“Macbeth” is by William Shakespeare is a play in which a character falls from power. It tells the story of a Scottish thane heard a weird prophecy by The Witches, following, he murdered King Duncan to be King. At the end of the play, he was beheaded by Macduff, who replaced him as King. Several characters in the text, play a part in the protagonist’s downfall.
In the opening of the play, The Witched spoke in planned contradicting riddles, which could make parts of the audiences feel that they are responsible for Macbeth’s downfall. For example, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” was said by The Witches in union. The fact that the conversations of The Witches’ conversations seem so planned, that if it was actually designed, it makes parts of the audiences feel that Macbeth’s downfall is also likely to be part of their design.
The prophesies that The Witches gave to Macbeth and Banquo in Act 1 Scene 3, they said “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!”. Shakespeare had The Witch tell Macbeth three prophesies; the first one Macbeth already knew, representing his past; the second one happed just moments before in the play, representing Macbeth’s present; the last prophecy is yet come true, which is representing his future. To the audiences, this thoughtful design could again emphasise The Witches’ mysterious supernatural powers.
However, the different reactions from Macbeth and Banquo to The Witches prophesies are completely different must prove that hearing The Witches’ prophesies is not linked to their downfall. Macbeth seems somewhat pleased by the prophesies given, and is drawn towards it. Then on the other hand, Banquo clearly did not take the prophesies very seriously at all, or are resisting the temptation. It was clear that Macbeth demanded further, when he said, “Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.”. This shows that Macbeth was really interested and is thirsty for more The Witches’ prophesies. Shakespeare did this so the audiences would see the contraction between Macbeth and Banquo’s personality, and to Macbeth’s tragic flaw of ambition. Which would add up to his downfall.
Nevertheless, Lady Macbeth’s influence on Macbeth most definitely did a part in Macbeth’s downfall. In Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth’s soliloquy, he used euphemisms for words like ‘murder’ and ‘kill’. For example, “The deep damnation of his taking-off;”, ‘taking-off” is just a replacement for ‘death’. But after Lady Macbeth had her conversation with Macbeth, he said “I am settled, and bend up, Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Shakespeare did this to show that Lady Macbeth no doubt has a massive impact on Macbeth’s early decisions in the play, caused his downfall later in the play.
Adding to this, Lady Macbeth is also a dangerous and manipulative person, manipulating Macbeth towards his downfall. During their conversation, Lady Macbeth used persuasion techniques such as flattery, questioning manhood, stating her own determination. For example, when she said, “Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums; And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you; Have done to this.”, she was obviously stating her own determination to Macbeth. Shakespeare did this to show the audiences how Lady Macbeth is having control over Macbeth, resulting Macbeth’s downfall.
Until Act 3 Scene 2, some audiences may feel that Lady Macbeth is influencing Macbeth on doing many sinful deeds. However, when Macbeth said, “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck,” to Lady Macbeth, parts of the audiences may think otherwise. It was clear that Lady Macbeth had completely lost control over Macbeth, and Macbeth does not show any signs of being forced. Shakespeare did this to show that Macbeth was no longer following Lady Macbeth’s plans, and is even blocking her out of his own. This also shows that Lady Macbeth might have influenced Macbeth to Murder King Duncan, but then Macbeth led himself to his very own downfall.
Macbeth’s tragic flaw, ambition, surely did a part in causing his downfall. In Act 1 Scene 4, Macbeth’s aside, he said, “Stars, hide your fires; Let not light see my black and deep desires.” In this, his “black and deep desires” is just another euphemism for ambition. Shakespeare made Macbeth describe his ambition as “black and deep” to show that Macbeth is actually well aware of the dangers of his “vaulting ambition”, which means even though he knows the dangers of ambition, he continues to follow it. Besides, earlier in the play, Macbeth has also laid out the reasons why not to killing King Duncan. For example,
Following his ambition while knowing the dangers of it, which definitely drew Macbeth to his downfall.
On the other hand, parts of the audiences may argue that Macbeth was not completely aware and in charge of his own actions, in other words, insane. The obvious example would be in Act 2 Scene 1, when Macbeth said, “Is this a dagger which I see before me,” Clearly, he saw a hallucination of the dagger, which represents the worries and guilt of Macbeth. Adding to this, later in the play, there is more evidence of Macbeth’s insanity. A famous example would be the banquet scene. “Avaunt, and quit my sight! Let the earth hide thee. Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold.”, Macbeth said this to Banquo’s ghost, which only he could see. Again, this was a hallucination, showing Macbeth’s fear and guilt. To show that Macbeth is not mentally sane is unmistakeably one of the reasons Shakespeare added these parts to the play. A man that is constantly seeing things, certainly is mad. Thus, cannot be truly responsible for his actions nor their consequences, leading to his own downfall.
Even though The Weird Sisters planted the seeds of ambition inside Macbeth’s head or with Lady Macbeth manipulating Macbeth, Macbeth still made his choices. But did they not influence him to make the choices he made? it is not possible to say that only one person is responsible for the downfall of the protagonist. As in The Tragedy of Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 1, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”, nothing could be just single sided. Similarly, is the downfall of our protagonist, Macbeth, could not be blamed singly on a person or an event, hence the blame is shared.