The Tragedy of Macbeth

Bailey Stuart

Macbeth's Downfall

Following his criminal act of murdering Duncan, Macbeth's life seems to climb uphill, but everything that goes up, must come down. There must have been a reason to this. Macbeth's downfall was due to his ignorance and carelessness.

Although when Macbeth first killed King Duncan he took extra precaution to keep his act a secret, he slipped up now and again. He let out hints to his fellow peers of the murderous crime he had committed. Just after the murder while he was speaking with Lennox he mentions that he had already known about Duncan's death and killed the guards in an outrage. When Lennox tells the group, Macbeth replies with "Oh, yet I do repent me of my fury, That I did kill them." (Act 2, Scene 3, Shakespeare). This small slip up is just the beginning of Macbeth's down spiral, it is also what starts the suspicion that he committed the crime.

As a result of The Weird Sister's prophecy, Macbeth comes to the idea that he has no need to fear another living soul. He believes that he is invincible among death that is unnatural. What convinces him to come to this conclusion in when the witches tell him "The power of man, for none of woman born Shall harm Macbeth." (Act 4, Scene 1, Shakespeare). In the simplest explanation, what the witches are telling Macbeth that no man who was born of a woman could kill or even harm him for that matter. This results in Macbeth becoming careless and cocky, ignoring the fact that the witches could be tricking him.

Macbeth is a very ignorant man. Even after his wife kills himself and an army is practically standing at his doorstep, Macbeth refuses to see the fact that there was even the possibility of him being killed. "Thou losest labor. As easy mayst thou intrenchant air with thy keen sword impress as make me bleed. Let fall thy blade fall on vulnerable crests;" (Act 5, Scene 8, Shakespeare). Macbeth is literally saying that the sword may as well be stabbing air because he cannot die. He could have at least been wearing some sort of protection, but out of ignorance he just believes the witches, and dies.

Literary Devices Found in Macbeth


After their father was killed Malcolm and Donalbain believe that they are more than likely to be next. To prevent from getting killed Malcolm and Donalbain rush off in two different directions, thinking they would be harder to track down separated. Macduff brings this news when he says, "They were suborned. Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons, Are stol'n away and fled" (Act 2 Scene 4 Shakespeare).


Just before killing Duncan, Macbeth envisions a dagger. This dagger is bloody and it symbolizes the crime in which Macbeth is about to commit. The descriptive detail of the dagger allows Macbeth to see how horrendous and bloody this murder will be. When Macbeth sees this dagger he begins to have a conversation with himself "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before. There’s no such thing. It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes."


The irony in Macbeth started in the beginning. When the witches were giving Macbeth their prophecy in Act one, Scene three, they told him "All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter". This prophecy is ironic because being king was not like Macbeth thought it would be. He most likely assumed that being king would be a joy, he would be rich and; have fame and power. In his case becoming king was just one step on the ladder leading closer to his death.

Song Connection

"Ignorance", by Paramore reflects Macbeth and his downfall. He was taken under the wing of his own ignorance to make him believe that he could not fall from royalty. Quoted directly from Hayley Williams, lead singer of Paramore, "Ignorance is your new best friend." This song can be referred to the fact that instead of worrying and taking any precaution, Macbeth relies solely on what the witches told him. When they said he would not fall until the forest moved, he believed that he would not fall at all. So instead of taking the precautious route he really did take his own ignorance in as his "new best friend."

Icarus and Macbeth

In this piece it is showing a man with wings falling as those wings break. This man's name is Icarus and he was given wings made of wax. He was able to fly about the sky without worries, He never took into consideration of the safety problems that came along with these wings. He was not afraid of being in the sky, or falling from it, because of these wings that were keeping him air-born. It wasn't long before those wings made from wax began to melt from the heat of the sun. The wings had become useless as Icarus fell to his death.

This is similar to the situation of Macbeth's downfall. Because he thought he was invincible, he saw no need to be careful, only leading to his death. Both of these men threw caution to wind in ignorance in believing they could not be harmed. Those acts were concluded by the death of both of them. Shakespeare wrote in act three, scene one that the witches made Macbeth believe he could stand against anything by telling him "The power of man, None born of woman Shall harm Macbeth". This led to Macbeth thinking he was invincible.

Summary: Macbeth thinks he cannot die. Obviously he does die. Because he is dead. Macbeth is dumb.