Macbeth and His Downfall

By: Sarah Donahoe

Lady Macbeth: The Cause of Macbeth's Downfall

It can be concluded that Lady Macbeth is responsible for Macbeth's demise. Her intense pressure on him and ambition to rule. First, after reading of the witches' prophecy, Lady Macbeth had her sights set on murdering Duncan to steal the throne. She knew that her husband did not have it in him to commit murder, so she planned to persuade him, saying, "Hie thee hither, that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valor of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round" (Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 5 33). Her plan to drive out his doubts eventually worked, for Macbeth murdered Duncan and became king. Afterwards, when Macbeth was grieving and feeling intense guilt, Lady Macbeth convinced him to bury his emotions, furthering his insanity and depression. She tries to take his mind off the evil they just committed, saying, "These deeds must not be thought after these ways. So, it will make us mad" (Shakespeare Act 2 Scene 1 55). Finally, the horrible murders that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were involved in get to her. She is diagnosed with a mental illness; one without a cure. Soon after the diagnosis, Lady Macbeth dies. This tragedy is just another to add to Macbeth's sad life, adding to his demise. Macbeth, feeling that his life is meaningless expresses his grief, saying, "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!" (Shakespeare Act 5 Scene 4 171). Without Lady Macbeth's involvement in the story, one can only wonder if Macbeth would have killed Duncan among countless others.

Literary Devices Used in Macbeth

One of the things that makes Shakespeare such an amazing and interesting writer is his use of literary devices. These devices are helpful for clarification on what's going on in the story, as well as spices it up, making the story more enjoyable. Among many others, the use of symbolism, paradox, and dramatic irony are present in Macbeth.

First, Shakespeare uses dramatic irony when Duncan comes to the Macbeth house to celebrate Macbeth's becoming Thane of Cawdor. Lady Macbeth acted like the token hostess, saying, "Your servants ever have theirs, themselves, and what is theirs in compt, to make their audit at your Highness' pleasure, still to return your own" (Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 6 39). It is ironic that Lady Macbeth is being so nice to Duncan right before she plans to murder him. The witches' prophecy and his wife's encouragement have convinced Macbeth to kill Duncan, and they have decided to do it that night. The dramatic irony is significant to the story because it demonstrates how two-faced the Macbeths are and that they cannot be trusted.

Second, in the beginning of the play, Shakespeare uses a paradox that ends up being a common theme for the story. While the witches are discussing upcoming events, they all speak in unison, saying "Fair is foul, and foul is fair" (Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 1 7). This paradox explains all of Macbeth's actions. Murdering Duncan, the "foul" he committed, was seen in his eyes as just, or "fair". Because of the witches' prophecy and his wife's persuading argument, Macbeth's judgment is warped into thinking that he deserves the throne, that murder is the only logical solution. This lack of conscience will lead him towards further evil.

Finally, Shakespeare uses the bloody daggers used to kill Duncan to symbolize how Macbeth and Lady Macbeth deal with the evil murder. After killing the king, Macbeth is filled with fear, shock, and grief, hardly able to think. Lady Macbeth however, is hardly dazed and frames the servants by putting the bloody daggers with them. While insulting Macbeth for being a coward, Lady Macbeth says, "Give me the daggers. The sleeping and the dead are but as pictures. 'Tis the eye of childhood that fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I'll gild the faces of the grooms withal, for it must seem their guilt" (Shakespeare Act 2 Scene 2 57). She is able to think properly around all the blood, while Macbeth is struggling to keep his composure. This use of symbolism is very significant to the play because the idea that Lady Macbeth is the true evil mind behind all of Macbeth's murder is reoccurring.

Bruno Mars - Grenade (Lyrics)

"Grenade" and Macbeth

The song "Grenade", written by Bruno Mars, is the perfect example of Macbeth's downfall. This song demonstrates how Macbeth's love for Lady Macbeth made him crazy enough to do anything for her; even murder the king. In the song, Bruno sings that "I'd jump in front of a train for ya (yeah, yeah) You know I'd do anything for ya (yeah, yeah)". Macbeth feels the same way for Lady Macbeth. Before her input, killing Duncan was merely a thought, but once she expressed a deep interest, Macbeth made it his mission to become king. After much discussion with his wife, Macbeth finally makes up his mind to kill Duncan, saying, "I am settled and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest show; false face must hide what the false heart doth know" (Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 7 45). Bruno and Macbeth are alike in that they would do anything for their ladies.
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Artwork and Macbeth

In the painting, "Power and Ambition", by Anna and Elena Balbusso, the cause of Macbeth's downfall is clear. In the painting a woman with blood covering her hands is depicted.This applies to the book Macbeth because although she did not kill Duncan, Lady Macbeth conspired the murder. While explaining her plans for the heinous crime, Lady Macbeth says, "When Duncan is asleep, his two chamberlains will I wine and wassail so convince that memory, the warder of the brain, shall be a fume....When in swinish sleep their drenched natures lie as in a death, what cannot you and I perform upon the unguarded Duncan?" (Shakespeare Act 1 Scene 7 45). She was the mastermind of the murder, therefore making her just as guilty. The painting shows this idea perfect.