Macbeth's Downfall

what caused a hero to commit such treacherous crimes?

The tale of a tragic hero...

Macbeth is one of the most famous of Shakespeare's scripts. In this tale of treachery and insanity, there was a well known hero by the name of Macbeth. He was a fierce warrior and won many battles for his kingdom. Macbeth was well respected, and had good relations with Duncan, King of Scotland. Unfortunately, with all great hero's, there are even greater evils. After being shown that he would be more than just a servant to his kingdom; he would be the king. Consequently, in order to do this, the present king must die. Macbeth and his wife, lady Macbeth, set a plan in order to relinquish Duncan from his thrown.

With their mission complete, and royalty in their families blood, the Macbeth's ruled over their new kingdom. However, not everyone was loyal to the new king. Banquo, one of Macbeth's greatest allies and friend, had suspicions of his highness. As the knight began to snoop after the traitor, Macbeth had assassin's eliminate the threat. With all the power Macbeth had, he couldn't shake the fact that he had done such terrible things. Within time, he began to forget his troubles, and became corrupted. His mind, as well as his wife's, became twisted. Lady Macbeth's mind became to tragic, and with it, she dug her own grave of sorrow, and died at Macbeth's worst moment. The rebels were coming, and Macbeth wasn't going to let all he worked for, all that he had killed for, to go away. His mind got so swallowed up in fear and greed that it blocked him at the moment he needed it most. The traitor king died by the hand of one of his own companions. As his death was crucial to the kingdoms survival, he still had the fear of human nature stuck in the hearts of all those he knew.

The Cause of such Sins?

Though the tragic hero lost his sanity, some may think that it wasn't all his doing. There are a couple different suspects in the cause of Macbeth's treachery. These suspects are all people that have interacted with Macbeth in his journey to hell thereafter: Lady Macbeth, the three witches, and Macbeth. The answer: the traitor himself. Macbeth has fallen into a "selective thought paradox", which causes him to think in a more direct manner. Instead of thinking about what could happen, he only focused on what he wanted to happen. He became unknown to the world, but know only to his own greed. His will for power was too great to overcome, and with the help of others, it only made it worse.

The Three witches were the beginning of all the chaos: "hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter"(Shakespeare 19). They were the ones who put the thought of overtaking the kingdom into Macbeth's head: however, that doesn't make them guilty for the whole scenario. Yes they had started it, but Macbeth was the one who fell under their trap. The witches laid the bait, and Macbeth fell into the snare. The witches weren't the only obstacle that came in the way of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth was probably had an even bigger affect on Macbeth than the ones who started it all. Being the wife of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth had much control over her husband in the beginning. She became a wake up call for the newly made traitor. With the insult of having no courage, Lady Macbeth only kindled his flame: "live a coward in thine own esteem"(Shakespeare 43). The thought of being a coward in his own wife's eyes drove Macbeth to become greater then he was, by doing whatever it took.

Even with all of these things that others had done, Macbeth was the one to go along with it all. He never once regretted it until after the murder of Duncan; and even then did he go and lie to his companions that there was another murderer in the midst. Macbeth became an unknown threat to himself: committing crimes that can never be forgiven.


The image bellow is called "Dark Thoughts". It is human nature to be curious, but some people just don't know exactly what this curiosity can get them into. Macbeth is a direct mirror to this picture. In the drawing, there is a young boy peering down a stairwell; however, something seems wrong. Although the stairs are dark, almost an infinite chasm, the boy seems interested. The thing is, he doesn't know what's down there. He doesn't even know where "down there" is or leads to. One thing is certain: nothing good can come from it. This is, however, how paradoxes are made: different decisions leading to different timelines. In one timeline, the boy easily discards the stairwell, closes the door, and forgets all about it: however, he could do the complete opposite. The boy throws everything away and lets curiosity take the wheel. He doesn't know where he's going, but the child still heads into the eternal abyss. This image is the symbol for Macbeth's tragic tale. The boy represents Macbeth, as the stairs become all the temptations and sorrows that come his way. Consequently, Macbeth took the second paradox. He went with the flow of destruction as it lead him to the depths beyond reckoning. Although Macbeth received the thrown, he lost his humanity and life altogether.
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Self Destruction

"As great decisions will bring up great thought ,

and thunder may rock the mind into woe,

a hero will shift the kingdom bestow.

While battle for humanity is fought,

His once great soul is the one that is fraught,

and it will fall into the depths below.

For his crimes come with a very high blow,

and with that he lost what cannot be caught."

"Though his mind was caught in the thoughts of greed,

He cowards behind the power of kings,

he sends those to kill and also give heed,

That all those who oppose will die great deaths.

To end the tale of such horrible things,

Macbeth suffered for each treacherous deed."

Malik Cosby

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Literary to the point

In the play of Macbeth, there are many things which are known as "Literary devices".

Here are just a few of them:

  • Tragic Hero: Both Macbeth and Banquo were tragic hero's. Macbeth was once a great hero, but fell into temptation, which lead to his demise:" Our captains, Macbeth... honor.... thou bloodier villain"( Shakespeare 11/179). Banquo was killed after seeing Macbeth's true intentions: "Our captains... Banquo... thou play'dst most foully for it.... one down"( Shakespeare 11/95).

  • Irony: When Macbeth had told Banquo to attend the feast, even though he was planning to have him assassinated:" Fail not our feast.... you know Banquo was your enemy"(Shakespeare 79/85).

  • Symbolism: The dagger in the scene when Macbeth was deciding whether or not to kill Duncan. The blade represented his will to achieve the thrown:" Is this a dagger which I see before me....It is the bloody business which informs thus to mine eyes"(Shakespeare 49/50).