How and Why Macbeth Turns from War Hero to Villain

How and Why did Macbeth turn from War Hero to Evil Villain in Act 2 and 3

  Probably composed in late 1606 or early 1607, Macbeth is the last of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies, the others being Hamlet, King Lear and Othello.
          It is a relatively short play and is considered by many as Shakespeare’s darkest work. During this Scottish tragedy Macbeth’s ambition for power leads him to an unnatural realm of witchcraft, insomnia and then madness. On the level of human evil it is about Macbeth’s bloody rise to power, starting with the murder of the Scottish King, Duncan, and the guilt ridden pathology of evil deeds generating still more evil deeds. It does not require much for Macbeth to embrace the witches’ vision of him as the ruler of Scotland. Overriding his conscience and giving in to his ambitions, this leads Macbeth to make a fateful, immoral choice, committing evil, which in its turn generate guilt, fear and still more horrible crimes. An initially hesitant hero, Macbeth finally embraces evil as the only hope to secure his future. In Act 2 and 3 Shakespeare describes the development of Macbeth’s character from the moment of his sinful moral choice to the moment where he entirely commits to evil.

          The first description of Macbeth is that of a brave loyal soldier defending his king and country (1.2.16). The King is so pleased with Macbeth, calling him “noble Macbeth” (1.2.87). We are led to believe that Macbeth is a good man, loyal, courageous and determined.
          Macbeth is also an ambitious soldier. This ambitious nature of his is being sparked during the encounter with the
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witches and their prophecies. The witches, through their ambiguous prophecies, represent a supernatural power that introduces evil or at least evil potential into the play. The possibility of becoming king sets off evil thoughts. Macbeth knows that in order to become King, Duncan must die, by natural or...