Trust is like a mirror. Once it’s broken, you can never look at it the same again.
In the tragedy “Macbeth” written by William Shakespeare, betrayal is clearly evident through the frequent actions of the main characters themselves. The play takes place in Scotland, revolving around the life of a Scottish general named Macbeth who is one day told a prophecy about him becoming the new king. Without a doubt, Macbeth’s character throughout the play turns from a madman to a traitor to his country, his friends, and to himself.
Firstly, Macbeth’s disloyalty to his country clearly identifies him as a traitor. For example, Lady Macbeth says “…Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it..” (1.5.72-73) This quotation is significant towards Macbeth betraying his country because his wife Lady Macbeth is persuading him to seem as if he has good intentions to others but is actually sneakily throwing everyone else under. Macbeth complying with what Lady Macbeth says is clear proof that maybe he never really was loyal to his country in the first place. What happened to being good friends with King Duncan? What happened to protecting his land? What happened to his leadership? With a few words from his wife, Macbeth’s whole life turns upside down, leading his loyalty and his country to fall into turmoil.
Furthermore, Macbeth’s friendship with Duncan and Banquo is entirely exterminated due to Macbeth’s poor choices. Like a maddened snake, Macbeth not only murders Duncan himself but also sends out a group of murderers to assassinate his dear friend Banquo including his son Fleance, who luckily flees the scene unhurt. Macbeth’s fierce hatred towards his once good friend Banquo clearly states the fact that Macbeth is without a doubt a traitor to his friends. Banquo and Macbeth have fought side by side in the war, but who knew the one holding the blade to Banquo’s throat would have been Macbeth himself? The following quote is said by Macbeth “I am in blood, stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’ver” (3.4 167-170) This quotation is significant towards Macbeth’s madness throughout the play. Macbeth is saying that there is no turning back, that he has already made his bed, gone on with his day, made his decision. He has killed king Duncan so he is too far in. There’s no stopping him now. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand ? No, this hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red” Macbeth said (2.2 157-158). What Macbeth is saying in this quotation is that no matter what he does he cannot stop the treason he committed. The way he relates the fact that not even all of Neptune’s ocean could wash the blood off of his hands proves how much his mental state has escalated.
Macbeth is unavoidably a traitor to himself. One could say the biggest treason he committed was the betrayal of himself and his own mind and thoughts. There’s only a certain amount of pressure that a person can take. It’s like a glass. Imagine yourself holding a full glass of your favourite drink. After a minute, your hand is in perfect condition and your wrist feels at ease. After an hour, after a day, after a year, that drink will have become the worst thing you have ever laid your eyes upon.
On a more important note, Macbeth says “Methought I heard a voice cry, ‘Sleep no more!’ Macbeth does murder sleep” This quote specifically identifies how much Macbeth’s mental state has warped. He is comparing his own mind to one who does not sleep. The fact that he also hears voices now and even sees Banquo’s ghost (Act 3, Scene 4) clearly proves how much internal turmoil he is going through. Showing how far he has pushed himself and how much hurt he’s caused. He betrayed his once good intentions, his once happy moments, with what could have been so much more. You could say nothing lasts forever.
In conclusion, Macbeth’s character fluctuated throughout the play leading himself into a state of madness. He was also a traitor to his country, his friends, and to himself. We think, what if Macbeth would have trusted his emotions? Broke the cycles? What if Banquo would have known that his best friend was in anguish earlier? in time? And last but definitely not least, what if Fleance came back and did something about his father’s death? These things leave us readers wondering about what could have been for Macbeth.