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To what extent is Macbeth responsible for his own downfall?

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Introduction

To what extent is Macbeth responsible for his own downfall? There are many factors, which can be taken into account when deciding to what extent Macbeth was responsible for his own downfall. Macbeth was affected by three categories of influence, which were: the witches, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Throughout the tragedy, the three categories evolved in different ways, effecting Macbeth and bringing various consequences to his life. For example, the appearance of witches in Act 1 made Macbeth come back to them in Act 4 in order to find out his future; and King Duncan's murder caused Macbeth guilty conscience immediately after he committed the murder. The audience experience various feelings throughout the play. The witches, who are to have a profound influence over events in the play, meet in foul whether, and speak of thunder, lightning, fog, and filthy air. The audience associate that with evil and that introduces 'Macbeth' as a dark and dangerous play. There is a hidden historical context in the play, as in Shakespearean times people and King James the first of England were all very much fascinated with witchcraft as they believed in their powers and were afraid of them. This is why Shakespeare decided to include them in this play. In Shakespearean times, only men acted in theatres, so therefore they played both men and women. As men played witches it made them look like ugly women, and that confirms the stereotype of witches being ugly women. In Act 1, scene 1 the witches say a certain phrase: "Fair is foul and foul is fair" and it suggests that 'evil' is the theme of the play. These words are quite confusing because they contradict each other, is that what the play is about? Later on the audience hears Macbeth say his first lines, which are those exact same words "So foul and fair a day I have not seen"- Act 1, scene 3. ...read more.

Middle

Adam is innocent and before the murder, the audience is under the impression that Macbeth is too. Lady Macbeth is very good at hiding her emotions in order to conceal Macbeth's mistakes and this extends her complexity. She is able to obtain a 'poker face', which she uses to deflect other's attention. This is in district contrast with Macbeth who is the opposite, as he cannot hide his emotions. Lady Macbeth acts very differently when she is around king Duncan: Act 1, scene 6: "All our service, in every point twice done, and then done double, were poor and single business, to contend against those honours deep and broad, wherewith your majesty loads our house..." Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to act the same too, while they were plotting against king Duncan: Act 1, scene 5: "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't." She faints and succeeds in drawing attention from Macbeth when Duncan is found dead: Act 2, scene 3: "Help me hence, ho!" She also distracts the lords while Macbeth sees the ghost of dead Banquo and starts going out of his mind: Act 3, scene 4: "Think of this, good peers, but as a thing of custom: 'tis no other; only it spoils the pleasure of the time." At that point, Macbeth makes an error of judgement and Lady Macbeth has a go at him: "Fie, for shame!" So, has Macbeth the strength to cope with his freedom? The answer is no. Lady Macbeth knows how to control and persuade Macbeth. Usually she insults him in various ways to make him realise what he is doing wrong: Act 3, scene 4: "You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting, with most admired disorder." This proves how well she knows Macbeth. She knows that he is very ambitious and honourable. Nevertheless, throughout the play, what the audience come to realise is that she has no regard for morality. ...read more.

Conclusion

Macbeth's situation may be looked at as an external metaphor of a train. In the beginning, Macbeth is on a train and he has every opportunity to get off. Soon the train starts moving and Macbeth realises that he is on the wrong train and he can still get off, yet he does not. As the train begins to gain speed, he does not attempt to get off and he is certainly incapable of going back. In all respects, the answer is obvious - Macbeth is clearly to blame for his own downfall. However, it must be considered that it is easy for the audience to form the opinion of Macbeth being an evil man, however Macbeth was inherently good. He was essentially a good man who was attempted to do evil. In all respects, he still is a good man because he had guilty conscience; an evil man would have no recall of any guilty conscience. Shakespeare's intensions in this tragedy were to explain to people what complex creatures we really are, and what complex relationships we may occur in and what situations we may find ourselves in. The play itself is full of complexities and contradictions to which the audience may refer, no matter what time it is. This is what makes 'Macbeth' a classic. Another one of Shakespeare's intensions was to show what is good and what is evil. Sometimes in order to show something, the completely opposite must be shown, as that has a better effect. This is what Shakespeare did. It is difficult to understand though, to what extent Lady Macbeth is present in the whole understanding of 'evil'. Throughout the play, does Shakespeare want the audience to refer to Lady Macbeth as a good or an evil character? He showed us true evil that was both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, in order to make us realise what good must be. Nevertheless, whether it is a live performance, a written play, or a novel, the author's success will always be hidden in his intensions and the way in which he communicates with his audience. ...read more.

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