The Downfall of Macbeth

Katherine Fields

The Blame is of the Witches

Even though many actions and characters contributed to the downfall of Macbeth, the witches had the most influence on Macbeth and how he came down. The witches prophecies gave Macbeth the whole idea to become king and destroy anyone and everyone in his path. At the beginning of the play the witches discuss Macbeth, " Third Witch: All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter" (Act one, scene 3). The witches describe Macbeth as becoming the future king. By doing this they are giving Macbeth the fuel and the idea to become king. The prophecies mention two different important things that boost Macbeth's confidence making himself seem invincible. The witches tell Macbeth an unthinkable prophecy, "Second Apparition: ... The pow'r of man,for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth" (Act 4, scene 1). The witches tell Macbeth that no one born of a women can kill him, making him over confident. What Macbeth does not realize is that it does not include c-section. Macduff, who kills Macbeth, was born of c-section. The witches also predict that Macbeth will not be defeated until the woods travel to the castle. Malcolm's army approaches Macbeth's castle, " Malcolm: .... Thereby shall we shadow The numbers of our host and make discovery Err in report of us" (Act 5, scene 4).

The soldiers of Malcolm's army disguises themselves with leaves and mud to attack Macbeth. The witch's prophecies state that he will not be defeated until the woods come to his castle, and they do. This frightens Macbeth into surrendering and not wanting to fight. This leads to Macbeth's death. If the witches hadn't prophesized that Macbeth would have been king and giving him the idea then this all wouldn't have happened. They are the real ones to blame.

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Literary Device #1: Foreshadowing

When the witches explain their prophecies about Macbeth's future it is an example of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is basically a warning of the future, and the witches are warning Macbeth about his future. The witches speak of the prophecies, " First Apparition: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; Beware the Thane of Fife. Dismiss me. Enough." (Act 4, scene 1). In this prophecy, the witches warn Macbeth of Macduff. By the end of the play, Macduff kills Macbeth. This shows their prediction was right and they were foreshadowing how the rest of Macbeth's life was supposed to happen and end.
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Literary Device #2: Dynamic Character

Since Macbeth killed Duncan, Lady Macbeth changed personally. At the beginning of the play she was very ruthless and only cared about herself. After all the killings she soon lost her mind and went crazy. Lady Macbeth reads a letter from Macbeth about the witches, "It is too full o' the milk of human kindness" (Act 1, scene 5). As she learns about the prophecies, she doubts Macbeth and thinks he can not commit murder. She believes he is too weak. Lady Macbeth thinks he should do anything to get the crown. She probably would've commited the crime herself. Closing to the end of the play, she realizes it was a horrible idea and she is filled with guilt. Lady Macbeth washes her hand of imaginary Duncan blood, "What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?" (Act 5, scene 1). She is repeating how she convinced Macbeth to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth keeps picturing Duncan's death. At the end of the play it is known that she killed herself because she couldn't handle the guilt anymore.
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Literary Device #3: Foil

Though they both switch in how they contrast by the end of the play, an example of a foil is Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is very nervous about killing Duncan. He could feel the guilt creeping into his mind just because he was thinking about it. Macbeth ponders the idea, "Are less than horrible imaginings. My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man that function" (Act 1, scene 3). On the other hand, Lady Macbeth is quite different. She would really like for Macbeth to kill Duncan and she feels no shame. Lady Macbeth describes Macbeth to himself, "Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters... But be the serpent under't. He that's coming" (Act 1, scene 5). She describes Macbeth very weak and not able to be a man. At the end of the play they actually somehow switch roles. Lady Macbeth becomes filled with guilt and Macbeth is not as much. He gets over his guilt.
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Movie connection: The Gladiator

The movie The Gladiator resembles the play Macbeth because Commodus kills his father to become the leader of the civilization. The movie resembles Macbeth because Commodus wants the thrown and he will do anything to get it, even if it means killing his own father. Macbeth does a very alike action of killing some of his very good friends to achieve the thrown. The witches tell Macbeth that he is supposed to be king so he kills Duncan to become king. The witches gave him the idea. The witches gave him confidence to perform such a horrible crime. Commodus knew his father was going to give the thrown to Maximus, so the idea of somone else becoming king gave him the confidence to kill his father.
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Character analysis: Macbeth

Due to Macbeth's actions he has became one of the most important characters in the play. Macbeth changed throughout the play from being a caring, not so crazy man to a man that only cares about power and the prophecies. At the start of the play, Macbeth didn't care very much about the power of becoming king. He also wasn't willing to kill someone for the thrown. Macbeth describes his titles to the witches, "A prosperous gentleman; and to be King Stands not within the prospect of belief" (Act 1, scene 3). He just can't imagine himself being king. After he kills his first victim, Duncan, he feels an extreme amount of guilt. He wishes he could take it all back. Macbeth talks to Lady Macbeth about how he feels after killing Duncan, "I'll go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done;" (Act 2, scene 2). After a few days the guilt obviously disappears because he kills Banquo right after Duncan. Banquo was scared of the witches prophecies, so Macbeth did not kill him directly, but he did hire murders to kill Banquo. Macbeth convinces the murderers to kill Banquo, "Know That it was he, in the times past, which held you So under fortune, which you thought had been Our innocent self" (Act 3, scene 1). Macbeth wanted the murderers to think Banquo was a horrible guy so that they would kill him. I think that he changed for the worst. At the beginning he wasn't as willing to kill anyone and everyone for the thrown. I personally think it was all the witches fault.
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