Lady Macbeth

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To what extent is Macbeth responsible for his own downfall?

The tragic downfall of Shakespeare’s Macbeth can be attributed to his forceful ambition which leads him to commit terrible deeds, selfish greed and weakness that allows him to be easily manipulated. These influencing factors are nourished and encouraged by the three witches and the deceitful Lady Macbeth. Macbeth’s actions of murdering innocent children and women and his damning act of genocide show that he is primarily responsible for his own demise. Macbeths ‘ambition which overleaps itself’ leads him to commit heinous crimes that show his depravity and ultimately leads to his downfall. Macbeth lets his ‘ambition’ rule him and his decisions; his ambition comes before everything else. When he hears that Malcolm will be crowned prince of Cumberland he says ‘that is a step which I must fall down or else o’er leap, for in my way it lies’ this suggests that it is just a stepping stone on the way for him to become king. This ambition leads him to kill king Duncan without any real reason ‘I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition’ and this act of genocide results in a downward spiral to his ruin. Macbeth’s selfishness causes him to be demanding with the witch’s supernatural powers and his own authority, when his greed for knowledge leads him to tell the witches to ‘stay you imperfect speakers, tell me more.’ And demand them to speak to him a second time ‘speak I charge you’. The power that he has ‘played most foully for’ allows him to do what he wants as he thinks of it stating ‘the very firstlings of my heart shall be the very firstlings of my hand’. Once Macbeth realises he will be ‘king hereafter ‘ he wants nothing more than to kill king Duncan revealing in a soliloquy ‘stars hide your fires, do not let light see my dark and seep desires’. Once Macbeth gains power he will cease at nothing to guard it, he cannot stop his greed, and he is so caught up in his own...
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