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Macbeth: Hero Or Monster

It has been said by some that the character in Shakespeare’s, Macbeth, should be seen as a hero and not a villain. However, if we look closely at the play, it becomes harder and harder to see how this opinion can stand. If we consider the source of Macbeth’s decision to commit murder, the motivation behind his actions, and how things end for him and Lady Macbeth; we immediately see that Macbeth was in fact a monster rather than a hero.

Advice from witches

What starts off a series of dark events is Macbeth’s encounter with three witches. Here already we should be able to hear warning bells. The nature of advice that can be derived from those who practice dark magic is never good. To even consider that witches would have anyone’s best interests at heart is naive and unwise. The witches promise Macbeth power and influence, but fail to mention at what price that power and influence will come. All they did was plant a seed into his mind that grew into a lust for power—a power he sacrificed everything to keep.

A root of evil

At the heart of the murderous acts Macbeth and Lady Macbeth committed is a root of evil motivation. It was their lust for royalty that motivated them to commit murder, and their fear that they would lose that power which motivated them to murder again. Lust and selfish fear are not aspects found in true heroes. Their paranoia stemmed from their guilt, and this paranoia eventually led to madness.

No redemption

At no point do Macbeth or Lady Macbeth repent of their deeds, despite the maddening guilt they experience as a result. Instead, they allow their deeds to drive them even deeper into the evil they have created for themselves. The ending of this play gives us an indication as to whether Macbeth was a hero or a monster. He and his wife die, an ending that contains no redemption for either one of them.

A world where Macbeth is seen as a hero rather than a monster is not a world many of us would enjoy living in. No matter how liberal our society may become, Macbeth and his wife should forever be seen as examples of how not to act. Bad advice, skewed morals, and an insatiable lust for power will do nothing but wreak havoc and fear into our lives.


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