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Macbeth – The Downfall of Macbeth

Upon hearing the witches prophecies, Macbeth is set on a path of deterioration that causes him to become blinded by ambition. Lacy Macbeth aids in his downfall, as she pushes him to become so ambitious that it eventually kills him. Lady Macbeth’s icy-ness acts as the horse which takes him down the path he can’t return from. He suffers mentally, at first, by getting tormented by his power-hungry wife. Then, when she dies, it is her soul that causes Macbeth to get tormented by his own over-ambitious self. Macbeth encounters the three witches while on a journey with his companion Banquo.

They tell Macbeth of future titles he is to have, yet he doesn’t believe them. They hail Macbeth, calling him “Thane of Cawdor” and tell him he “shalt be kind hereafter”. This perplexes Macbeth because such titles seem far from the truth. At this point Macbeth does not crave the titles as he later will. After the witches tell Banquo his sons shall be kings, Macbeth becomes interested in his supposed fate because the Thane of Cawdor lives and Macbeth finds it impossible to perceive himself as Thane or Cawdor and even more impossible as king.

Banquo sees the prophecy about Macbeth becoming king coming true and then he proceeds to warn Macbeth that “often times, to win us harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence”. Banquo, too, seems to predict Macbeth’s fate. The witches tell the truth, but in the end it is betrayal that rises up over truth. Macbeth’s mind is still stable at this point, but is beginning to become somewhat shaky. When the king greets Macbeth with gratitude, all Macbeth can think about is the prediction that he will become king.

It is now that the poison of desire begins to seep into Macbeth’s mind. After the king announces that his son, Malcolm, will become king Macbeth starts to ponder murder. Macbeth can’t wait and allow the prophecy to take its course and hopefully come true- he must take action and force it to become a reality. “That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies. ” Macbeth compares Malcolm to a step that could vanquish Macbeth’s now earnest desire to become king unless Macbeth should get Malcolm out of the way. Malcolm comes in-between Macbeth and his drive to be king and so Macbeth must eradicate Malcolm.

Macbeth now has the mindset of an unstoppable conqueror whereas he must succeed in getting what he wants. Macbeth then sends a letter to Lady Macbeth that tells of the strange prophecies. The thought of murder immediately comes to her mind, indicating that she is more willing to kill to get what she wants as opposed to Macbeth who does not think of killing the king right away. Without verbally consulting with Macbeth first, she says that he will become king. Then she begins to fear his nature because “it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness”.

This shows that it is Lady Macbeth who has the stronger passion to kill the king so Macbeth can be crowned. She is determined to “pour my[her] spirits in thine[his] ear and chastise with the valor of my[her] tongue all that impedes thee[him] from the golden round”. Lady Macbeth wants the crown even more so that Macbeth does, as she will punish all that may come in Macbeth’s, and her, way. Lady Macbeth feels that she must kill Duncan when he comes over for dinner- this is even more apparent when she describes the raven’s croak as even hoarser than before.

Lady Macbeth demonstrates her full evil potential when she summons spirits to rid her of her womanly properness and “fill me[her] from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty” so that she may have the numbness and masculinity to go through with the murder herself. She doesn’t want her conscience to exist and calls the spirits to “make thick me[her] blood”. It is as if she has already died. Lady Macbeth takes control and tells Macbeth to “put this night’s great business into my[her] dispatch” and to leave the rest to her. It is Lady Macbeth who dominates Macbeth.

Macbeth doesn’t object to her plan of murder either. His better nature fights against his desires and he tells Lady Macbeth that he is the king’s kinsman, subject and host. This makes it evident that Lady Macbeth pushes Macbeth into doing what he knows is wrong. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, has lost all compassion at this point and the seed of her fierce masculinity has been deeply planted. Lady Macbeth’s evilness finally takes her over and forces her to commit suicide. Macbeth is now forced to carry out the rest of the plan alone.

Banquo knows of Macbeth and his quest for power. He is the one that tells Macbeth that the instruments of darkness only cause harm and betrayal. Macbeth makes this statement true by betraying Banquo whom he once trusted. Banquo suspected Macbeth’s guilt and out of fear of being caught Macbeth sends out two murderers to kill Banquo. Macbeth is guilty of betrayal, but he doesn’t commit the act himself which shows how weak he really is. After Macbeth has Banquo killed, he hallucinates and thinks he sees Banquo’s ghost because the malevolent deed is burdening his conscience.

Macbeth is then lost and seeks the witches who tell him to beware of Macduff but be assured no man born of a woman can harm him. The witches then tell Macbeth that he is safe until “Great Burnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him”. These two prophecies calm Macbeth, as he does not really take them as a threat. The prophecy that a line of kings shall descend from Banquo makes Macbeth much more agitated. Macbeth’s ambition is overriding what should be alarming him. It is evident that he is blinded by this ambition as he will be cut down from the position that so drove him to do what ever it took to become king.

The end is near for Lady Macbeth as she is ruined by her own treacherous ambitions. The murder of the king is making her go insane, as she rubs her hands and speaks, “Out, damned spot! out, I say! ”. Her mind is deteriorating from the guilt which apparently overwhelms her. The end is also near for Macbeth and he no longer fears death because it has lingered so close to him for a long while. Macbeth is numb from all the events which caused his downfall. Even when his wife died he shows practically no emotion and says she should have picked a more convenient time to die.

Mentally, Macbeth no longer exists. Macbeth’s actually death comes to him when Macduff tells him he was “from his mother’s womb untimely ripped”. First Macbeth is in doubt, but as he realizes the prophecies hold true, there is nothing he can do but fight and face a death that was inevitable. It was Lady Macbeth that caused Macbeth to become blinded by ambition. He did desire the crown but it was Lady Macbeth who took control and forced Macbeth on a self-destructive path that would lead only to misery, not only for himself, but for all around him.

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