Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is a play portraying a misfortune of a tragic hero. Macbeth is a noble warrior and a hero who fights bravely for his beloved King Duncan. On his journey back to the King, he comes across three weird sisters who tell him his destiny of becoming King. The once loyal hero who only thought of serving the crown becomes a traitor planning the murder of his King. A seed is planted which could either sprout a beautiful flower or a wild plant. For Macbeth, the seed sprouts a wild plant. His wife, Lady Macbeth, comes up with the plan that helps Macbeth become a King. After acquiring the crown, his murderous self starts killing anyone standing in his way. He becomes hated and starts procuring a tremendous amount of enemies within his own kingdom. When war arises, most of his army sides with the opposing country and Macbeth is defeated mercilessly. Even though the weird sisters, Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth contribute to his downfall, overall, Macbeth is mostly responsible for his own downfall.
The weird sisters start an avalanche by kicking a small pebble down the hill. They do not play a big part in Macbeth’s downfall, however, they undeniably influence Macbeth’s ambition. They intrigue Macbeth’s fantasies by prophesying that “[he] shalt be King hereafter” (I.III, 53). The weird sisters’ power to see the future becomes validated when one of the prophecies comes true. Consequently, Macbeth feels an intense yearning for the jeweled crown. Nevertheless, this yearning cannot be placed on the weird sisters’ accountability. Never do they tell Macbeth what to do or what must be done. Macbeth assumes that he must kill the king in order to become the king. He is not a child that would be threatened by divinations and commit such a sinister sin that would eventually lead him to his downfall. The weird sisters do not have any reason to make Macbeth suffer, Macbeth makes himself suffer. They come as messengers, not as compellers. The weird sisters are partially inculpable in Macbeth’s downfall, similar to Lady Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth’s ambition to see Macbeth as a King is aroused the moment she finds out about the prophecies. She “fill[s] [herself] from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty” (I.V, 49-50), making herself purposeful. She prepares herself to be resistant to any challenges that she might face during the transgression. When Macbeth’s courage fails, she steps up and demands that he either go through with the plan or “live a coward in [his] own esteem’st, letting ‘[he] dare not’ wait upon ‘[he] would’” (I.VII, 45-49). She questions his manhood which easily convinces Macbeth to kill Duncan and show how courageous he can be. Lady Macbeth is not completely innocent of the deed itself for her “hands are of [Macbeth’s] color” (II.II, 82). She partakes in Duncan’s murder when she adds a sleeping doze in the servants’ drinks. After the immoral exploit is done, she smears blood on the guards’ faces, making a fake display of their guilt. Lady Macbeth is associated with Duncan’s murder though she is not responsible for Macbeth’s downfall.
Lady Macbeth believes that she can withstand the remorse and emotional guilt of committing a murder, yet she is mistaken. Even though she deems she can harness enough courage to complete a dark deed such as murder, in the end, she does not do it. She would have killed Duncan herself “had he not resembled [her] father” (II.II, 16-17). She appears to be firm and evil, although, in reality, she is soft and filled with a woman’s sentiment. After the slaying of Duncan, Macbeth still remains unsatisfied. When his constant dread of Banquo fathering the line of Kings compels him to plan an assassination of Banquo and Fleance, Lady Macbeth attempts to stop him. She tries to make him understand that “[he] must leave this” (III.II, 40) for she does not want to see anyone else die. Once Macbeth realizes that she might not side with him anymore and might try to hold him back, he avoids getting her involved in his plans. Thereafter, when Lady Macbeth inquires about his plans for Macduff, he keeps her blind and “innocent of the knowledge” (III.II, 51). Therefore, Lady Macbeth is solely involved in Duncan’s murder and none of the other sins committed by Macbeth. She strives to prevent Macbeth from killing anyone else but she could not do much since she is kept ignorant of Macbeth’s schemes. Hence, Lady Macbeth is not responsible for Macbeth’s downfall as much as Macbeth himself is.
Macbeth is bound to his own fate and downfall more than anyone else. The choices and decisions that Macbeth makes ultimately causes his downfall. The moment he learns about being a King, he becomes liminal. He imagines Duncan’s death without anyone’s influence which makes it unlikely for anyone to compel him into killing Duncan. After the profane endeavor was accomplished, Macbeth remains discontented for “upon [his] head [is] placed a fruitless crown” (III.I, 66). A thorn still remains and he intends to pluck it, hence he orders the assassination of Banquo and Fleance. He then learns about Macduff’s treachery and orders the death of his family and anyone who is loyal to him. He plans Banquo’s and Macduff’s assassination with a clear and unswayed head. His hesitation to kill all but disappears as he becomes more and more adept at killing. His order to kill Macduff’s family is “the very firstlings of [his] heart [therefore, becoming] the firstlings of [his] hand” (IV.I, 167-168). His callousness makes him indifferent to a woman’s scream which shows how greatly he changes. This change in personality, which is not influenced by anyone but himself, makes him vulnerable to disloyalty and treachery.
While Macbeth’s choices cause his downfall, he tries to stop himself from going down the dark path. When he tries to avoid killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth promotes him to prove that he is not a coward. Macbeth proves his courage to Lady Macbeth by murdering Duncan in his sleep. Although Macbeth kills Duncan because he is prompted by Lady Macbeth, it is ultimately his choice to either follow Lady Macbeth’s advice and go down a sinful path or live a noble and sincere life. He chooses to do the immoral act and the events start to fall in place like dominoes until the very last domino falls, symbolizing his death. Even when he believes that fate can take its course and make him king without interference on his part, he nevertheless takes the matter in his own hands. It does matter that he hesitates to kill Duncan or that he is incited to make the prophecy come true for, in the end, he is the one who makes the decision that shapes his fate.
Macbeth’s downfall is caused by himself, however, Lady Macbeth and the weird sisters also play a role. The weird sisters play a very trivial part in his downfall when they tell Macbeth the future, nevertheless, they never tell him what to do to make the prophecy come true. Lady Macbeth plays an influential role in pushing Macbeth to commit the sins, however, in the end, she does not want Macbeth to do any more transgressions. She helps him only with killing Duncan to get the crown. Once that is accomplished, she never supports Macbeth in anyone else’s murder, rather, she tries to stop him but to no avail. After killing Duncan, Macbeth goes on a killing spree and eliminates anyone who stands in his way of keeping the crown. Lady Macduff, her son, and Banquo are some of the victims that fall at the hands of Macbeth. Macbeth hesitates in the beginning to kill Duncan but after the first sins were committed, he becomes formidable. He does not regret anything he does for he becomes cold-hearted. Everyone has a role in Macbeth’s downfall, but in the end, it all comes down to his decisions. His decision to believe the prophecy, his decision to kill Duncan, his decision to kill anyone who is a threat to him pushes him to the very edge of the cliff where he cannot go anywhere but fall in the dark abyss.
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