Macbeth’s Achilles Heel: Gullibility

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Oscar Wilde, a famous British play writer, once said, “There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.” This is exemplified in Shakespeare’s Macbeth when Macbeth experiences both of these types of tragedy throughout the play. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, a tragedy is a “branch of drama that treats in a serious and dignified style the sorrowful or terrible events encountered or caused by a heroic individual.” In Macbeth, the protagonist exemplifies how one main character’s decision can lead to his or her downfall. Throughout the play, Macbeth’s tragic flaw is his gullibility. Macbeth cannot overcome this attribute and ultimately this characteristic leads to his downfall. Macbeth shows his gullibility during his encounter with the three witches, who provide the dynamism that has made Macbeth one of Shakespeare’s most popular and intense plays. During Macbeth’s first meeting with the “weird sisters”, he is easily persuaded into believing their prophecies. Macbeth’s gullibility allows him to be convinced by their prophecy, which ultimately leads to his downfall. The line “nothing is but what is not” is ambiguous (Shakespeare, Macbeth, I. iii. 155). This expression, said by Macbeth, indicates confusion between his reality and his ideal world. This interpretation opens Macbeth to dangerous and unjustifiable deeds. If Macbeth makes himself believe that "nothing is, but what is not," then Macbeth's respect for order, for hierarchy, for the King, is also nullified. Another event that shows Macbeth’s tragic flaw of gullibility is when Banquo says, “The instruments of darkness tell us truths,/ Win us with honest trifles, to betray ’s/ In deepest consequence” (Shakespeare, Macbe... ... middle of paper ... ...d Macbeth. Through their ambiguous predictions, they are able to build up Macbeth's confidence to the point where he believes he is the deserving king. He is certain that every man is born from a woman, and therefore no man can hurt him. After the last prophecy was fulfilled, Macduff was able to kill Macbeth. Macbeth’s belief in the witches and apparitions once more shows his tragic flaw of gullibility and proves to be Macbeth’s final undoing. The witches, Lady Macbeth and the apparitions exploited Macbeth. He was easily persuaded and deceived by all three. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth was a noble man. As a result of his tragic flaw of gullibility, his potential heroism was overshadowed by his ignoble behavior. In conclusion, Shakespeare’s Macbeth portrays how factors both external and internal can affect vital decisions that lead to a person’s downfall.

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