Q: What Are the Reasons for Macbeth’s Downfall as Represented in Shakespeare’s Text and in the Polanski’s Film Version?

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Macbeth’s downfall is essentially caused by his vaulting ambitions and fatal flaw in his personality, while other external factors also contribute to his self-destruction. The witches, Lady Macbeth and fate all contribute to Macbeth’s downfall by fuelling his climbing ambition. This is conveyed through both Shakespeare’s text and Polanksi’s film.

Macbeth’s vaulting ambition and tragic flaw are the principal factors, which lead to his downfall by gradually destroying his conscience and reputation. Macbeth is seen as a noble hero before his ambition takes over, reflected in the hyperboles, “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name – Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like Valour’s minion,…”. This exaggerates and emphasises that Macbeth was well respected, and was depicted as a courageous, valiant and worthy gentleman, before his ambition takes over. Macbeth’s ambitions begin to arise after he is named Thane of Cawdor, reflected in the whispered dialogue of, “Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor The greatest is behind.” It also foreshadows his downfall and is ironic because Thane of Cawdor was guilty of treason and Macbeth eventually becomes a traitor too. His vaulting ambitions are portrayed when Duncan does not name him his heir. This is depicted in the metaphoric notions “Stars, hide your fires, Let not light see my black and deep desires.” It shows that Macbeth has begun to yearn for greater power. Macbeth’s conscience is still in control after Duncan’s murder since he cannot bring himself to return to the scene of the murder and is depicted as feeling excessively guilty of his crime, reflected through the cumulative listing of metaphors of no sleep, “Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care, The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath, Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course…” It emphasises his fear of sleepless nights and having no peace of mind.

However, Macbeth’s vaulting...
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