The Forces of Evil Leading to the Deterioration of Macbeth

What could corrupt a man to the point of him taking the lives of the people whom he holds so dear to his heart? In William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth is so overcome with greed that he loses all sense of what’s right and what’s wrong. I feel that the cause of Macbeth’s greed is due solely to the forces of evil around him. His innate greed, his actions precipitating from it, and Macbeth’s immortal mind set had forced him to take the lives of the people he loved.
Macbeth is a man stricken with greed due to the prophecies of the three witches. Returning form battle, Macbeth and Banquo meet up with the three witches. “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.52-57) Little did Macbeth know that these three prophecies planted in his mind would change his life from that point on. Upon his arrival home, King Duncan grants Macbeth the title of “Thane Cawdor.” He was astonished by the truthfulness of the witch’s prophecies. Macbeth believed in the prophecies and became obsessed with them, particularly the one stating, “All hail Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.56-57) Stricken with greed, he would stop at nothing to obtain the throne, even if it meant committing murder.
The actions of his greed eventually resulted in murder; the most significant of which was King Duncan. The murder of King Duncan literally drove Macbeth insane. It led to the murder of Banquo, and the near murders of his son Fleance, as well as the wife and children of Macduff. The death of Banquo, and attempted murder of Fleance, was not only brought on by Macbeth’s fear of Banquo’s integrity and nobility, but also by the prophecies of the witches. The witches said about Banquo that “Thou shalt get king, though thou be none…” (1.3.74-75) meaning Banquo himself would never become king even though his heirs would someday gain the throne. Macbeth thought he also had to beware of Macduff, as was foretold in the witch’s prophecies. When Macbeth heard of Macduff’s departure to England to warn the true heir of the throne, Malcom, of the goings on in Scotland, he sends someone to Fife to kill Lady Macduff and her children.
Also, because of the witch’s prophesies, Macbeth began to believe that he had become immortal. Macbeth meets again with the three sister witches and asks them to answer some questions. They gladly do so, using a series of apparitions, one of which says, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough.” (4.1.79-81) Then, another apparition states a reassuring prophecy, “Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn the pow’r of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” (4.1.89-92) During the final battle between Macbeth and Macduff, Macbeth boasts that no man born of woman could ever kill him. “And let the angel whom thou still has served tell thee, Macduff was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped.” (5.8.17-20) The fighting proceeded and Macbeth was killed. His belief of immortality lead to his destruction.
I feel the evil forces surrounding Macbeth are what caused him to do the things he did. Macbeth’s greed and the resulting actions, along with his immortal mindset, were all foretold by the witch’s evil prophecies in which he believed. He became so greedy that he murdered others because he wanted to become King. It ultimately led to his own destruction, and to the proof that he was not immortal after all.


English Literature, Period 2
November 15, 1999

Thesis Statement

The fall of Macbeth is brought on by the forces of evil that surrounded him and by his own mind set that he had become immortal. The “power” of the prophecies of the three witches became imbedded in Macbeth’s mind in such a way, that he lost all common sense, the ability to reason, and his morals. It eventually resulted in his own destruction and to the destruction of those he cared about.