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How far is Macbeth solely responsible for his own downfall?

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Introduction

How far is Macbeth solely responsible for his own downfall? At the beginning of `Macbeth' we see him as a successful general, described as noble and valiant. By the end of the play he has become a multiple killer who will think nothing of murdering helpless women and children (see Act 4 Scene 2). The question though, is whether he was solely responsible for his transformation from a loyal patriot to a regicide. There are certain people that influenced Macbeth most notably his wife and the three witches who first brought him the news that he would be King. Neither of these, it has to be said, can be entirely responsible for his downfall. Even combined there are still many actions for which he is solely responsible. I believe that whenever people allow their sense of what is right to be overcome by their ambition they are doomed to disaster. Macbeth is a clear-cut case of this. Macbeth first saw the witches on his way to greet the King after displaying amazing heroism and bravery in a battle, in which he killed the leader of the opposing army. They tell Macbeth that he shall be Thane of Cawdor and later King. ...read more.

Middle

Although he is ambitious to be King, he seems to be content to let chance take its course. However events prove that this is not the case. We can see Macbeth's ambition growing ever stronger as when he finds out that Malcolm is to be King Duncan's heir he is shocked and obviously changes his mind in thinking that whatever will be, will be. He admits he has 'black and deep desires' and calls on the stars not to shine their light on his thoughts. It is clear that from this point Macbeth is considering acting to bring about the witches' prophecy. To show his gratitude, the king says he will visit Macbeth at his castle. This is a great honour for Macbeth. It seems that fate has given Macbeth the perfect opportunity to fulfil his ambition by putting Duncan into Macbeth's power. Macbeth has to choose whether to let fate take its course or whether he will act and seize the throne. The role of Lady Macbeth is crucial. She alternatively bullies and cajoles him, often calling him coward. She manipulates him, playing on his weaknesses. She compares herself to him, saying how much braver she is and that although, "...I have given suck and know How tender `tis to love the babe that ...read more.

Conclusion

Lady Macbeth pushed him to the edge when persuading him to kill Duncan. Once Macbeth had overcome his moral scruples in killing Duncan then the subsequent murders were easy. He feels little or no compunction in ordering Banquo and Fleances' assassination. Even the madness and death of his own wife leaves him strangely unmoved and able to contemplate the transience of life, " She should have died hereafter" is one of his strange comments. Having once committed a murder, a murder of a sacred anointed King, he sees himself as doomed, knowing that he has given his soul to the devil, " ...and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man," "...I have supped full of horrors; Direness familiar to my slaughterhouse thoughts Cannot once start me...." The great tragedy of the play is the loss of the man Macbeth could have been and almost was, but for the contradictions in his character and his fatal mistake in giving in to his ambition. It was his choice alone to kill the King, no one else's yet had he not been told the future by the witches and pushed by his wife he would never have become what he did. Therefore I feel that he is not entirely responsible for his own downfall. ...read more.

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