Essay, Research Paper: Macbeth Downfall

Shakespeare: Macbeth

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Throughout the centuries human beings have always had the need to achieve some
things in life such as love, wealth, power or authority. The ambition of Macbeth
was power. Macbeths’ strive for power affects his life in a negative way and
eventually leads to his downfall. Macbeth was a brave soldier of Scotland and
was very loyal to King Duncan. As he returned from a battle with his friend
Banquo three witches hailed him as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor and in the
end King of Scotland. They also told Banquo that his children would become
Kings. This aroused Macbeth’s curiosity of how he could become King. When he
went to the palace and the King announced to him that he would become Thane of
Cawdor because the previous Thane was a traitor. His ambition rised and he
believed that some truth might be hidden in the weird sisters’ words.
Therefore, he wrote a letter to his wife Lady Macbeth telling her what had
happened. When Lady Macbeth read the letter her intention was to talk Macbeth
into killing Duncan. Therefore, she planed the murder. She invited the King to
their house where she planned to have him killed. Macbeth had some hesitations
but she manipulated him into doing it. The murder took place at nighttime and
short after the murder Macbeth felt empowered and thought that nothing could
stop him. Duncan’s sons Malcom and Donalbain fled the country and one went to
England and the other to Ireland. Macbeth asked for the witches advice and they
told him that no woman born man could kill him and that only when Birnam Wood
came up to the castle would he lose his power. In order to maintain his power
Macbeth hired three murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance but they only
managed to kill Banquo whereas Fleance escaped. Macbeth also killed Macduffs
wife and son because according to him Macduff was a traitor. In the meantime,
Malcom and Macduff were gathering an army in order to overthrow Macbeth. After
the witches words Macbeth felt invincible whereas Lady Macbeth died, probably of
guilt. In the end of the play, the army disguised itself with branches from the
Birnam wood and marched to the castle where Macduff, who was ripped from his
mother’s womb, killed Macbeth and Malcom became King. In the beginning of the
play, Macbeth is regarded as a good man and a brave soldier. When he comes back
from the battle, the Captain described Macbeth's honor and bravery to King
Duncan in Act I, scene 2. "For brave Macbeth-well he deserves that
name-Disdaining fortune, with his brandish'd steel, Which smoked with bloody
execution, Like valour's minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave,
Which ne’er shook hands nor bade farewell to him Till he unseamed him from the
nave to th’ chops, And fixed his head upon our battlements”(Act 1, scene 2,
line16-23). This shows that people, including the King trusted Macbeth and
considered him as a brave, just, and honest soldier who loved his country.
However, his character changes throughout the play in a negative way. In the
beginning of the play, Macbeth appears to be happy and content as Thane of
Glamis until he hears the witches prophesies. His ambition is reinforced when he
is made Thane of Cawdor and he starts considering murdering King Duncan. He
immediately writes to his wife in order to consult her. When Lady Macbeth reads
the letter, we can understand that she considers Macbeth as too kind and soft to
murder the King. As she says: ‘ Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o’
the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way.’(Act 1, Scene 5, line
13-15) This shows that in the beginning Macbeth was considered as to soft to
commit this kind of crime. So, she talks him into her plan and they invite
Duncan over for a banquet. Still, Macbeth has some reservations about the
murder. As he says to his wife: ‘He is here in double trust: First, as I am
his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then, as his host,
Who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself.’
Also, towards the end of Act 1, Scene 3, speaking to Banquo, he thinks that
perhaps he doesn't need to do anything to become king: "If chance will have
me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir." (Act 1, Scene 3, line
145-146) This shows that he still had some signs of kindness in his heart and
knows to tell good from bad. We can also see that Macbeth was not a very strong
character because he immediately fell for what Lady Macbeth’s words when she
said that if he did not do it he didn’t love her and that he was a coward.
Before Macbeth was about to murder the king, he saw a dagger floating in the
air. He was not able to decide whether he was imagining it or not, however, he
finally went through with killing the king. This shows that he still had some
hesitations and guilt about what he was about to do. However, after he committed
the murder the feelings of guilt did not leave Macbeth. When Lady Macbeth tells
him to clean his hands from the blood, he replies: ‘To know my deed, ’twere
best not know myself. Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou
couldst.’(2,2,77-78) After it was found out that the king had been murdered,
Macbeth was crowned as king because the two sons of Duncan had fled the country.
This was the peak of Macbeth’s life but also the beginning of his downfall and
his insanity. After a while, Macbeth felt empowered and he was determined to
maintain his title of King of Scotland, whatever it took. Furthermore, in order
to accomplish this, the only solution seemed to be murder. At this point, his
insanity begins and he acts ruthlessly. Macbeth was aware that the only person
who knew about the witches prophecies, was his once friend Banquo. In addition,
when Banquo had asked the weird sisters what would happen to him in the future
they answered with the words: ‘Lesser than Macbeth, and greater’, ‘Not so
happy, yet much happier’, ‘Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. So all
hail, Macbeth and Banquo’ (Act 1, scene 3, line 65-69). To Macbeth this meant
that Banquo’s sons would become kings, not his. As Macbeth says later: ‘
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown, And put a barren sceptre in my
gripe, Thence to be wrench’d with a unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding
(act 3, scene 1, 57-56). At this point Macbeth realized that the only way to
keep the crown was by murdering people. So, he hired three murderers and ordered
them to kill Banquo and his son Fleance. Banquo was murdered but his son Fleance
escaped. At a dinner banquet at their house, Macbeth started going even more
insane and he saw a ghost of Banquo, which started talking to him. He replied to
the apparition and Lady Macbeth covered up for him by saying that he had some
kind of mental illness and excused the guests. Macbeth also noticed that Macduff,
the Thane of Fife did not attend the feast and was suspicious of him. After all
these happenings, Macbeth felt that he should consult the witches in order to
see how he would keep his crown. At this point of the play, Macbeth had become
so heartless and ruthless that even the weird sisters characterized him as
wicked. When Macbeth knocks on the witches door one of them said: ‘By the
pricking of my thumbs, Something wicked this way comes…’ (Act 4, Scene1,
line 44-45). When Macbeth entered and asked them what he should do, three
apparitions appeared and told him three things. To be aware of Macduff, that
none of woman borne can harm him and that he would be king until Birnam Wood
came to Dunsinane Hill. This made Macbeth feel invincible and made him even more
evil. He immediately ordered to have Macduff and his family murdered without
knowing that Macduff had escaped to England. Therefore, the murderers killed
only his family. In the meanwhile, Malcom and Macduff had been gathering an army
in order to overthrow their evil ruler, Macbeth. At Dunsinane Castle, a doctor
informed Macbeth that his wife was sick and that there was no cure for that kind
of sickness. This made Macbeth even more miserable and he ordered the doctor to
cure her whatever it took. Then, he was told that an army from England was
coming in order to overthrow him. He put his armor on and at the same time, he
was informed that his wife was death. At this point, we see for once more how
heartless he had become. He showed no interest in the death of his wife and the
only thing he cared about was how he could win the battle and remain king.
Suddenly, a servant told him that Birnam Wood was moving towards the castle.
This was because Malcom ordered the soldiers to disguise themselves with
branches and leaves. In spite of these facts, Macbeth continued to feel
confident and invincible because as the apparition said no woman born man could
kill him. The army arrived and Macbeth attacked and killed young Siward while
Macduff was looking for him. Macduff found him and they started fighting while
Macbeth boasted that no woman born man could kill him. Macduff replied that he
was ripped by his mothers womb and then killed him. Macbeth stood up for himself
until the last minute and did not surrender himself. ‘I will not yield to kiss
the ground before young Malcom’s feet…’ (Act 5, Scene8, line28-29) This
shows that he preferred to die than surrender. After this, Macduff exited the
castle with Macbeth’s head and Malcom was crowned king.

BibliographyPurves Alan, Carol Olson, C. Cortez. (eds). Literature and Integrated
Studies: English Literature. Illinois: Scott Foresman, 1997.
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