Choices are essential for human growth. It is necessary to make decisions based off of your knowledge, and to weigh these options with your moral compass. Making decisions is a deeply personal process which requires one to look deeply into the retributions an action may have. In Macbeth, Shakespeare suggests that decisions affect the individual based on the moral goodness of a decision, and that a person is rewarded or admonished for their decisions.
The character most negatively affected by his decisions is Macbeth. His choice to accept evil into his heart, through the weird sisters led him to his demise. In my opinion, Macbeth is solely responsible for every evil act committed throughout the play because he is offered many chances to change his moral path, but decides to stick to his nefarious ways. Macbeth chose to buy into fate, which tempted him to kill the king after he became thane of Cawdor, which was the first half of the prophecy.
Macbeth’s consequence for murdering God’s representative, and therefore the representative of all that is sacred, is to become allied with exactly the opposite. He is doomed to live in evil and to bring himself to hell’s gates. His choices reflect his inability to cope with his immense grief after deciding to choose evil. Macbeth’s main flaw in his decisions is that he emanates repentance, but decides to continue sinning anyways, which is why he is damned to hell. Lady Macbeth is less so trapped in her decisions, but is still negatively affected by her choices.
Lady Macbeth is obviously very troubled by her own personal choices. However, unlike Macbeth, she can see the scope of how much damage she has done to the great chain of being. This key difference separates the two character’s final punishments to be radically different. On Macbeth’s side, he is killed by a harbinger of purity, Macduff, whereas Lady Macbeth commits suicide to justify her wrong doings and to sacrifice her blood as payment for the blood she caused to spill. This main difference allows Lady Macbeth to enter heaven, and therefore end her struggle for good here.
The struggle for good is a very key theme in the play, and the scope of purity is reached with Macduff at the very pinnacle, due to his immense sacrifices for the good of Scotland. Macduff’s honor and loyalty is tested and his fealty to the rightful king, and therefore to God, is immeasurably deep. Since Macduff is the living incarnation of his ideals, his killing of the evil locked away in Macbeth is justified and holy, just as lighting a candle in the dark is practical. Banquo is not as committed to his ideals, and therefore is less entitled to the spoils of his labors.
Banquo also chooses to struggle for good, but not quite to the extent that Macduff does. I believe that Banquo’s decision to not tell anyone of his suspicions of Macbeth is the main reason he had to be murdered. Banquo’s attempt to make sure that his heirs will be on the throne is the main reason why he dies, because he deserves to based off his choice to hide the truth. Even though his heirs never sit on the throne during the play, Fleance’s escape during the murder scene implies that eventually Banquo’s sons do hold Scotland’s sceptre. Through these characters, and their consequences, Shakespeare demonstrates the effect of personal choices.
Through Shakespeare’s characters, the audience gets a feel of how decisions affect one’s life. If a decision is made for evil, and that person is unable to grieve and forgive, like Macbeth, then that person is doomed to become an empty shell of the once great human being they once were. Macbeth cannot forgive himself for the evil he has already committed, so decides to be truly and fully evil by the end of the play. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth, who still makes decisions for wickedness and power, learns to regret her decisions and asks for forgiveness. She repays her debts in full by offering her life blood to the earth in payment for the spillage of Duncan’s blood. Through her suicide, she becomes whole once more and can be welcomed into heaven. On the other hand, Macduff struggles to become wholly good, and through this crusade to purity, is rewarded through his loyalty to the rightful heir to the throne to be a known hero and to be recognized as a saintly person.
He will most definitely be allowed into heaven through what we see in the play. Banquo, on the other hand, still struggles with good, and ends up more as a neutral character by his demise. His selfish attempts to seal the throne to his heirs by deciding not to share his insecurities about Macbeth create a liability for him to die, because he could have saved many lives. Instead, he chose to sit back and let fate decide what was to happen to Macbeth, which ended them both dead. Banquo can still ascend to heaven though, despite his mistakes, because he never broke any of the most sacred rules of humanity. Through these characters, and their varying states of death, Shakespeare provides a hierarchical guide as to moral decisions and implies that every human being can decide whether to follow in the footsteps of full evil, redeemed evil, full purity, or neutrally good.