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

...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

...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

...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

Free Essay

Macbeths Actions Led to His Own Demise

...The downfall of a central character is common in a Shakespearean tragedy. Examine how  Macbeth’s actions led to his own downfall.   ......

Words: 938 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Macbeth Essay

...To what extent is Macbeth responsible for his own downfall? Macbeth is a universal text and is one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies, when we talk about Macbeth’s downfall it is both the downfall of the single state of man and the downfall of his wider social relations, these being Lady Macbeth, Duncan, Banquo, Macduff’s family and ultimately Scotland. Aristotle says that ‘tragedy is the imitation of an action’ he is talking about an action or a motive that governs the protagonist’s life. A tragedy is commonly known as a story or play that ends with a negative or unfortunate outcome that was essentially unavoidable, usually caused by a flaw in the central character’s personality. Although it is established that Macbeth is a tragedy, there are differences in audience response to tragedy. The audience of Elizabethan times saw tragedy as the destruction of the Great Chain of Being and the danger to the order and stability of the state. The Great Chain of being is conception of the hierachical order of the universe; Elizabethan audiences believed that a bond linked all things in the universe. They saw Macbeth as a tragedy because the rightful ruler of Scotland was killed which lead to Scotland being lead by an evil King. Contemporary audiences see Macbeth as a tragedy because of the psychological destruction of a man, and the crises caused by this man. Macbeth shows the journey of a tragic hero, Macbeth has the traits of a tragic hero as defined by Aristotle: nobility,......

Words: 2142 - Pages: 9

Premium Essay

Similarities Between Tragic Heroes

...though the date differs. Tragic heroes resemble each other in characteristics to lead to downfall of the hero. There are two main similarities between tragic heroes of the plays, Macbeth and Oedipus the King. In these plays, to stage a downfall of the heroes, the heroes are equipped with blindness and flaws. As to other similarities between the heroes of these two plays, Oedipus and Macbeth are both approached by a kind of seer and told of the things to pass. They both committed regicide and they both gained the throne by committing this crime even though the motive differs. ​Blindness, in other words the hero’s inability to understand his foreknown fate, is one of the main similarities between the two tragic heroes, Oedipus and Macbeth. In the case of Oedipus, blindness first shows itself in the case of regicide. In the plot, after Oedipus is told by a seer that he was going to kill his father, he tries to avoid his fate by running away but when he is confronted by a difficult situation he chooses to kill. This proves that he kills even though he knew he was going to kill his father. He is blinded to his fate although it is revealed to him. On the other hand, Macbeth’s blindness shows itself in the case of Macduff. Macbeth is foretold that he needs to beware of Macduff, he is incapable of being harmed by any man born of woman, and he will be safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Castle. Macbeth, even though, knows all these prophecies kills Macduff’s family because of......

Words: 630 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Macbeth Essay

...Weston Balskus Macbeth Thesis Paper 1-2-13 British Lit The Witches in ‘Macbeth’ “Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble” (Act 4 Scene 1). These famous words, said by the three witches, come from one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies- ‘Macbeth’ Completed in 1606, this play is set in Scotland, and dramatizes the corroding psychological and political effects produced when its protagonist, the Scottish lord Macbeth, chooses evil as the way to fulfill his ambition for power. Shakespeare wrote this play when attitudes were completely different to the attitudes of society today, in particular, widespread belief in witchcraft. In the play of 'Macbeth' the witches have an important effect on Macbeth, the characters, the plot, the theme and the audience. They help construct the play and without them it would have been a totally different story line. The three witches effect characters’ lives, orientate the plot, they are related to most of the themes or motifs and appeal the audience's attention. The witches, or three sisters, have a strong effect on the characters of the play- especially Macbeth. When Macbeth meets the witches for the first time, they greet him as the Thane of Cawdor. Macbeth is Thane of Glamis and does not know about Cawdor, he hasn’t heard that the Thane of Cawdor has died. “I know I am Thane of Glamis, But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives” (Act 1 Scene 3). When Macbeth learns that the thane of Cawdor has in fact......

Words: 1369 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Ambitous Macbeth

...Ambition is the motivating force towards many people’s success; too much ambition can result in chaos. Ambition drove Macbeth to be a great warrior. However, once a malicious thought was planted in his mind, his potential to do great things turned into evil deeds. Macbeth’s ambition caused his downfall. Macbeth was on the road to greatness, he had everything a man could want. Macbeth’s successes in battle lead to admiration by many important and powerful people, such as the king. King Duncan boasts about Macbeth stating, “ O valiant cousin! Worthy gentleman! “(I.ii.24). Ironically Macbeth later on kills his king. Macbeth had titles and power, the King was by his side promoting him to be triumphant. “I have begun to plant thee, and will labour to make thee full of growing.” (I.iv.29) This is King Duncan’s promise to Macbeth to help him to succeed. Macbeth has the full support of the King to follow his bright and ambitious future. To this point in the play, Macbeth’s ambition is positive and he shows a lot of potential to do great things in the future. Later in the play, Macbeth had a turning point from positive ambition to destructive, negative ambition. The witches planted the ambitious seed in Macbeth’s mind that someday he would become king and Lady Macbeth fuelled this aspiration with encouragement; however, the thoughts of murder came from Macbeth himself. It took very little for the notion of murder to be considered. “For mine own good All causes shall give way. I am......

Words: 680 - Pages: 3

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

King Lear (to Be Finished)

...In the light of your critical readings how far areLear and Macbeth tragic protagonists? Example intro Normally, the common hero would be a character embodying megalopsychia. However, both Lear and Macbeth are conventionally tragic figures, even displaying anti-heroic qualities. Aristotle’s “Poetics” suggests that a tragic protagonist has greatness which is readily evident in the play. The Victorian critic A.C. Bradley picks up Aristotle’s notion to contend and mentions that although the protagonist is a person of greatness, they are not perfect and contain a tragic flaw which can lead to his downfall. Unlike most tragic protagonists, Lear’s fall occurs early in the play when he decides to express his “darker purpose” to Gloucester by dividing the kingdom between his three daughters. Firstly, this rash decision implies Lear’s downfall and prepares the audience for what is to come. Secondly, this would have alarmed a Jacobean audience who would remember how the question of succession had loomed large during the reign of Elizabeth 1. However, Lear does not show many noble attributes before his fall when he loses his temper at Cordelia and he tells her he will, “disclaim all my paternal care,” because she refuses to flatter him with praises and love. This is different to Macbeth who is seen as “brave” and “noble” in the early stages of the play due to killing the rebel, Macdonwald, and fighting off an attack from the Norwegians. Example 2 1. Throughout literary history,......

Words: 2304 - Pages: 10

Free Essay

Macbath - Power and Passion

...Power and Passion – Macbeth In Macbeth by William Shakespeare, two concepts, power and passion are conveyed through the downfall of the tragic play. The characters, mainly Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, show the relationship between these two concepts. Throughout the playwright, Macbeth has an ambition to gain more power, and especially when hearing the prophecy from the three witches after the victory of his battle, he becomes passionate about possessing the throne of Scotland. This essay will also discuss a particular soliloquy acted out by Macbeth where he imagines a dagger in front of him. Macbeth’s passion to be king originates from where the three witches address Macbeth as the ‘Thane of Cawdor’, ‘Thane of Glamis’, and ‘King hereafter’ when the witches chant “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (Act 1 Scene 3, line 48). Macbeth believes in these prophecies as they are supernatural entities, and this drives Macbeth’s ambition to achieve higher status and reputation. When Lady Macbeth hears this from the messenger, she gains high ambitions for him and becomes seduced by the idea of becoming the queen. She speaks to herself “I may pour my spirits in thine ear” (Act 1 Scene 5, line 25), which means she will inspire Macbeth with her passion about an evil deed she thought of. However, she also knew Macbeth could not perform such evil deeds as she says that he is “too full o’th’ milk of human kindness” (Act 1 Scene 5, line 16), therefore she uses his weakness......

Words: 866 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Macbeth and Its Relevance to a Contemporary Audience

...Macbeth’s portrayal of the tragic downfall of a king through his ambition, greed and weakness has allowed it to resonate with contemporary audiences. Macbeth’s human flaws paint him as a tragic hero – he is not intrinsically ‘evil’, but his consuming ambition, the desire and greed he possesses and his weakness and inability to resist his wife’s and the witches’ temptations ultimately lead to his downfall. These three flaws are inseparable from our human nature, and they are indeed still relevant and relatable in our society today. Macbeth’s ambition is his one great flaw that leads to his ruin. Ambition is a quality that we all exhibit. However, Macbeth’s ambition consumes him, and overwhelms his moral sense, his noble character. Initially, he is presented to the audience as a brave soldier, “like Valour’s minion,” having defeated an entire army. He is respected and admired by all, including King Duncan, who promotes him to Thane of Cawdor. By the end of the play, however, he has become a moral-less tyrant. His ultimate fall from grace lies in his ambition, his desire to become King at any cost. His image at the end of the play, a senseless, paranoid, murderer is sharply juxtaposed with his portrayal as a valiant solider initially. It is this juxtaposition of a noble hero and a ruined tyrant that invokes ‘a catharsis of pity and fear’, as described by Aristotle, in the audience, and that still allows contemporary audiences today to relate and respond. The three weird......

Words: 1103 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Lady Macbeth

...demise. Macbeth is a tragic hero. "What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath won"(1.2.70). This shows that Macbeth becomes the new Thane of Cawdor, just like the witches had told him. As Macbeth starts to believe the prophecies of the witches that he will be the Thane of Cawdor, Glamis, and the King, he starts to want it even more. He has the ambition to do what he wants. " Stars, hide your fires;/Let not light see my black and deep desires"(1.4.50-51). This great ambition will turn into the flaw that hurtles Macbeth to his demise. Outside forces contribute to Macbeth's downfall. "Speak" "Demand" "We'll answer" (4.1.63-65). Macbeth is asking the witches for more prophecies. The tragic hero is generally a person of importance in society."He bade me, from him, call thee Thane of Cawdor"(1.3.104-105). Macbeth has been given the title "Thane of Cawdor". Macbeth's ambition also influenced his declining character. Lady Macbeth convinced him that murder is the easiest way to fulfill his ambition to become king. Macbeth agrees although he is scared that his nerve will fail."If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well/It were done quickly(1.7.1-2)". Ambition is also seen in act one. "We fail? But screw your courage to the striking place, find we'll not fail."(1.7.59-61). Lady Macbeth does not want Macbeth to fail at murdering Duncan. After these recent murders, Macbeth doesn't need to be influenced by anyone and takes matters into his own hands, making his own decisions. Macbeth has......

Words: 817 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Macbeth: the Tragic Hero

...Macbeth: The Tragic Hero By: Daniel Chekole 2012 Macbeth: The Tragic Hero By: Daniel. C "Any art worthy of its name should address 'life', 'man', 'nature', 'death' and 'tragedy'.” (Barnett Newman, BrainQuote) In a tragedy the main character rises to greatness showing characteristics above normality while repeatedly showing proof to the audience about his or her tragic flaw which later on leads to the character’s downfall. Macbeth created tragedy in the lives of his loved ones and peers as well as a monumental tragic fate onto himself during his reversion from being a decent and moral man to someone similar to a devil who had paranoia and couldn’t differentiate between good and evil. Furthermore, Macbeth became detached from the feelings and thoughts of the people around him as he became so engaged in himself as well as the three witches and their prophecies. When Shakespeare wrote this play he slowed down the process of the tragedy so that the audience would acknowledge and experience Macbeth’s success and happiness; slowing signs appeared with foreshadowing techniques leading to the climax of the play as Macbeth headed to his tragic flaw. In the process of the tragedy Macbeth starts as a brave respected warrior, then later is fooled by the witches with prophecies, and sadly becomes lifeless. In the beginning of the play as we first hear of Macbeth from a wounded captain......

Words: 1234 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Ambition: the Key to Self-Destruction

...Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, readers witness this exact situation; ambition is what leads to Macbeth’s destruction. This trait can also be referred to as his hamartia. The dangerous growth of ambition begins when the witches present to him a prophecy, continues when Lady Macbeth pushes him until, finally, he has built up enough to drive himself to destruction. To begin with, the first instance in which ambition presents a danger is when Macbeth gets encouraged by the witches’ supernatural promises. After he hears the witches declare that he will be named Thane of Cawdor and “shalt be king hereafter” (I. iii. 48), a spark is lit and his darker side comes out. This is especially noticed when he says, “my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single slate of man that function / Is smother’d insurmise, and nothing is / But what is not.” (I. iii. 138-141). It is visible at this time that ambition is just beginning to drive him in the wrong direction and away from moral consciousness. This battle of conscious vs excessive ambition is central to the story. It is referred to by Lady Macbeth, upon welcoming Macbeth home after hearing of his title as Thane of Cawdor, when she states, “Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without / The illness should attend it”. (I. v. 17-19) Here, she is afraid that Macbeth is ‘too kind’ and does not have enough ambition to become King. We later find out she is wrong. Later on, Lady Macbeth......

Words: 911 - Pages: 4