A good description of the character Macbeth from an unknown author: “I am my own worst enemy and I can never win the fight” (www. searchquotes. com). This quote describes Macbeth’s fighting for the throne and his failure in doing so. The main character, Macbeth, and his wife, Lady Macbeth, plot together to kill their king and take over the throne. Their success is short lived when the guilt of this evil act takes its toll on Lady Macbeth ultimately ending in her demise and Macbeth steers him self towards his own downfall. Macbeth makes bad decisions during the play that all snowball into a final battle.
A question that is regularly thrown up in the air for debate is- Who is Responsible for Macbeth’s downfall? Some critics believe that it was Lady Macbeth that led Macbeth on the road to failure. Seeing how she is the one who forcefully prods Macbeth into murdering Duncan; However, it is Macbeth who suggests that they take advantage of their golden opportunity and Lady Macbeth just keeps him on track with their devious plan. In fact when one looks at who is the most responsible for Macbeth’s downfall, it is Macbeth because he was the first to think about killing Duncan, he killed Banquo, and he murdered Macduff’s family.
To begin, some might argue that it is Lady Macbeth who is the main reason for Macbeth’s downfall. After receiving the message from Macbeth about his prophecy given to him by the three witches he tells her that they should kill Duncan when he come over to their castle. When Macbeth is considering to not kill Duncan lady Macbeth threatens him with: “I would, while it was smiling in my face,/ Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums/ And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you/ Have done to this” (I. vii. 57-60). To some critics this line is the shove that Lady Macbeth gives Macbeth to his downfall.
This is just one interpretation of who is at fault, the evidence from Act I shows that it is really Macbeth who is at fault. The three witches have just given Macbethand Banquo their prophecies. Macbeth is thinking about what the witches have told him: “If good, why do I yield to that suggestion/ Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair” (I. iii. 138-139). This is Macbeth realizing that his first thought after finding out that the first prophecy came true and what he will have to do for the second one to come true. Macbeth caused his own downfall by thinking about killing Duncan and then sharing those thoughts with Lady Macbeth.
If Macbeth never had the thought of taking fate into his own hands then he would not have told Lady Macbeth and would not have had his horrific downfall. That is why he is the one responsible for his own demise. Firstly, Macbeth caused his own downfall by killing King Duncan. His thoughts about killing Duncan started his downward spiral to his own death. Macbeth is a very malicious character bound for self destruction while taking others who were close to him, with him. Macbeth’s first instinct when given the prophecies is to murder for his own personal gain.
Macbeth is still thinking over whether or not to kill Duncan when he says: “Is this a dagger which I see before me,/ The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee” (II. i. 33-35). This quote shows that subconsciously he wants to kill Duncan for the throne. Even though he is weary about the murder his subconscious is telling him that it is the right thing to do and that he will be better off as king. Macbeth is convincing himself to kill Duncan, which shows that he is the reason for his downfall by starting a chain of events that lead to his death.
Macbeth also raises suspicion from Banquo by killing Duncan because Banquo heard the prophecy of being king as well. Banquo is leaving Macbeth’s castle when he says: “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,/ As the weird women promised, and I fear/ Thou played’st most foully for ’t” (III. i. 1-3). This quote is Banquo saying that he suspects that Macbeth has cheated Duncan from the throne. This adds to Macbeth being his own worse enemy because now he has created a loose end because Banquo knows about the prophecy given to him.
This is another reason why Macbeth caused his own downfall. Secondly, Macbeth adds to his own downfall by trying to clean up after himself by getting rid of Banquo and Fleance whom he fears knows about him killing King Duncan. Macbeth is worried about the truth of the murder getting out so he takes matters into his own hands by hiring three murderers to find and kill Banquo and Fleance before they can tell anyone of the terrible truth about Duncan’s untimely death. Macbeth fears Banquo because Banquo suspect’s foul play in Macbeth’s becoming of king.
Macbeth shows his fear of him right after he and Fleance leave Macbeth’s castle: “There is none but he/ Whose being I do fear” (III. i. 56-57). In this quote Macbeth is talking about Banquo and how he fears that he knows that he murdered Duncan to become king. Macbeth supects that Banquo knows this because he was with him when the three witches came and gave Macbeth the prophecy of becoming king. Because of the prophecy that was given to Banquo, he would not be king but his son would start a line of kings, this means that Macbeth must be overthrown for Fleance to be king.
Macbeth sends people to kill Banquo and Fleance because he does not want the prophecy to become reality because this would mean his death. Macbeth knows that he has made it easier for Fleance to be king when he says: “For them the gracious/ Duncan have I murdered:/… To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings! ” (III. i. 68,72). Macbeth has killed Duncan and assumed the role of king but once Banquo tells people that Macbeth has killed Duncan then there will be an uprising against Macbeth, which may end in him dying.
If Duncan were still alive then Fleance would not have a chance to become king and Macbeth would not have created his own downfall. Lastly, Macbeth goes out of his way to murder Macduff’s family because he did not attend his coronation. This leads to Macduff grieving over his loss and Malcolm trying to turn his sorrow into vengeance. Malcolm convinces Macduff to seek revenge on Macbeth by telling Macduff: “Be comforted. / Let’s make us med’cines of our great revenge,/ To cure this deadly grief” (IV. iii. 219-221).
Malcolm is telling Macduff to use revenge to help mend his broken heart from the death of his family. Malcolm wants to seek revenge on Macbeth for killing is father and stealing the throne and wants Macduff to do the same. Macduff agrees with Malcolm and they set out to kill Macbeth for his treachery. By killing Macduff’s family, Macbeth only gave Macduff a reason to kill him. There was no need to kill Macduff’s family that is why Macbeth is at fault for his own downfall and no one else. To conclude, Macbeth’s downfall is entirely his own fault.
Firstly his malicious side comes out and he kills King Duncan, then he proceeds to try and clean up his mess by getting rid of suspicions which goes unsuccessful, and finally he murders Macduff’s family which gave Macduff reason to kill him. That is how Macbeth caused his own downfall and is why he is entirely at fault. The outcome may have been different if it were not for all three events happening. Because these events occurred lives were lost for nothing seeing as Macbeth lost the throne and died in the end.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 28 October 2016
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