The Downfall of Macbeth

Cate Wilhite

Macbeth's Downfall

The downfall of Macbeth is mainly attributed to his own ambition. Macbeth's sense of over confidence and the impact of the witches' prophecy lead to his downfall in the play. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a strong night, loyal to the Scottish King, but has a strong desire for power. When Macbeth encounters the witches, the ambition for power that he already had becomes more prominent and takes over his life. Macbeth states "My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man That function is smother'd in surmise, and nothing is but what is not"(1.3.52-55). By stating this, Macbeth shows that he has a deep murderous ambition. Later, Macbeth reveals more of his darker, ambitious side by saying "Stars hide your fires,let not light see my black and deep desires"(1.4.58-59). By saying this, Macbeth means that he wants to hide his murderous thoughts and kill Duncan without anyone knowing. To add to this, Banquo states "Thou has id now, King, Cawdor, Glamis, all, as the weird women promised, and I fear though played'st most foully for't..."(3.1.1-3). Banqou suspects that Macbeth became king in an evil way. This plays off of what the witches told Macbeth in their prophecy where they gave him the idea that he would become king. The witches did not however cause Macbeth's downfall, as they just gave him the idea and did not push him to make it happen the way he did.
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Literary Devices

Dramatic Irony:

In act one of scene six Macbeth and Lady Macbeth welcome many people, including King Duncan, to their castle. The Macbeth's are very kind and polite to all of their guests, especially King Duncan. Lady Macbeth shows dramatic irony by stating, "All our service In every point twice done, and then done double, Were poor and single business to contend Against those honors deep and broad where with Your Majesty loads our house. For those of old, And the late dignities heaped up to them, we rest your hermits"(1.6.17-23). Lady Macbeth shows dramatic irony because she is basically sucking up to King Duncan while planning to kill him.


In scene one of act two Macbeth is preparing to kill King Duncan. Banquo suspects Macbeth's plans because of the witches' prophecies. Macbeth hears a funeral bell while plotting King Duncan's death. Macbeth hearing this is foreshadowing because Macbeth feels that, "I go, and it is done. The bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven, or to hell"(2.1.71-73). The bell shows foreshadowing because it is a funeral bell that signifies Duncan's death.

Dynamic Character:

In scene two of act three Macbeth and Lady Macbeth talk privately and discuss Duncan's murder. Right after the murder, Lady Macbeth felt as if it was no big deal, whereas Macbeth thought he had done something incredibly awful. At this point in the play, these thoughts are reversed and Lady Macbeth feels that "Naught's had, all's spent, where our desire is got without content, 'Tis safer to be that which we destroy Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy"(3.2.6-9).This shows that Lady Macbeth changes throughout the story, therefore making her a dynamic character.

Movie Connection

In The Lion King, Scar, like Macbeth, lets his ambition takeover him and ends up killing Mufasa, the king, so he can become king. Macbeth kills King Duncan in order to become king the same way Scar killed Mufasa to become king.


Song Connection

The song "Go the Distance" by Michael Bolton resembles Macbeth's ambition because the lyrics go "I am on my way, I can go the distance, I don't care how far, somehow I'll be strong, I know every mile, Will be worth my while, I could go most anywhere, To find where I belong". This relates to Macbeth because Macbeth will do anything to become king, even kill the current king.

-Lyrics start at 2:24