Downfal Of Macbeth

  • Category: English
  • Words: 1149
  • Grade: 95
We see in the play Macbeth that when the motivation to succeed in life becomes overpowering, other people may easily influence a person and they may decide on wrongful actions to achieve a goal. Some of the influences on Macbeth include the witches and the apparitions, Lady Macbeth, and lastly Macbeth's own insecurities and misguided attempts to control his future.

        The witches and their prophecies are the first major influence on Macbeth's actions. Macbeth is easily tempted by the corrupt force of the three witches who wish him harm. The fact that Macbeth can be easily tempted also contributes to his demise. He displays this characteristic on three different occasions throughout the play. Initially, Macbeth is tempted by the three witches who tell him that he will become the thane of Cawdor and eventually the king of Scotland. They say, "All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Glamis! / All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! / All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter" (I, iii, 48-50). Soon after the witches tell him this, he meets up with Ross and Angus, who fulfill the first prophecy by telling Macbeth that the King has decided to name him thane of Cawdor. Macbeth also learns that Malcolm, Duncan's son, is to be heir to the throne. Now, because of the rotten seed that the witches have planted into Macbeth's head he does whatever it takes to nurture it to become King, including committing murder. The second appearance of this characteristic occurs when Macbeth returns home to his castle on the day that King Duncan is to visit. Lady Macbeth wants her husband to become king just as badly as he does. She knows that her husband has thought of murdering Duncan. When Macbeth tells her that he is having second thoughts, and will not commit the crime Lady Macbeth easily persuades him to commit the murder. She tells him to, " "¦"¦ look like the innocent flower, / But be the serpent under't" (I, v, 65-66). Lady Macbeth is successful in her attempt at influencing Macbeth into doing something he first feels is wrong but later seems to get the hang of. The third incident where Macbeth shows that he can be easily enticed occurs when he meets the three witches for the second time. This time they say, ""¦"¦ Macbeth! Beware Macduff, / Beware the thane of Fife" (IV, i, 71-72). Macbeth is concerned and sends his hired murderers to kill again, this time to kill Macduff's wife and child. If Macbeth had not had them murdered, Macduff would not have been so easily provoked and eager to kill Macbeth. These three examples clearly show how Macbeth's weakness of being tempted resulted in murders and consequently the gathering of an army of men who would later raid Macbeth's castle and kill him.

        Lady Macbeth is a second major influence on Macbeth. As soon as Lady Macbeth learns of the witches' words from Macbeth's letter, we learn Macbeth is considered kind and without cruelty. She intends to influence him to kill Duncan. She says, "Hie thee hither, / That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, / And chastise with the valour of my tongue / All that impedes thee from the golden round, / Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem / To have thee crown'd withal." (I, v. 24-29). When Macbeth decides not to continue with their plan to murder Duncan, his wife urges him to act on his desires or he will think of himself as a coward. She says, "Art thou afeard / To be the same in thine own act and valour / As thou art in desire?" (I, vii. 42-44). She then makes sure he will perform the deed by taking an active role in preparing for the murder. "his two chamberlains / Will I with wine and wassel so convince," (I, vii. 70-71) and cleaning up afterwards, "Give me the daggers: the sleeping, and the dead / Are but as pictures; 'tis the eye of childhood / That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, / I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, / For it must seem their guilt." (II, ii. 69-73).

        The third and final influence on Macbeth was Macbeth himself. After he is named king, Macbeth's misery and eventual downfall is caused by his own insecurities and misguided determination to take control of his future. Firstly, the witches' prophecy concerning Banquo's descendants and Macbeth's feeling of inferiority to Banquo lead Macbeth to arrange for the murder of Banquo and his son, Fleance. Having Banquo around him is a constant reminder to Macbeth of the evil deed he himself has committed and the knowledge that Banquo's, not Macbeth's children, will be kings. "He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour / To act in safety. There is none but he / Whose being I do fear; and under him / My genius is rebuked, as it is said / Mark Antony's was by Caesar." (III, i. 57-61) and "Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown, / And put a barren sceptre in my gripe, / Thence to be wrench'd with an unlineal hand, / No son of mine succeeding." (III, i. 65-68). Also, Macbeth's insecurity about his support leads him to suspect Macduff. When he learns Macduff has fled to England before he could have him killed Macbeth takes immediate revenge by having Macduff's family murdered. He says, "from this moment, / The very firstlings of my heart shall be / The firstlings of my hand." (IV, i. 160-162). He is determined from that moment on to take control by acting immediately rather than talking and thinking. His insecurities cause him to see the positive side of immediate action. He is unable to appreciate the negative side of rash actions. Certainly, killing Macduff's family contributed to Macbeth's downfall as the act inspired hatred and revenge. Finally, Macbeth is made miserable by the deterioration of Lady Macbeth. He begs the doctor to "find her disease / And purge it to a sound and pristine health, / I would applaud thee to the very echo, / That should applaud again." (V, iii. 59-62). Surely her condition would have been made worse by Macbeth's insecurities and regrets on top of his additional crimes of murder.

        In this play, the witches awaken Macbeth's ambition and Lady Macbeth encourages the crime necessary for his ambition to be realized. Both these influences help lead to Macbeth's eventual failure and death. His insecurities lead Macbeth to rash actions to get rid of his perceived enemies, actions that he later often regrets. Therefore, he is led to murder Banquo and Macduff's family and others all the while relying on the apparitions' prophecies that he will be safe. Only in the end does he realize he has been misled and betrayed.
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