Last Updated 17 Aug 2022

To What Extent Is Macbeth Responsible for His Own Downfall

Category Macbeth
Words 588 (3 pages)
Views 1582

In Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth, he depicts the rise and downfall of the eponymous protagonist, Macbeth. The text illustrates that there is no sole person to blame for Macbeth’s downfall but numerous reasons for Macbeth’s downfall. Macbeth is only partially responsible for his own downfall for his eventual downfall at the hands of Macduff. Macbeth is driven by the prophecies given by the witches and this is perpetuated with the manipulation of Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s own ‘vaulting ambitions’.

All of these are factors which lead to Macbeth committing murders in order to become King and his ultimate downfall. The main cause of Macbeth’s fall from grace is due to the three witches and the prophecies which they give to Macbeth at the start of the text. The Thane of Glamis is content with his position until the witches prophesise …“Hail to the, Thane of Glamis… Thane of Cawdor… That shalt be king hereafter! ” After the previous Thane of Cawdor’s execution, Macbeth is appointed the new Thane of Cawdor and as the prophecy is partially fulfilled, he contemplates how the rest of the prophecy will play out.

Due to his ambitious personality and a prophesised kingship, he murders King Duncan and Banquo in order to become King faster. This eventually causes his downfall at the hands of Macduff in the final scenes of the play. The witches are responsible for his downfall as it is their prophecies which instigate Macbeth’s killing spree to become King and his downfall because of the murders he committed. Lady Macbeth is also to blame for Macbeth’s downfall. Lady Macbeth is obsessed with becoming royalty, even more than Macbeth, and will do anything in order to achieve it.

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Lady Macbeth is fearful of her husband’s good nature as it is ‘full o’ the milk of human kindness. ’ And so Lady Macbeth has to challenge his manliness and goad him in order for him to follow her plan so he can become King. It is Lady Macbeths shaming which causes him to murder King Duncan and Banquo and incur the retribution of Macduff which causes his eventual downfall. Without Lady Macbeth, Macbeth would have not gone though with the plan to become King and would eventually have become King in an honest manner, and so would not have had his downfall at Macduff’s hands.

Macbeth is responsible for his own downfall as his own downfall due to his ‘vaulting ambitions’ to become King, his fear to retain his crown and his temperament. Macbeth’s ambitious desires to become king very fast results him killing King Duncan, who he was fiercely loyal to at the start of the text, becoming a traitor. With the King gone, the princes flee to England and Ireland and Macbeth ascends to the throne. Fearing the witches’ prophecy that Banquo’s sons will become king, he orders their murders but Fleance is able to get away.

Macduff’s family is killed as Macbeth wanted to watch Macduff in order to stop a potential plot to overthrow him but Macduff fled to England. Macduff angrily returns and avenges his family by killing Macbeth and causing his downfall. In Macbeth, there are many people responsible for Macbeth’s downfall including the three Weird Sisters, his wife Lady Macbeth and Macduff and Macbeth himself. It was the interaction of these people with Macbeth and Macbeth’s own mindset which caused his downfall in Dunsinane. Therefore, Macbeth is only partially responsible for his own downfall.

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