Macbeth is arguably one of Shakespeare’s most spectacular plays, if judged by the number of theatrical productions it has inspired over the centuries. Macbeth himself is a fascinating character, and his quest for power is full of twists and turns. But Macbeth ‘s intrigue lies not so much in its main character; Macduff, Lady Macbeth , Macbeth ‘s hallucinations, and even Banquo all compete for first billing. The play is a tragedy not just because Macbeth dies in the end but also because Macbeth commits three great crimes throughout the course of the play. What are those terrible deeds?
In Act One, Scene Five, Macbeth meets three witches on a heath as night falls. In some productions they are hags who look as old as nature itself; in other productions they resemble beautiful women from the waist up and parodies of corpses from the waist down. They greet Macbeth with a chilling prophecy: ” All hail Macbeth ! Hail to thee , Thane of Glamis!” (1-3). Macbeth has recently been made Thane (or Earl) of Glamis, and Macbeth is understandably excited. But the witches intensify Macbeth ‘s excitement when they tell Macbeth that he will become Thane of Cawdor and then King of Scotland:
Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him . (9-11)
The prophecies in this scene are vague enough: Macbeth will only become king if he defeats his current rival, King Duncan. Macduff , whom we later learn Macbeth fears more than anyone else in the world, will not even enter the fray until Act Four. But the prophecy about Macbeth not being vanquished until the forest marches onto the castle is simple and absolute: Macbeth cannot lose. Macbeth does not know this yet, but he has already killed King Duncan and Macduff ‘s family, and Macduff himself will soon be on his way to Dunsinane Castle (the place Macduff now calls home). Macbeth can never be defeated as long as he stays where he is. But Macbeth decides to go after Macduff :
MacBeth: What wood is this?
Hecate: A piece of rowan.
MacBeth: Rowan wood , rowan tree , / Witch’s tree , we’d well / To break it from the root
Hecate: Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him . (37-41)
Macbeth is now well aware that he cannot be defeated as long as he remains in Dunsinane Castle. Macbeth could have fled for his life, but he decided that the only way to win was to kill Macduff . This is Macbeth ‘s first crime, and it happens so quickly after the prophecies are given that Macbeth has not even had time enough to enjoy them! But Macduff will soon learn about what happened back at the castle, and Macduff will think of a clever way to defeat Macbeth . Macbeth ‘s second crime is to kill Macduff ‘s wife and children.
Macbeth has already committed one crime, but Macbeth will commit another one if he can find Macduff ‘s family first. Macduff does not yet know about the murder of his king or Duncan’s sons, but Macbeth knows that it would be easy to lure Macduff into a trap by pretending to protect his family. Macbeth has sent murderers to kill Macduff ‘s family before Macduff himself arrives, so when Macduff finally discovers what happened there is no question that he will retaliate immediately:
” Had I but died an hour before this chance / I had liv’d a blessed time; for from this instant / There’s nothing serious in mortality: All is but toys; renown and grace is dead, / The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees / Is left this vault to brag of. (45-49)
The whole world has become so fragile that Macduff ‘s family could be killed and he would not even notice until after Macbeth defeated him. Macbeth ‘s third crime involves Lady Macbeth . At first she seems as devoted as ever to Macbeth , but at the end of Act Five, Scene One she cannot bear the guilt anymore.
Macbeth’s story is about an ambitious man who kills his own king to take over power. Macbeth becomes so afraid of being overthrown that he commits even more atrocities which eventually lead to his downfall.
What are Macbeth’s three great crimes?
Macbeth committed the first crime when he killed King Duncan, Macbeth’s friend and King of Scotland. Macbeth also committed the second crime when he began killing people for having less than good characters in order to secure power. Macbeth was able to get away with these crimes because he believed that he would become king if there were no other successors left alive. After Macduff, Macbeth’s enemy, was informed that Macbeth killed Macduff’s family Macduff fought Macbeth to take down Macbeth. Macduff succeeded in killing Macbeth and Macbeth’s crime spree ended. Macbeth then dies at the hands of MacDuff.
What are Macbeth’s crimes?
The three Great Crimes of MacBeth are his murder of King Duncan, the killing of Banquo, and finally, Lady Macbeth. All these bring about consequences for Macbeth, which lasts throughout the play until he is slain by MacDuff in Act 5. The consequences include his offspring being killed off one by one, including his own death at the end of MacDuff’s sword, Macbeth’s death.
The first crime Macbeth commits is the murder of the king, MacDuff. Macbeth kills MacDuff, his friend and King of Scotland, for selfish reasons. MacDuff had recently become king after the death of Macbeth’s father-in-law, King Duncan. Macbeth was so blinded by power that he killed Macduff who was heir to the throne, which led to Macbeth becoming king. This act is called fratricide because it is when someone kills their brother or sister. The second crime Macbeth commited was killing all the noble people left in Scotland.
Lady Macbeth tells him he must “screw [his] courage to the sticking place…kill Macduff / And be king” Macbeth kills Macduff ‘s family and MacDuff heads off to confront Macbeth. Macbeth has committed a sin because he does not have a just cause for what he is doing. Macbeth just wants power, but Macduff only wants justice. The third crime Macbeth commits is when Macbeth kills his own queen, Lady Macbeth. He commits this murder because she would no longer support him in killing Duncan’s sons after they discover that Duncan had been killed by Macbeth.
The three great crimes of Macbeth are also called “the threefold fear,” where it first MacBeth kills MacDuff, Macbeth’s first great crime occurs, which sets off Macbeth’s fears of being overthrown by MacDuff. The second fear Macbeth has is not only does he kill MacDuff but also Macduff’s family to secure his throne. His final act of “the threefold fear” is when he kills his good friend and wife, Lady Macbeth.
The first crime the audience sees Macbeth commit is fratricide (murdering someone who one would think would be your closest ally). King Duncan praises Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor and future king.