A Scottish Horror Story

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Should the downfall of Macbeth be blamed on none other than himself?

Yes, Macbeth definitely let his ambition get the best of him. Macbeth even says, "'I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls to the other'" (1.7.25-28). Macbeth is being honest with himself and saying there is no good reason to kill Duncan and just wants the power that comes with being king for himself. This shows that the prophecies have messed with his head and sparked his ambition to a whole new level, which is what has motivated him to kill the king. Macbeth also says something rather revealing later: "'For mine own good all causes shall give way. I am in blood stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er'" (3.4.167-170). Macbeth is revealing that he is doing all of these things for his own good, such as killing Duncan to become king, killing Banquo, etc. This blatantly reveals to the reader that Macbeth is getting overly confident due to his drive. In the end, Macbeth realizes that all his efforts to become king were unnecessary: "'She should have died hereafter; there would have been time for such a word. 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 his 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'" (5.5.20-31). Macbeth has realized that it is inevitable that Malcolm will become king. Macbeth also recognizes that he is about to die and his wife, Lady Macbeth, is dead. The reader is now able to see clearly that Macbeth has destroyed himself because of his ambition.

Song connection

'Hurt' by Nine Inch Nails

"What have I become? My sweetest friend, everyone I know goes away in the end. You could have it all, my empire of dirt" (Hurt). The song 'Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails is talking about how somebody is not sure what they've become and they're not exactly proud of it. Macbeth did have second thoughts about the prophesies, and when Macbeth would freak out after he'd killed someone, Lady Macbeth would try and twist it around to comfort him by saying everything was okay. The song also talks about how everyone they know goes away in the end, just like when Macbeth killed almost everyone he knew. Finally, where the song is talking about how 'you could have it all', it resembled where Macbeth realized there was no way to avoid Malcolm becoming king, so he let Macduff kill him.

'The Old Guitarist' by Pablo Picasso (1903)

'The Old Guitarist' is a painting of a man who is blind and poor but still tries to play the guitar. This would take ambition for a blind man to learn to play the guitar, considering it will be hard to play without being able to see the frets. This relates back to Macbeth's ambition. However, Macbeth's ambition ended up destroying him because he was too focused on becoming king the wrong way. Directly after Macbeth becomes king, people already begin to call him a tyrant. In 'Macbeth' Shakespeare wrote, "The son of Duncan (From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth)" (3.6.28-29). The man in the painting also looks a bit upset, the same way that Macbeth would get upset with himself and distressed after he'd kill somebody: "As they had seen me with these hangman's hands, list'ning their fear. I could not say 'Amen!'" (2.2.42-43). This is where Macbeth is losing it because he feels so guilty for killing Duncan he cannot say amen. The man in the painting looks distressed, which is what Macbeth is feeling.