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How Far Do You Agree With the Argument That Macbeth Was Responsible For His Own Downfall?

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Introduction

HOW FAR DO YOU AGREE WITH THE ARGUMENT THAT MACBETH WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS OWN DOWNFALL? Macbeth is a tragic play that traces the rise and fall of the main character: Macbeth, a virtuous man, corrupted by power and greed. Macbeth could be seen to be the sole cause of his downfall but in my opinion the three witches and Lady Macbeth are more responsible. Although Macbeth committed many foul acts I believe that they were done only because he was under the influence of three or arguably four powerful witches. During the seventeenth century it was widely believed that witches had the power and ability to control a person's mental and physical being. Lady Macbeth, although not a 'secret and midnight hag', could most certainly be considered a witch according to the standards of Shakespeare's day. In the same way that the three witches subvert the natural order of religion and society, Lady Macbeth subverts the order of sexes and the family by attempting to have more power than the head of the family: her husband. Not only does she act subversively, but also several of her actions imply that she is actually witch-like. ...read more.

Middle

In my opinion he is so much under the influence of the witches that he is having hallucinations and even talking to them. Macbeth comes to believe that the dagger is a sign telling him to kill Duncan. When Macbeth hears a bell he believes that '[he goes] and it is done: the bell invites [him]. hear it not, Duncan; for it's a knell that summons thee to heaven or to hell'. The scene ends wit this rhyming couplet. This gives it extra resonance and depth as it concludes the scene and points to central moment. Macbeth completes the task of murdering Duncan and from then after his mind is transfixed with thoughts of guilt and murder combined. The imagery of blood is immense during the scene after Duncan's death. Macbeth feels that his heart is stained with blood and that even 'all great Neptune's ocean' cannot wash away the blood on his hands. The blood symbolises different images, firstly the literal one of murder and death and secondly it signifies evil and darkness. Once the murder of Duncan has been found out, Malcom and Donalbain flee for their lives and Macbeth is named the new King of Scotland. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth started off as a honourable man, with high regards for his fellow countrymen, but he was misled and wrongly influenced by the three witches. He soon became a vicious, murderous and mentally insane man. His mind was corrupted by his wife and even more so by the three witches and this was the ultimate cause of his downfall. Consequently he was an atrocious king and when compared to the contemporary King James the sixth of Scotland and first of England, he bears no comparison. James was very much against evil acts such as witchcraft and branded the belief and practice of it to be illegal. On the other hand one could argue that Macbeth's obsessive following of the witches eventually led to his demise. His character was therefore considered to be evil right from the start of the play. James was also very much for the loyalty of his subjects, however Macbeth was unfaithful to Duncan, Banquo and all the other high status people. The character of Macbeth is a study of how one person can degenerate from 'Bellona's bridegroom' to 'this dead butcher', the way in which a person can go from such a high point in his life to a murderer and then death. By Nicole Sawdaye ...read more.

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