The Tragic Downfall of Shakespeare's Macbeth
Length: 715 words (2 double-spaced pages)
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The Tragic Downfall of Macbeth
Macbeth, at the beginning of the play, seems to be a very loyal and honorable person. However, his character is changed by the influences of several factors. These factors have an influence on Macbeth, but he is responsible for his own destiny. The influences of the witches' prophecies, the influence of Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth's ambitions, are they key factors that lead to his tragic downfall.
The witches (or "weird sisters" as they are often called) are responsible for putting the idea that Macbeth would become king of Scotland in his head, but in the end, it's Macbeth's decision to fall for and make this idea happen. As a result of this idea, Macbeth's curiosity of how he could become king of Scotland comes into play. "One can wonder if Macbeth ever had a chance of doing what was right after he met with the witches." (courseworkhelp) As the play progresses, Macbeth slowly relies more on the witches prophesies. They are clearly evil and deceiving and they slowly lead to the corruption of his character. Macbeth creates his own misery when he is driven by this own sense of guilt. This causes him to become insecure as to the reasons for his actions, which cause him to commit more murders. He would never have thought seriously about killing King Duncan without the witches influence. However it's more realistic to believe that Lady Macbeth, Macbeth's ambitions, and his own responsibilities lead to his downfall, not just the witches. They really never had the power to affect the future of the play.
Lady Macbeth is shown early as an ambitious woman who can manipulate Macbeth easily. It is shown in the line "That I may pour my spirits in thine ear" (1.5.26). She manipulates his self-esteem by playing with his manliness and his bravery. When Macbeth is thinking of not following through on his plan to kill King Duncan, Lady Macbeth scorns him
when she hears of his change of plans. She becomes successful in altering his ambition and appears to be the dominating individual in the relationship. Lady Macbeth wants Macbeth to be a great and powerful man she loves him and her only ambition is to help him gain the throne.
However, Macbeth has the final say in weather or not to go through with the killings, but he loves Lady Macbeth and wants to make her happy. After Macbeth killed King Duncan, he somewhat regrets the wrong doing. After the first murder, killing seems to be the only answer to continue to cover up his wrong doings or lose everything he has worked for. Lady Macbeth is an influence on Macbeth that lets out his true side of evil. She has a strong influence on him and is a main cause for his increasing ambition. Macbeth is a tragedy of the marriage relationship. The joint guilt of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ultimately separates them, and they perish as individuals, each alone. (Craig 256)
At this point in the play, Macbeth's ambition starts to come into view. Macbeth starts seeking his future on his own and will overcome any obstacles in his way. Then he ventures even further to protect his crown by plotting to kill Banquo. This is the climax of the play as well as the height of Macbeth's ambition. He is obsessed with reigning as king, but he does not realize that what he is doing to make himself more powerful is actually leading him to a tragic and fatal downfall. Along with the crown, Macbeth inherits a ruthless, immoral character that corrupts him to his downfall. This happens because of Macbeth's ambition for the throne, and ambition to do whatever it takes to keep it. "The ambition that turned Macbeth against Duncan is very similar to resentments to those who have power over us, those who have things that we want and those who we want to become." (Watson 85)
The witches' prophecies influence, Lady Macbeth's influences, and Macbeth's great ambition, all had a major role in the tragic downfall of Macbeth, which is his death. Macbeth chose to gamble with his life but in the end it was really his decision to lose it.