Macbeth is a man of many admirable qualities. He is brave and valiant, as addressed by the Sergeant and Duncan, following the killing of the traitor Macdonwald. However, evidently through the gruesome deaths of Duncan`s enemies, a fierce and merciless Macbeth is seen. Yet a strong sense of loyalty emanates as he fights for his king. On the contrary to this fierce and merciless image, Macbeth is regarded as an extremely kind man prior to the murder of Duncan. After reading the letter Macbeth had sent to Lady Macbeth, she says, “Yet I do fear thy nature, it is too full o`the milk of human kindness…” (1. . 16-17). She is saying that Macbeth is much too kind-hearted to do what is necessary to become king. This respectable and admirable side to Macbeth is short-lived. In his effort to obtain power, his moralities are pushed aside, resulting with the destruction of his admirable self. His weak traits and characteristics gradually surface as the play goes on. Macbeth, following the introduction of Lady Macbeth, is seen as weak and indecisive as he yields to Lady Macbeth’s taunts and evidently questions his moralities.
After cowardly killing Duncan in his sleep, his morality results with him to be guilt ridden. From here, his morality only continues to decline with his desire to stay in power. To do so, Macbeth takes precautions to remain as king and orders the death of Banquo and Fleance. The idea of friendship is evidently ignored, as whereas he felt remorse and guilt from killing Duncan, little to none remorse was shown for killing his long-time friend Banquo. Subsequently, what morality he has left extinguishes when he orders the death of Macduff’s innocent family without even contemplating about it.
Whereas he was tormented by ghosts and voices for his past murders, the execution of an innocent child and wife does not even faze him. Morality is what keeps Macbeth in check and without it, Macbeth plummets from the levels of respect and admiration, to the depths where he is cursed at, despised, and consequently, defeated. The tragic hero of the play, Macduff, ultimately sacrifices his family and clear conscience for the liberation and prosperity of his country, Scotland. His passion and loyalty to Scotland, leads him to his quest to find the rightful heir to the throne and subsequently, leads to the death of his family.
A family is something that everyone holds dear in their hearts and for Macduff to lose his family; Macduff is essentially losing a part of him. Distraught in Macduff is quickly apparent following the news that his family was brutally slaughtered. Macduff’s response to this crime is, “He has no children. All my pretty ones?… At one fell swoop? ” (4. 3. 216-218) and, “I must also feel it like a man. ” (4. 3. 221). Macduff is saying that he will never be able to take proper justice as Macbeth has no children.
This indicates that his son is clearly dear to him and essentially means a part of him disappears forever as his son dies. Furthermore, when he says he must feel it like a man, there is even more emphasis to the grievance, guilt and anger he is feeling. Of the mixed emotions he is feeling, this guilt is what ruins his once clear conscience for the rest of his life. Despite knowing the possible dangers that his family will encounter, he decides to go to England still. Thus, when his family parts to the afterlife, so does his clear conscience.
Macduff is guilt ridden and lives everyday knowing he is partially to blame. Lastly, Lady Macbeth relinquishes her femininity, the ultimate sacrifice a woman can make, and relationship with Macbeth in order for him to obtain the crown. After reading the letter Macbeth sends her, she appeals to the spirits and calls for them to give her strength in order to persuade her husband to commit the murder. She calls to the spirits saying, “Come, you spirits…unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty,” (1. 5. 40-43).
It is here we see the beginning of the inner struggles she is destined to face as she continues down this path and knows she must sacrifice her femininity in order to help her husband. In addition to her already declining femininity, as she is undermining Macbeth and insulting his manhood, she mentions, “How tender tis to love the babe that milk me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out…” (1. 7. 55-58). In this quote, she is saying that she would kill a baby if Macbeth commits treason.
At first, Lady Macbeth presents the image of a loving, mother and child bonding, which expresses her feminine qualities. However, what femininity she expresses is quickly shutdown as she gives her disturbing example of her determination and thus, lack of femininity. In addition to her sacrifice of femininity, her relationship with Macbeth diminishes as well. After manipulating her husband to killing Duncan, there is a clear shift in power. Macbeth appears to require his wife less as he continues to be king and she slowly fades into the background.
Whereas Lady Macbeth was completely involved in the murdering of Duncan, she was not even informed about the killing of Macduff’s family. Furthermore, Macbeth seeks guidance from the witches rather than Lady Macbeth, reinforcing her declining importance. By the end of the play, when she is broken and guilt-ridden, Macbeth receives information about his wife’s condition through a doctor rather than in person. At this point, it is not even a relationship and whether or not Lady Macbeth is Macbeth’s, “dearest partner of greatness,” is questionable.