Although Macbeth is ultimately responsible for his fall from greatness, the witches’ prophecies and Lady Macbeth’s manipulation assist in his downfall in Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth.
The ultimate downfall of Macbeth would not take place without the initial prophecies of the witches. His demise is outlined in the suggestive words of the witches when they first meet. They entertain the prophecy that Macbeth “shalt be king hereafter!” (I,iii,54). The success of the first two prophecies of becoming the Thane of Glamis and Cawdor raises ambition for the last to be fulfilled. In foretelling that Macbeth will take over as the king of Scotland, the witches lead him to assume murder as the only way to fulfill the prophecy. Macbeth begins to convince himself that "if chance will have [him] king, why chance may crown [him] without [his] stir." (I,iii,154-156). Reluctant as Macbeth appears to be he later reveals that he “dares do all that may become a man.” (I,vii,51), even if it means murdering the King. Determined to fulfill what the witches told him, Macbeth is willing to sacrifice his loyalty in exchange for power, unaware of the outcomes of his actions.
Lady Macbeth, along with her overbearing nature and manipulation, leads Macbeth closer and closer to his demise. Her selfish desire to attain power through her husband manifests itself by means of constant persuasion and belittlement. From the moment she receives news of the prophecy the witches informed Macbeth of, she is quick to calculate a plan. Already, she reveals her manipulative character saying, “I may pour my spirits in thine ear.” (I,v,26). Lady Macbeth makes it clear that her possession of power will ultimately pave the road for her husband’s fall. She obliges Macbeth to murder King Duncan, telling him to “look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t.” (I,vi,76-77). Lady Macbeth makes her husband seem less of a man due to his initial reluctance to undergo her plans. She belittles him...
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