The Destruction of Macbeth

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At some point in the life of every individual, certain events and changes occur that shape the person into how they will behave and appear in the future. The life of an individual either starts to blossom with opportunity or starts going through a consistent downward spiral. How does it work out perfectly for some and go wrong for others? Macbeth is a prime example of how one decision can alter life forever. As Macbeth tries to successfully pursue his prophecies, his mind and body slowly deteriorate until he has nothing left to live for. Tillyard once explained that the human mind works through reason, will, and passion (Tillyard-The Elizabethan World Picture). These ideas are somewhat parallel to Macbeth's actions. Once he begins feeling guilty of his actions, fearful of being caught, and driven to have total control, the motives of his mind are gradually moving from being thought out with reason, to will, and finally to passion. As Macbeth makes his descent into death, his passion to be king gradually takes control his whole being. At the lowest point of his existence there is no reason left inside him. His mind is so busy and crazy that he no longer has the ability to make thoughtful and insightful decisions. He goes from being a loyal and careful servant to a deceitful and scattered ruler.

Macbeth's path into insanity begins when Macbeth first hears the witches refer to him as the thane of Cawdor and reveal that he will be the king (1.3.51-53). The prediction makes no sense to him and the thought that Duncan would no longer be king leaves him completely confused and fearful of the future. When he does become the thane of Cawdor, however, he immediately wonders if his prediction could really speak the truth. Macbeth imagines the King being murdered and himself becoming king but immediately shows regret and tries to forget ever thinking such an absurd scene (1.3.164). His regret for imagining this along with logic and reason force him to decide that if the prophecies are meant to happen they will whether he gets involved or not: "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,/Without my stir"(1.3.155-156). Macbeth convinces himself that he will not interfere with the predictions at all. Despite his good intentions, when Duncan crowns Malcolm as the Prince of Cumberland, giving him the title of future king, Macbeth acknowledges that this is an obstacle that interferes with his prophecy of being king: "The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step/On which I must fall down, or else o'er-leap,/For in my way it lies" (1.4.55-57). This is the first sign of ambition in Macbeth. Although he is still very honest and rational, his spontaneous feelings and wants are beginning to show. Macbeth's feelings of reason, will, and passion are in no danger yet, however they are beginning to be unbalanced. Macbeth's guilty feelings are a way for him to cover up what is really going on inside his head. His thoughts of being king are only in his head and are therefore no a threat to his surrounding society. It all changes when Macbeth makes the mistake of taking the advice of his power-seeking wife --bringing his thoughts to life-- and actually kills the King (1.7.65-79). Not only must he deal with his guilt, but he also has to prepare for getting caught. His actions prove that it is more then Macbeth can handle.

Immediately after Macbeth kills Duncan he puts on an act so no one will suspect him. In his mind everyone suspects him and he has to eliminate anyone who has the ability to reveal what he has done. Macbeth believes that the king's guards saw him kill Duncan and as a result must die. To cover up this horrid act of murder he allows others to think that the guards are probably the ones who killed the king (2.3.115-121). If others believe that the guards killed Duncan, then Macbeth is justified in murdering them and as a result is learning that he can get away with murder. Suddenly, he realizes that if he cannot get away with...
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