William Shakespeare's Tragedies: Macbeth
It is a story about a man who in order to become a king and maintain his power has to do certain things. The play essays ambition, power, cruelty, violence and guilt. It is the shortest tragedy written by William Shakespeare. It is also the bloodiest of all the tragedies penned by him.
The story begins with thundering and lightning and the meeting between Macbeth and three witches. Macbeth and his Banquo have just returned after fighting a war are confronted by the witches. The witches tell Macbeth that he will be awarded the title of Thane of Cawdor and that he will become a king. When this actually happens, he thinks that the witches were saying the truth. It occurs to him that he can indeed become the king but he will first have to kill King Duncan.
Macbeth initially hesitates but is persuaded by his wife, Lady Macbeth in executing the assassination. They plot and kill the king in his sleep and the guards are charged for the murder. After killing Duncan, Macbeth is driven by the lust for power and removes anyone who comes in his way. He even goes to the extent of getting Banquo, his friend killed.
Macbeth's past comes to haunt him when he sees the ghost of Banquo at a celebration feast. He is taken aback by seeing his friend's ghost and starts behaving in a weird manner. This arouses the suspicion amongst the people about his role in the murders.
Macbeth approaches the three witches for help. They tell him that no one defeat him, until Great Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. However, they tell him that Banquo's sons shall be crowned as kings. Macduff and Malcolm, son of slain king Duncan decide to avenge the death of their loved one's by joining forces and preparing to attack Macbeth's castle.
Lady Macbeth, who had encouraged her husband to commit the murder, was finding it difficult to live with the guilt of what she had done. She soon was driven towards madness. She started walking in her sleep and would constantly wash her hands to get rid of the blood and guilt.
Lady Macbeth could not live with this guilt for long and committed suicide. When Macbeth hears about his wife's suicide, he realizes that in his greed to obtain power, he had lost everything he had including his wife and most importantly, his soul.
At the end, the Macduff and Malcolm troops approach the castle disguised as tree branches from the Birman Wood. Macbeth was finally facing Macduff and tried to put up a brave show. However, Macduff kills Macbeth by beheading him. With the death of Macbeth, Malcolm ascends the throne and becomes the king.