The play Macbeth portrays the message that the quality of one’s actions and the purity of their choices are reflected by the quality of their life. By analyzing the life of Macbeth and the characters involved in the play, one can easily see that the play teaches us that life is not always what power one achieves or how long one lives, but rather teaches us that how we live and the actions we take to improve the lives of others is more important than any quest for power. All characters within the story are given a deserving life that reflects what kind of person they are and what choices they have made during their lifetime. Whether a character is good or evil, the play shows that karma will come to all in time, no matter what or how hard they try to avoid it. The story of Macbeth portrays the theory of what you give is what you get and that our actions affect and reflect on others as well as our own lives.
Throughout the play, it is obvious that those who make choices for the good of others have a better quality of life and a much better mental state than those who make choices for evil. Valiant characters within the play, such as Macduff, prove that even though struggle and hardship, those who fight in the name of others to protect the things and people they love, lead a quality life of respect and loyalty. Macduff, the brave Scottish warrior that slays the tyrannical Macbeth, is the very symbol of humanity in the play. It is because of his good deeds and instinct to do what is right that leads Macduff to an overall good life. Macduff’s humanity is undoubtedly shown in the final battle between him and the tragic tyrant, Macbeth, in Act V scene viii. During the fight, Macduff bellows,
This quote portrays both Macduff’s nobility and humanity and his belief that he needs no words to know that he is doing the right thing in order to protect the country he loves, showing that he is undoubtedly a good character who is pure of heart. It is no question that Macduff is extremely loyal to his country and his king. When Macduff discovers the dead body of King Duncan after he is murdered by Macbeth, Macduff cries out, “Shake off this downy sleep, death’s counterfeit, and look upon death itself!… As from your graves rise up, and walk like sprites,/ To countenance this horror!” (II, iii, 76-80). Analyzing this quote, it is clear to see that Macbeth cares deeply for his king and is heartbroken to see the sight of his brutally murdered body. This scene shows that Macduff is not only a brave and fearsome warrior but is also sensitive and caring when it comes to his leader and his country, proving again that Macduff is a character of righteous heart. When his power is threatened, Macbeth sends assassins to murder Macduff’s wife and children while he is away on the battlefield. When Macduff is informed of his family’s murder, he is enraged and seeks revenge on Macbeth. However, knowing that revenge will only lead to more heartbreak and more mental damage, Macduff pushes aside his anger and replaces it with the will to do what is right, in order to avenge his family and put an end to Macbeth’s reign. After Macduff is informed of his family’s demise, Malcolm urges him to use his anger as a vessel to power his will and kill Macbeth. Macduff replies, “I will do so. But I must also feel it as a man” (IV, iii, 221), showing that he knows he must feel and control the anger in order to kill Macbeth instead of letting his rage consume him and damage him even further. Macduff’s good and praiseworthy character and level of mentality show that those who fight for good are given a respectable life as an award for their actions.
Side characters in Macbeth such as Banquo and Duncan also prove that the quality of one’s actions are reflected upon the quality of one’s life. Like Macduff being the symbol of humanity in the play, Duncan, the late king of Scotland, is the very definition of order. King Duncan, in his short presence in the play, clearly shows that he truly cares about the well-being of his kingdom and its people. Duncan’s purity and kinsmanship are both undoubtedly shown after his own murder when Macduff explains “thy royal father/ Was a most sainted king” (IV, iii, 108-109) to his son, Malcolm. This quote proves that the people of Scotland trusted and loved Duncan dearly and shows that Duncan returned those feelings as he cared deeply for his kingdom and its people. King Duncan had worked hard to gain the loyalty of the people and as a result, was awarded a life of support and loyalty. Next, Banquo, Macbeth’s old and dearest friend, also portrays the theory that what you give is what you get. When confronted and informed by the witches that he is the father of a line of kings to come, Banquo is at first excited but then hesitant to let the desire for power consumed him. In Act II, scene i, Banquo calls out,
“Merciful powers,/ Restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature/ Gives way to in repose!” (I, i, 7-9),
asking a power above to resist him from committing treason in order to receive power. In this scene, Banquo portrays a resistance and strength that Macbeth failed to have that resulted in his mental demise, proving that Banquo is a character pure of heart and will. Although being his good friend, Banquo is eventually murdered by hired thugs from Macbeth in cold blood once he is seen as a threat to Macbeth’s power. As he is being assassinated, Banquo cries out, “O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly!” (III, iii, 18), showing that Banquo, no matter what, is always concerned for the well-being of others and not himself. It is clear to see that Banquo leads a quality life of good mental health, happiness, and love, all because of his good-willed nature. Overall, both Duncan and Banquo prove that characters who defend the good in the play are awarded a good life.
The play Macbeth makes it apparent that good-willed characters are blessed with respectable lives for their actions. However, the same occurs for those who are evil. Characters of corrupt nature, such as Lady Macbeth, are plagued with horrid and tormenting lives. To start, Lady Macbeth is everything a woman shouldn\’t have been in the olden days. She is strong-willed, dominant and desires the power to do whatever she deems. In order to receive this power, Lady Macbeth will do anything to get it, even if it means shaming and insulting her own husband to the point that he will commit murder. In order to compel Macbeth, Lady Macbeth even goes to the extent of explaining that she’d be so ashamed of her husband that if they were to have had a child, she’d “ nipple from his boneless gums,/ And dash’d the brains out” (I, vii, 57-58). This quote shows how ruthless Lady Macbeth is and reveals her evil character and influence over Macbeth, causing him to brutally murder the king of her country. After Duncan’s murder, Lady Macbeth did not cease her inhumanity and continued to mock Macbeth for his foolish emotion over the murder. Macbeth expresses sorrow and regret after looking at his blood-stained hands and Lady Macbeth simply says
“A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight” (II, ii, 18-23).
This quote once again portrays Lady Macbeth’s evil and dark side and shows that even after committing treason, Lady Macbeth still has little regard for anything else but power. Similar to Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is punished for her actions and is tormented in her sleep, sleepwalking and talking. Although she puts a dominant act when in front of Macbeth after he commits the murder, Lady Macbeth is plagued with nightmares and visions of blood on her hands that she cannot remove. In Act V, scene i, the guards within the castle reveal that Lady Macbeth has a routine of sleepwalking and repeating a handwashing motion, all while repeating “Out, damned spot! Out I say!… who would have thought the old man to have had/ So much blood in him.”(V, i, 35-40). It is because of her previous scarring experience that she can no longer unsee or wash off the blood that has stained her hands, representing the blood of the souls she has caused to be killed. Essentially, Lady Macbeth is punished for her evil doings, resulting in a bad quality of life of nightmares and horrid visions that, eventually, cause her to take her own life through the act of suicide. Lady Macbeth’s character proves the theory that the evil are punished and get what life they deserve in the end.
Lastly, Macbeth is the final character whose life proves that the quality of our lives is reflected by the quality of our actions. Macbeth, before being confronted by the witches, is a loyal and fearsome knight who fights for the sake of his country and its people, and in return, he leads a good life and was awarded the title Thane of both Glamis and Cawdor. Macbeth’s previous life proves that when one fights purely for the good of others, good things will come. However, once the witches reveal to Macbeth that he shall become king, Macbeth’s morals take a turn for evil and his mental health begins to drop. The beginning of Macbeth’s demise can be seen right before he murders King Duncan when he states, “Is this a dagger which I see before me/ The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch/ Thee” (II, i, 33-35). At this point, it is obvious to see that Macbeth has allowed his desire for power to cloud his judgment and his purity of heart, causing him to see visions of daggers and ghosts. These ominous visions are a result of Macbeth’s deep and dark desire for power and blood. As the play progresses, Macbeth’s hubris consumes his more and more, resulting in even more punishment and karma for his evil actions. After committing the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth soon loses the ability to sleep peacefully. Macbeth, distressed and confused by his inability to sleep, reveals to Lady Macbeth,
“Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more!/ Macbeth does murder sleep’—the innocent sleep,/ Sleep that knits the raveled sleave of care” (II, ii, 35-37).
In the play, sleep is viewed as only acceptable for the innocent, and since Macbeth had committed a great crime (murder) while King Duncan was sleeping, Macbeth is tormented from lack of sleep and horrid nightmares. Lack of sleep and visions just one of the many punishments to come for Macbeth’s evil deeds. As he falls deeper into the blood and war, Macbeth slowly loses his mentality, becoming insane and falling into depression. By the end of the play, Macbeth has lost concept of what is truly important and is only focused on staying alive to hold on his power. Macbeth fails to notice that his queen, Lady Macbeth, has fallen deeply mentally ill and barely changes his emotion when he is notified of her death as he says
“She should have died hereafter” (V, v, 17).
Instead of agonizing over her death, Macbeth rather explains that her death is inconveniently timed and she should have died later so he could properly mourn. At this point in the play, Macbeth has fallen so mentally ill, poisoned by his newfound power, that he no longer believes anything meets the importance of his position as king, not even his own wife. As a product of his evil and trying to challenge his fate and fortune, Macbeth is given a deserving life of unrestful sleep, visions and severe depression and mental illness, proving the theory that one’s actions are reflected on the type of lives they lead.
Throughout the play, the characters of Macbeth prove that everyone receives karma that affects their quality of life as a result of their actions. Karma within the play allows for the audience to see parallelism within the character’s lives and what kind of personality they have. Whether their actions are good, like Macduff’s, or evil, like Macbeth’s, all characters in the play are given a reflecting life that parallels to the nature of their choices.