Even though people in retributive justice feel satisfaction, the perpetrator can also suffer. William Shakespeares powerful Macbeth shows the deterioration of an honourable and respectable general, Macbeth, who becomes a tragic hero after temptations from the witches and his wife to perform murders. Macbeth soliloquies enable the audience to experience the conflict within Macbeth and thus, gain an understanding of the reasons for his behavior and decisions. As a result, the tremendous reversal of Macbeths fortunes in the end leaves the audience filled not with pity, but also awe, at the realization that people can suffer greatly.
Macbeths soliloquies before the murder of Duncan shows the vigorous internal struggle of himself, as his conscience is fighting against his evil minds. Also, they shows Macbeth has brought his own downfall upon himself. The audience will then feel pity about Macbeths deterioration brought by himself when witnessing his choice of following the evil. Macbeth is a courageous and honourable general in Scotland. His success in the battle against the invaders of Scotland gains respect from the King Duncan and his fellow soldiers. However, the demonic forces, symbolized by three witches, temptates Macbeth.
The witches hail Macbeth as the Thane of Glamis and Cawdor who will be king and hail Banquo, who is a nobleman of Scotland and Macbeths friend, as one who will become the father of a line of kings. Macbeth ambition deep in his heart starts growing at that time. In Act I, scene iii, when Macbeth is thinking about the fulfillment of the two prophecies given by the witches before, “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes my single state of man”(I, iii, 139- 140) In this soliloquy, Macbeth reflects his idea about the “two truths” told by the witches. He is ambitious to become king, as he reacts nervously when the witches mention his fate.
The very idea of murder “shakes his single state of man”. However, at this point, he is loyal to the king, and he rejects the idea of murder, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir.”(I, iii, 143-144) The predictions by the witches may have strengthened the criminal intentions that he had probably never yet dared to express clearly, even to himself. He is not alliance with crime, he is neutral, but obviously temptation is working upon him. Yet, he might overcome the promptings of his evil ambition by an effort.
After the battle, Macbeth is greeted with effusive thanks by Duncan. Duncan then announces that he will make Malcolm heir to the throne. In Act I, scene iv, Macbeth in his aside states that this announcement is a bar to his ambition and calls upon darkness to cover what he wishes to be done: That is a step on which I must fall down, or else oerleap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires: The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see (I, iv, 49-54) As Duncan makes the announcement, Macbeth starts wondering if murder is the only way in which he can achieve the kingship.
His ambition overcomes his finer nature. He calls upon the stars to hide their light, indicating that his “black” desires comes out, and he thinks it is too evil to be seen. Macbeths image of the eyes winking upon the work of the hand is expressive both of his intense aversion to the deed and of his intense desire to get what the deed will accomplish. At the same time his “let that be” marks the point at which his fascinated contemplation of the thought of murdering Duncan becomes a resolution, although he will waver from it.
The opposition between eye and hand is indicative of the civil war within him. In Act I, scene iv, shortly after Duncans arrival to Macbeths castle, Macbeth gives voice to his feeling concerning the rashness and the awfulness of the projected murder: If it were done when tis done, then twere well it were done quickly. If th assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch, with his surcease, success; that but this blow might be the be-ball and the end-all — here. But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, wed jump the life to come. But in these cases we still have judgment here. (I, vii, 1–8) At this point, Macbeths character has fallen to the point where he has the desperate courage to commit the murder, but is afraid of the consequences.
He gives three reasons for not performing the murder. First, it would be imprudent. Secondly, it would violate the blood-tie of a kinsman, the allegiance of a subject, and the duty of a host. Finally, he suggests that Duncan has been so blameless a king that to kill him would be monstrous.
He controls his ambition for the moment and resolves not to kill the king. However, if he assures the safety during his life, he would gladly “jump the life to come”. Finally, Macbeths wife, Lady Macbeth, reveals Macbeths weakness of his decision, by calling him a coward without manhood and says that Macbeth does not really love her. Her speech changes Macbeths mind, all his fears are vanished.
He is then no longer troubled by any sense of morality, and determines to proceed the murder. From that time, he plunges into a life of evil. Consequently, the conflict between Macbeths conscience and his evil instincts is enormous. However, his struggle against the temptations becomes weaker and weaker each time: from the point he is able to reject the idea of murder to gain the kingship, to the point he is will to commit it only regarding the risks, and finally his decision to perform the evil deed. All these suggests that he has brought his own deterioration in character.
It is mainly due to his weakness in the face of temptation and his ambitious character. He could overcome the temptations and the promptings of his evil ambition by an effort, but he chooses not to. His gradual downfall of character brought by himself heightens the tragic effect. People will always feel to see such a respectable hero turning from good to evil, when experiencing the extreme conflicts within himself and witnessing his choice to become the slave of evil.