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“Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair” - What factors contribute to the downfall of Macbeth?

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"Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair" What factors contribute to the downfall of Macbeth? Shakespeare's text Macbeth is the tale of a man ruined by his own ambition. The tragedy has many continuing themes of which I will be looking at and analysing in my study. I shall contemplate which influences add most to the fated downfall of Macbeth. Furthermore I aim to decide in my own opinion how much Macbeth was to blame for the unfortunate happenings in the Scottish play. The four main factors which contribute to the downfall of our eponymous hero are as follows. The witches, weird sisters, creatures of chaos; Lady Macbeth, Macbeth's "fiend-like queen" ; fate and destiny, Macbeth is nothing but a "player"; and finally Macbeth himself and his hermatia. The play is opened by the witches outside, there is thunder and lightning. All of these things would have shocked and terrified a Shakespearean audience. Outside scenes are full of chaos because the outdoors were seen as unsafe. Weather and the natural elements were said to reflect the state of life for men on Earth, therefore bad weather meant bad times. In Shakespeare's texts the most important character would open the piece. Witches opening a performance would have been unimaginable. The witches obviously have a strong influence over important characters in the play. King Duncan echoes the witches words without hearing them. The second witch says: "When the battles lost and won." Duncan echoes this by saying: "What he hath lost, noble Macbeth hath won." Macbeth's first line is also reverberant of the second witch in the opening scene. The paraphrase he uses is: "So foul and fair a day I have not seen." These words appear to contradict each other, things are not as they seem and it is hard to define between reality and illusion. The witches' words have been put in Macbeth's mouth. ...read more.


There is always the argument that Macbeth could not be responsible for his actions as everything we do is premeditated by a higher being. Shakespearean times were times when all believed in fate and destiny and there are some references to this in the text. In my opinion the best by far is the speech he gives after Lady Macbeth's death is announced. He realises what large mistakes he has made and how none of what he has tried to achieve matters anymore. " Tomorrow , and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets this hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more: It is a tale told by an idiot, Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth is saying he is nothing but a puppet and fate is pulling the strings. I think, however, Macbeth has to take some of the blame himself. He does not think of the consequences of his actions. Killing Duncan should have only made Malcolm the king. In theory killing Duncan would not have gained him the throne. Macbeth finds it easy to lie: " The service and the loyalty I owe, In doing it, pays thyself." He lied easily to the king even when it was unnecessary. He speaks secretly of: " Black and deep desires." when Malcolm is announced Prince of Cumberland. This is the correct order of the chain of being. He sees himself as equal to the king's son. He is so full of hubris he dares to consider Malcolm a rival to the throne. In his letter to Lady Macbeth he twists the words of the witches to say that they promised him the throne when, in fact, they did nothing of the sort. ...read more.


I begin to pity Macbeth when he finally realises he has lost the battle to be ruler. He is calling Seyton before he had entered, he must be wanting company. "come put mine armour on; give me my staff" He needs armoured clothing to protect him mentally, not physically. He feels comforted and protected by it. His armour is his identity. Macbeth moves into grief when he is told Birnam wood appears to be moving. The four signs of grief are: panic, despair, denial and acceptance. Macbeth moves in and out of all of these phases in one speech. The play is now tumbling towards a resolution. Macbeth is still clinging to his only piece of hope, that: "What's he that was not of woman born? Such a one am I to fear or none." He discovers that Macduff was born of a caesarean operation. He is killed by Macduff's sword. Macbeth does however die a warrior which is what he was all along. "Yet I will try the last" He fought until the end and never gave up. Macbeth manages to leave the play a hero. I believe his down fall was his fault as without him nothing would have been possible. Fate and destiny are possible factors but it was his own judgement and decision making which led things to result how they did. He was physically strong but mentally he had many flaws. People manipulated these flaws but if they did not exist then none of it would have been conceivable. If fate or the witches took responsibility then they still chose Macbeth to do these wicked deeds because of who he was and who they could easily make him. If fate controlled Macbeth then fate also made Macbeth's disposition. Without Macbeth's hermatia none of the situations which arose could have occurred the same. Therefore I believe Macbeth was the architect of his own downfall. ?? ?? ?? ?? Fiona Whyte 10JWB ...read more.

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