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Who or what is responsible for the downfall of Macbeth and how does Shakespeare present the battle between the forces of good and evil?

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Introduction

Who or what is responsible for the downfall of Macbeth and how does Shakespeare present the battle between the forces of good and evil? There can be no doubt that Macbeth's gradual downfall begins when he and Banquo encounter the three witches. Clearly, the two of them have different reactions to the witches. Banquo believes that "To win us to our harm / The instruments of darkness tell us truths" (1.3.125). On the other hand, however, Macbeth does not realise that the witch's advice is wicked; "This supernatural soliciting / Cannot be ill" (1.3.131). This shows that, while Banquo is very cautious of the witches, Macbeth has no apprehension of what the witches are leading him into and he is trusting of everything they tell him. This is noticed by Banquo who states; "My noble partner / You greet with present grace, and great prediction / Of noble having, and of royal hope / That he seems rapt withal" (1.3.54). Here, we may observe that Banquo is wary of Macbeth's anticipation of the witches' remarks. Unlike Macbeth, Banquo resists the temptation of the witches and never trusts anything that the "instruments of darkness" say to him. He realises that the witches represent immorality and he even questions if they are real; "So withered, and so wild in their attire / That look not like th'inhabitants o'th' earth / And yet are on't?" ...read more.

Middle

Earlier on, Macbeth's mind shows him up - especially at the banquet. Here, Banquo's ghost appears and, to Macbeth's horror, sits in the king's seat. Macbeth cries, "Avaunt, and quit my sight, let the earth hide thee" (3.4.95) and, "Thou canst not say I did it - never shake / Thy gory locks at me" (3.4.50). At this point, as one may imagine, suspicion of Macbeth grows. Near the end of the play, everybody suspects him and he goes mad. Caithness, a thane, confirms this by stating, "Some say he's mad" (5.2.14). Macbeth's mind is summed up when he says, "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage / And then is heard no more" (5.5.24). Macbeth, as can be seen, is in a state of doubt and depression. This line is one of Macbeth's last lines and compounds his misery. A chief cause of Macbeth's downfall is his wife and "dearest partner of greatness" (1.5.10) Lady Macbeth. She is indirectly responsible for all of the murders that Macbeth commits due to her persuading of Macbeth to pursue his desires and murder Duncan. After this murder Macbeth is forced to commit more to secure his throne and get rid of anybody who is suspicious of him. The reason behind Macbeth's further murders are that he is "in blood / Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more / Returning were as tedious as go o'er" (3.4.137). ...read more.

Conclusion

When he says that "the greatest is behind", he means that he accomplished the positions of Thane of Glamis and of Cawdor but the kingship is not yet his. Yet, he believes that, because of the prophecies, it wail have to be his soon. There is also imagery used when Macbeth says; "Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown / And put a barren sceptre in my gripe" (3.1.60). This imagery is used by Shakespeare to explain that Macbeth shall not be the father of future kings but, instead, Banquo. Also in 'Macbeth', Shakespeare uses a theme of duplicity and deception. This is shown when Duncan says; "See, see, our honoured hostess" (1.6.11). This is showing the deception of Lady Macbeth because Duncan is actually seeing something false. This is also a cross-reference because, earlier on, Lady Macbeth had told Macbeth to "look like th'innocent flower / But be the serpent under't" (1.5.64). Another cross-reference to Duncan praising Lady Macbeth is when Donalbain says; "There's daggers in men's smiles" (2.3.142). Another theme used regularly by Shakespeare in this play is dramatic irony. An example of this is; "These deeds must not be thought / After these ways : so, it will make us mad" (2.2.34). This is incredibly ironic because this is her giving advice to Macbeth when it is she, in the end, who commits suicide because she has gone mad. ...read more.

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