speculation in those eyes. Which thou dost glare with!,” In front of all his guests during a celebration of his own rule, he screams at an entity that no one but him can see. Shakespere uses Banquo’s ghost as a form of symbolism to symbolize Macbeth’s insanity. The line, “Thou hast no speculation in those eyes. Which thou dost glare with translates to, “You are staring at me with eyes that have no power to see!” which implies that he is talking to a ghost. From the perspective of the others, this comes across as a sign of mental disorder, and makes them question their king. This is probably a big reason why no one comes to help Macbeth during the final fight with Macduff. Macbeth screaming at absolutely nothing causes Lady Macbeth to cover up for him, which makes things seem even worse for their relationship. This coronation was what truly opened Scotalnd’s eyes to Macbeth’s insanity. There is also another event that occurs earlier in the book which hints at Macbeth’s dark future. This event “Is a dagger which [he] sees before [him].” Shakespere included this hallucination during this soliloquy to foreshadow Macbeth’s evil motives and to hint at all of the bloodshed that will be caused because of his actions. Upon seeing the dagger, Macbeth feels as if future events are already set in stone by fate, and he has no part in controlling them. This vision is what initiates the conflicts in his mind, and is the beginning of what leads to his eventual insanity.

Another factor that contributes to the changes in Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship is hunger for power and ambition. At the beginning of the play, the thought of becoming a king, or being in a high position of power doesn’t even come across Macbeth’s mind. This all changes when the three witches tell him of the infamous prophecy. At first he is reluctant, but as the play progresses, he invests more and more into becoming the king of Scotland until that is the only thing that he desires. Macbeth will do whatever it takes to secure his position of power, even if it means sacrificing the ones that he holds closest to his heart. Killing Banquo is the first big plot point that Shakespere uses to indirectly show the reader the intensity of Macbeth’s ambition. Macbeth even goes as far as to say, “Fleance, his son that keeps him company, whose absence is no less material to me than his father’s, must embrace the fate of that dark hour.” Killing king Duncan was hard for Macbeth, but his relationship with the former king was nowhere near as strong as his relationship was with Banquo. Macbeth laughed, fought, and killed with Banquo, and to see his character hire random assassins to kill not only Banquo, but his son as well, really shows the reader how much Macbeth has changed. Although it is not explored in this play, Macbeth and Banquo seemed to have had a long lasting friendship prior to the events of Macbeth, and in this scene, Macbeth throws it all out the window just to secure his position at King of Scotland. It is one thing to betray a friend, but a whole different thing to betray a wife. Lady Macbeth played a key role in helping her husband become the King of Scotland, and Macbeth certainly would not have risen to power without her help. And although Macbeth did nothing to harm his beloved wife, when he hears the news of her death he doesn’t care. He thinks “She should have died hereafter; There would have been time for such a word.” which is horrible in of itself. The fact that Macbeth doesn’t ask how she died, nor does he mourn her is just sad to see. Macbeth simply stating that she “would’ve died eventually” makes the reader question if Macbeth still is the same person that he was on page one. After all that Lady Macbeth did to help her husband, she gets nothing from him in return. This scene in Act 5 truly marks the end of their relationship and love for each other.

Shakespere created something special with Macbeth. The story had a unique sense to it, and the author found a way to tell the story of a husband and a wife in a very different way. The primary reasons of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s downfall was Macbeth’s mental confliction, his selfishness in regards to power, and his phase of complete insanity. The three witches informing Macbeth of his future reign caused him to become disoriented. The feeling of power upon the throne only made him crave more power. And his hand in the murders of Duncan and Banquo made him go indefinitely crazy. It was because of these reasons that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship fell apart.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Summary: The Macbeth Story, Full Of Relentless Betrayal and Wicked Selfish Ambition. (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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