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How Power Leads To Downfall In Macbeth

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Is that how you want to end up? With that being the last thing you feel. Your neck being snapped then your head being put on a stick, celebrated and a sign of victory. Starting as a noble soldier then changing to an over-ambitious leader on a bloody throne. I don’t think so, but who would you blame for ending up like this, for your tragic DOWNFALL?

In Macbeth, a tragedy written by William Shakespeare. Macbeth is shown as a loyal, noble subject to the King of Scotland but as the play progresses his character starts to change drastically. This is due to his fatal flaws, which are his vaulting ambition and high egoistic thoughts including his misguide attempts to control his future. Macbeth continuously falls prey to the illusions and manipulation of the three witches and Lady Macbeth. Despite this, Macbeth is still to an extreme degree responsible for his OWN DOWNFALL.

Macbeth is a tragic hero ruined by his fatal flaw, which is his boisterous ambition that pushes him to an extreme which overpowers and clouds up his better judgment. The 3 witches and their ill-intended prophecies are the first major influence on Macbeth’s actions. They use their magnetic, mysteries and manipulative words to appeal to his deadly and pre-existing ambition, as their first 3 prophecies in Act 1 Scene 3 promised Macbeth power and dominance over everyone. No one becomes a 5-star general for nothing, right? At first, Macbeth doesn’t believe the witches and calls them “Imperfect speakers” this euphuism means “tellers of lies.” But his thoughts differ from what he originally thought as their first prophecy came true. This leads him to blindly trust them with no proof that they have his best interests at heart, even dismissing the powerful metaphors that his BEST FRIEND Banquo said to descried them “The instruments of darkness tell us truths; win us with honest trifles, to betray us in deepest consequence.” Meaning how the witches are NOT TO BE TRUSTED and never mean good which the audience in the Elizabethan era knew that too, further proving how his ambition controls him. Even though everything was prophesied by the witches, Macbeth is the one that became obsessed and revolved his wrongdoings around them. The witches were only the tools of his temptation and it was Macbeth’s roaring ambition that allowed him to be seduced by the witches’ prophecy.

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Macbeth is capable of making his own decisions but allowed his malicious and manipulative mastermind of a

wife, Lady Macbeth to sway him into killing Duncan. Lady Macbeth insults him by using this idiom “too full o’th’ milk of human kindness.” To describe him. This idiom shows how Lady Macbeth perceives Macbeth, she thinks he is weak and doesn’t have the guts to commit a deed so repulsive alone. While she is strong and would “dashed the brains out” of her baby for Macbeth if she promised him. This makes Macbeth feel powerless and downy looked upon and shows how Lady Macbeth guilt’s him into committing this dreadful deed. Yes, Lady Macbeth is a determined and devious wife who has power over Macbeth and knows how to get her way. He still consciously made the choice to kill Duncan, and therefore Lady Macbeth cannot be held accountable for the ill deeds that her husband chose to commit. The spot of blood Lady Macbeth hallucinates about is a symbol of her guilt manifesting itself, showing that even though she tried to rid herself of her emotions and feelings of empathy in this powerful verb “Unsex me here.” She could not live with her conscience like Macbeth did and this drove her to insanity and eventually her suicide leaving Macbeth alone and isolated. Overall, Lady Macbeth only encouraged him, his ambition and need for power did the rest.

Macbeth’s ambition leads him to his gain in power but also leads him to his corruption. Macbeth’s downfall is to a tremendous degree his own fault. Macbeth is the one that picked up the dagger, HE is the one that summed the murders, HE is the one that killed a little boy and his own best friend not the witches nor Lady Macbeth. Macbeth was a flawed leader whose mind was consumed about the thought of falling from the throne as proven when he says “To be thus is nothing, but to be safely thus.” This lead him to the conclusion that he had to kill anyone that treated this spot on the throne. A far cry from the beginning of the play. His downfall is not only through his death but the essence of the man he was, he has now become desensitised and immune to the feeling of lose and pain including the suicide of his OWN wife due to his deeds, which doesn’t bother him or eat away at him at all. In Macbeth’s mind there is no meaning or purpose in life anymore and that everything we do means nothing. This is supported in this heart ranching use of personification in Macbeths last soliloquy “life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player.” Further proving his decline mentally and physically compared to the start of the play due to HIS actions, HIS chooses and ultimately resulting in HIS downfall.

In the end Lady Macbeth and the witches had no direct control over Macbeth’s actions but simply pointed out different paths for him to follow and he freely chose too. Therefore, I strongly believe that it was ultimately Macbeth who chose the path of darkness, murder and deceit. So just remember to not end up like that, with your head on the chopping board in the first place, Macbeth said “blood will have blood.”

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How Power Leads To Downfall In Macbeth. (2021, September 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“How Power Leads To Downfall In Macbeth.” Edubirdie, 30 Sept. 2021,
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How Power Leads To Downfall In Macbeth [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 30 [cited 2023 Sept 28]. Available from:
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