Premium Essay

Downfall of Macbeth

In: English and Literature

Submitted By clairebear
Words 990
Pages 4
The downfall of Macbeth is most often attributed to either his own ambitions run amok or the influence of his wife's Machiavellian manipulations. The husband and wife work in tandem to bring about the prophecies of the Weird Sisters, and it is Macbeth's hand that does the greater evil deed against Duncan and the only evil against Banqo and MacDuff's family members; in essence the rise of the Macbeths to power is one of shared responsibility. Their downfall is played out on the same road as they travel in opposite directions to and from being responsible for their own fate.
The belief in the occult is an element of the play that drives its tragedy; an element that may be lost on modern audiences looking to find motivation for Macbeth's murderous deeds. The belief in prophecy is particularly important in gaining a foothold on understanding the downfall of Macbeth and his Lady. When Macbeth first comes upon the Weird Sister and they roll out the prophecies for both Macbeth and Banquo, and by extension Duncan and his family, more is going on than just a foretelling of the future. The prophecies instill in Macbeth the realization of his dreams, of course, but they also portend that the darkest fears of Macbeth will be realized alongside his dreams. Without Macbeth's unquestioned belief in the occult and acceptance that the Weird Sisters have the power of prophecy, there would be neither a rise nor a fall. If the rise of Macbeth to king can be said to be a combination of belief in the Sisters and the manipulation of his wife, his fall comes about as the result of a fatal mistake on his part: mistakenly believing that he has the power to deny the future as foretold.

Macbeth fervently believes in the power of the occult, yet he does not accept his role as mere recipient of the power of fates beyond his control. Just as he is indecisive before the murder of Duncan,…...

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...One of the main ideas in the Shakespearian play Macbeth is deception, which is not only practiced by the villains but by other characters as well who have to rely on this at the time of disorder and distrust. However, Malcolm’s deception in testing Macduff’s loyalty and in deceiving Macbeth about the number of his troops is far less crucial as the central motif of the play, for it is the deception conducted by both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that grapples the interest of the audience with its resounding morals about human nature. It is one thing to be deceived by another person and quite another to “fool yourself” by engaging in self-deception. Of all forms of deception, I think it can be argued that self-deception is perhaps the worst. In the words of Bemos Thenes, “Nothing is easier than self-deceit for what man wishes he also believes to be true.” Self-deception is a human weakness. It means that even though something maybe wrong and untrue if an individual believes it enough it will come to pass. No matter what someone may say, it is hard to change ones opinion because that is what the person truly believes. This is portrayed in William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, through the actions of various characters. Shakespeare clearly shows the idea of self-deception through their actions and how this self-deception leads to moral disorder. Deception is introduced to the play right from the beginning when the three witches meet to talk, the mood being nothing is quite as it......

Words: 760 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...critics consent in widespread statements and observations concerning Shakespeare’s universe, many of the prevailing allegations are debatable. Macbeth, his shortest and bloodiest tragedy tells the story a Scottish general who receives the prediction from a trio of witches that he’ll soon be King of Scotland. Driven by ambition and the influence of his wife, he spurred in action and murdered King Duncan in order to gain the crown. His mind, being clouded with fear and guilt, rapidly results in a tyrannical reign and a succession of murders to protect what he acquired from enmity and suspicion. Circumstances promptly consummate the one reputed hero into madness, ending in a miserable death. Macbeth, weighed as one of Shakespeare’s most powerful and emotionally intense tragedies, radiates madness from its opening to its conclusion. As previously said, one can be overwhelmed with the diversity of analysis done in Shakespeare’s creations, to which Macbeth is not exempt. The article written by J. Lyndon Shanley,Macbeth: The Tragedy of Evil offers plenty of elements to dissect. Therefore, taking the mentioned text in reference and the play itself, it’s plausible to affirm that beyond responsibility and culpability attributed to Macbeth, the exterior forces that intervened shouldn’t be disregarded as an influential factor. The story of Macbeth, is perhaps the best example of the widely known phrase “Man is born good and through society he becomes corrupt”by Jean Jacques Rousseau.......

Words: 765 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...In Macbeth, ambition is characterized as a dangerous quality. Ambition is the downfall of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, which triggers the murders that take place in Macbeth. Although, Macbeth’s tragic flaw is ambition, it is the driving force of the play which is influenced by Lady Macbeth and the three witches. Lady Macbeth plays a major role in the downfall of Macbeth. She influenced and convinced Macbeth to commit the murder about Duncan, believing that the power would bring both of them happiness. Lady Macbeth says “Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise thee with the valour of my tongue. (Shakespeare 353)” It is as though Lady Macbeth is Macbeths bad conscious. She remarks, that she will solve his dilemma by poisoning his mind with her evil plan of murdering Duncan. Unlike her husband she is made of sterner stuff and has no moral scruples because she is evil to the core and decides to convince Macbeth to murder the king. This is the first murder victim of Macbeth. After the death of King Duncan, Lady Macbeth commits suicide which it is another breaking point of his down fall. Macbeth’s quest and desire for the power caused him to become a man of no emotions. Macbeth is an easy person to persuade and convince. Since the three witches gave him his prophecies, Macbeth’s character changed gradually over the course of the play. He became obsessed with making sure the prophecies come true as well as having a strong desire for power......

Words: 655 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO THE SIGNET CLASSIC EDITION OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S MACBETH LINDA NEAL UNDERWOOD S E R I E S E D I T O R S : W. GEIGER ELLIS, ED.D., ARTHEA J. S. REED, PH.D., UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA, EMERITUS and UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, RETIRED A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classic Edition of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth 2 INTRODUCTION William Shakespeare developed many stories into excellent dramatizations for the Elizabethan stage. Shakespeare knew how to entertain and involve an audience with fast-paced plots, creative imagery, and multi-faceted characters. Macbeth is an action-packed, psychological thriller that has not lost its impact in nearly four hundred years. The politically ambitious character of Macbeth is as timely today as he was to Shakespeare's audience. Mary McCarthy says in her essay about Macbeth, "It is a troubling thought that Macbeth, of all Shakespeare's characters, should seem the most 'modern,' the only one you could transpose into contemporary battle dress or a sport shirt and slacks." (Signet Classic Macbeth) Audiences today quickly become interested in the plot of a blindly ambitious general with a strong-willed wife who must try to cope with the guilt engendered by their murder of an innocent king in order to further their power. The elements of superstition, ghosts, and witchcraft, though more readily a part of everyday life for the Renaissance audience, remain intriguing to modern teenagers. The......

Words: 8499 - Pages: 34

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...Blind Leading the Blind In MacBeth, Shakespeare writes about a greedy, power-hungry man who murders the king to fulfill his selfish desires. MacBeth was one of King’s Duncan’s noblemen and honorable general. However, after he is claimed as the Thane of Cawdor and Glamis, he believes a prophecy by three witches that he will become King and, along with his wife, decides to murder King Duncan in an attempt to gain more power. Although MacBeth grew uncertain about going through with the assassination, his wife, Lady MacBeth, manipulates and deceives him to follow through. As a king, he becomes a tyrant and starts to kill anyone who he felt threatened his position on the throne, including one of his good friends, Banquo and the family of MacDuff. Throughout his reign, the MacBeth’s guilty consciences take a toll on them and eventually lead to both of their downfall. Furthermore, MacBeth’s reign does not last long when MacDuff gets revenge against the tormentor by killing him in the end. As a result, King Duncan’s son, Malcolm, becomes king. Through the use of symbolism and characterization, William Shakespeare, in MacBeth, depicts how one’s desire to gain power causes others to change gender roles to create deception within an environment. In MacBeth, MacBeth’s horrific murders proved how strongly he desired to gain power. Desire means to have a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. When a person desires something, he or she......

Words: 2516 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...both Macbeth and his wife, who try so hard to fulfill their desires. For example, Macbeth a good, loyal and honest general os overrun by his ambitious personality was so dangerous, and destructive it led to his downfall. Lady Macbeth was overly - ambitious, too. In her eagerness to kill the king she prays to the unnatural saying "come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the toe – top – full of the direst cruelty. Make thick my blood,". Ambition relates to our lives today, as like Macbeth, many people aren't happy with what they have - they only want to attain power to attain more. Both today and in the Tragedy of Macbeth, ambition overthrows morals and virtues. Both Banquo and Macbeth question fate when the witches prophesies that Macbeth will be made thane (a rank of Scottish nobility) of Cawdor and eventually King of Scotland. Macbeth is rapped with ore at this possibility. This theme definitely relates to today, as so many people try and plan their future and believe they know what they will be doing in a decade, but in many circumstances, they end up doing something very different, due to choice. Macbeth shows that once one violent act is done, it only leads to another, and this does not stop. This means, violence usually does not fix anything. In Macbeth, as soon as his ambition took over and he became a serial murderer. At first he killed duncan so that the prophecies would come true and only did it because lady macbeth......

Words: 857 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...ENGLISH ESSAY: MACBETH “Macbeth shows us a world blackened by selish desires.” In life, we are often oblivious and undermine the power of evil as we aren’t directly exposed to the dangers and destructive consequences at first. We are presented with this same idea in the tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Macbeth’s progression and transformation throughout the play demonstrates and a world blackened by selfish desires. Macbeth at the beginning of the play is shown to be a friendly, honest and loyal person. But later, manipulation and deception as well as lust and greed mould Macbeth in to an aggressive, ambitious and possessed man. Finally, through his transformations we are able to identify a world blackened by selfish desires. Macbeth at the beginning of the play is shown to be a friendly, honest and loyal character. Shakespeare demonstrates Macbeth's loyalty to his king and to Scotland as the Captain recalls, "brave Macbeth killed [Macdonald]." Macbeth is well respected by his peers and maintains good relationships with them and is willing and committed to acting to protect Scotland. Furthermore, we are introduced to Macbeth by Malcom in act one scene two as a “good and hardy soldier” further highlighting his brave and courageous nature. On a different level, Macbeth shows he is a loving and respectful character in his attitude and approach towards his wife as he calls her his “dearest partner of greatness.” Additionally, we are able to measure the strength of......

Words: 742 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...Shakespeare's dark tragedy, 'Macbeth' was written in 1605 under the reign of the superstitious James I but set in the eleventh century. Macbeth is a colossus and ambitious Scottish warrior and the first impressions we get of Macbeth is that he is 'valiant' and 'noble', a captain says of him "brave Macbeth - well he deserves that name" this suggests many people had great respect for him especially his army. Polanski, a film director that has created a modern adaptation portrays Macbeth at the outset to be a 'brave' 'warlord' as he shows the gory battle scene in which Macbeth "unseam'd him from the nave to th'chaps" which is what a captain says of him. Macbeth's bravery is perceived using animal imagery, "as sparrows, eagles, or the hare, the lion" at the start of the play as he has won victory for Scotland. King Duncan, the king of Scotland, rewards Macbeth for his courage by giving him the title 'Thane of Cawdor’; but what is ironic about this is that the title first belonged to one who was "a most disloyal traitor". However even though Macbeth is perceived that way that is later changed as he is a noble hero who's fatal flaw - his vaulting ambition - brings about his downfall. -LAST PARAGRAPH OF THE INTO NEEDS TO BE COPIED IN- * FIRST BANQUET SCENE NEEDS TO BE COPIED IN – Act 2, Scene 2 – Polanski begins this scene with dog’s barking whilst howls hoot throughout to set the tone and has Lady Macbeth’s face half in light, half in dark representing her dual......

Words: 901 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Macbeth

...Jekyll and Mr Hyde and William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, I will explore the struggles the main characters’ have within themselves in their fight for good over evil. How Macbeth and Dr Jekyll change throughout the stories and explore the similarities of each of them and why they came to change. These two books are worlds apart from one another. ‘Macbeth’ is about a great warrior who fights for the King and is set in medieval Scotland, while ‘The strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ is set in the upper classes of Victorian England where everything is done correctly and bad behaviour or wild ways are not tolerated. Dr Jekyll is a Physician who is curious about separating the good side of a personality with the bad and begins to experiment and invent potions to control the evil side of a person. However, both of these books have mystical themes about them, the witches in ‘Macbeth’ that can see the future and plant the seed of success in Macbeth’s head and the strange disappearances of Dr Jekyll and the sudden mystical appearance of a Mr Hyde. These main characters, Macbeth and Dr Jekyll evolve from being heroic, well-respected men into twisted, ruthless killers and their nature completely changes throughout their lives. Both characters become so obsessed with ultimate control they are prepared to remove anyone who gets in their way or tries to stop them from reaching their final goal. The obsession of their ambitions make both, Macbeth and Dr Jekyll eventually turn their......

Words: 1523 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, is not a play of fate; but instead, it is a tragedy that is a result from the freewill and unruly greed of Macbeth. The witches only make suggestions about Macbeth becoming king in the future; they do not cast spells or have control over Macbeth, which will secure that their predictions come true. However, it is Macbeth’s thoughts that occur after his encounter with the witches that lead him to kill King Duncan and secure his title, which leads to a number of consequences. It is free will, not fate that leads to Macbeth’s madness and destruction. Therefore, through observations of the text, Macbeth is clearly illustrated as a villain who exercises his free will which leads to his own downfall, the witches are not at fault at all. Macbeth’s freewill is portrayed through his actions before and after the murder of King Duncan. There is no proof to show that the weird sisters are valid sources or that they are women that can see the future. The witches simply tell Macbeth and Banquo news that has already been revealed to the public, which any individual with access to the news of Scottish politics or who are associated with the royals. This news convinces Macbeth that the witches might have the ability to predict his future. Although he is a little hesitant to put his complete trust in the minds of the witches, the scene where he meets with them is enough to give Macbeth the feeling that he must do whatever it takes in order to make him King.......

Words: 1101 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...hero can lead his life into a downfall. A tragic hero must experience both a tragic and heroic life. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the titular of the play is a great example of a tragic hero. Firstly, Macbeth is already of high status from the beginning of the play, and is brave in battle to win the war for Scotland; surely this makes him a hero. Next Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his, that is a desire for power and to be king. These flaws play an important role in the outcome of his life. Finally Macbeth’s obsession with the prophecies, and the murders he commits mainly leads to his downfall or periopetria. Although, a hero usually lives a triumphant life their personality can lead to their downfall and death. Too start off with Macbeth’s bravery and courage won the day for Scotland in defeating Norway and Macdonowald. First, brave and loyal Macbeth storms through the battle with Banquo defeating Sweno, in an insane fight for which his, “brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution.” Macbeth fought so courageously that the battle “ memorized another Golgotha.” In this case Macbeth is definitely a hero. Second, in the beginning of Act 1 scene 2 Duncan is in Awe of how valiant and noble of a soldier Macbeth is. “ O valiant cousin! Worthy gentlemen.” Even though Macbeth is Duncan’s cousin he is till filed with absolute joy about Macbeths accomplishment. Third, the king promotes Macbeth to thane of Cawdor. “ And with this former title greet Macbeth.” As Duncan takes this title......

Words: 816 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...The story Macbeth is like no other in plot and poetry. It sets itself apart from the rest by having a protagonist becoming evil. What makes Macbeth such a complicated character is the way his outlook keeps on changing throughout the play. This essay will prove that Macbeth is an evil man and was not overpowered by ambition to get what he wanted. This essay will also determine that certain characters like the witches did not force him to do evil; they simply triggered it. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is shown as a hero in the Scottish army that is ironic because Macbeth has defeated a traitor and he will become one. We feel that a person of his loyalty could never commit evil unless he had a good reason or if he would be provoked. After Macbeth's first meeting with the witches, we learn from his aside that he has thought about killing Duncan " My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical" 1(Macbeth 1.3.152). Macbeth also says " If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir." 2(Macbeth 1.4.157-159) which means that maybe he does not have to murder the king to gain that title. Luck has been very generous to him and might continue and make him king. Macbeth's true evil thoughts about being king are first shown when he finds out that king Duncan has named his son Malcolm as Prince of Cumberland. He now shows his evil and his true feelings. " Stars, hide your fires; Let not night see my black and deep desires. ......

Words: 955 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Macbeth

...Macbeth Literature Essay During the play Macbeth was influenced by numerous characters namely; the three witches and Lady Macbeth. He was a victim of manipulation and trickery to a certain extent by them but his ambition and paranoia also played a big role and contributed as well to his downfall. The witches provoked evil images in Macbeth’s head as the prophecies were very tempting to Macbeth but, because his better judgment overcame his evil thoughts he decided not do anything about it and pushed the evil thoughts out of his head. Once the second prophecy came true he immediately started thinking about the third prophecy which excited him and made him fearful of the evil thoughts in his head. “I am thane of Cawdor: If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs, against the use of nature? Present fears are less than horrible imaginings: my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man that function is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is but what is not.” Once again his conscience overcame his evil thoughts and he made a wise decision on what he must do. “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir”. Although, he was still very intrigued by the witches now that both predictions came true and him becoming King was straight after the second prediction. As soon as Malcom was announced the Prince of Cumberland he immediately forgets......

Words: 1364 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. There are many factors which contribute to the degeneration of Macbeth of which three will be discussed. The three points which contribute greatly to Macbeth's degeneration are the prophecy which was told to him by the witches, how Lady Macbeth influenced and manipulated Macbeth's judgment, and finally Macbeth's long time ambition which drove his desire to be king. Macbeth's growing character degenerates from a noble man to violent individual. The prophecies which were told by the witches were one of the factors which contributed to the degeneration of his character. If it had not been for the witches telling him that he was to be Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis, and King of Scotland, Macbeth would still be his ordinary self. As a result of the prophecies, this aroused Macbeth's curiosity of how he could be King of Scotland. As the play progresses, Macbeth slowly relies on the witches prophecies. Shakespeare uses the witches as a remedy for Macbeth's curiosity which corrupts his character. The influence of Macbeth's wife, Lady Macbeth also contributed to his degeneration of character. Lady Macbeth's character in the beginning reveals that she is a lovable person. When Lady Macbeth was ready to kill King Duncan herself, it showed that Lady Macbeth could not murder King Duncan because he reminded her of her father. This proves that Lady Macbeth has a heart deep inside her. Lady Macbeth plays an......

Words: 481 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Macbeth

...Causes of Macbeth's Downfall Essay Macbeth was a noble and loyal man, who would never harm his King. If it wasn't for the influences of the people surrounding him, he would have lived happily as Thane of Cawdor, an honourable title in itself. The downfall of Macbeth was ignited by the actions by those around him, mainly the witches and his wife Lady Macbeth, and eventually, his ambitions took over. Macbeth never had the intention of killing his king, but was ultimately persuaded that it was the correct thing to do. The three witches planted the seed of ambition within Maceth. They were the driving force behind Banquo and King Duncan's killing. The witches prophesised that his life would completely change, by becoming thane of Cawdor, then king of Scotland. At first, Macbeth dismissed their prophecies, but after he was promoted to Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth wondered if he will be King, too. "If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me without my stir." Another prophecy made by the witches was that Banquo's son will be king. Fuelled by paranoia, lack of sleep and visions, Macbeth was thrown into a state of confusion and a belief that the prophecies were inevitable. Lady Macbeth urged her husband to commit murder and it was this action that sparked Macbeth's downfall. When Lady Macbeth heard about the prophecies made by the witches, and how one of them had already come true, she called upon evil spirits to guide her through her task - killing the king. .".. Fill......

Words: 627 - Pages: 3