Top-Rated Free Essay

The Witches and Lady Macbeth Are Largely Responsible for Macbeth’s Downfall

Good Essays
Topics: Macbeth
The witches and Lady Macbeth are largely responsible for Macbeth’s downfall

The play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare depicts the beginning and end of a tyrant who loses his strength of will. It can be said however that the fault is not Macbeth’s alone as the witches and Lady Macbeth were partly responsible for Macbeth’s downfall. This can be shown through a variety of techniques such as symbolism, metaphors and the use of dialogue.

The moment Lady Macbeth receives the letter from her husband, she begins plotting the death of the current king, Duncan. This then leads to Lady Macbeth provoking Macbeth to gain the power, influence and status of king and queen. Lady Macbeth believes that Macbeth is too soft, which can be seen by the use of the metaphor, “too full of the milk of human kindness” (Act I, scene VII). This metaphor refers to the milk a baby drinks when it is young and innocent; thus Lady Macbeth compares Macbeth’s innocence to that of a baby. Because of his softness, she finds that she has to provoke him into agreeing on the murder of Duncan through manipulation. She does this by cajoling, by scorning him and by looking down upon his manhood. However, in a way, this is not that difficult a task since Macbeth himself wants the position of king deep down inside. His ambition can be seen in the use of the aside when Duncan names Malcolm Prince of Cumberland. This shows his determination and the audience can see that Lady Macbeth has somewhat underestimated her husband.

Despite the fact that Lady Macbeth plays a part in Macbeth’s downfall, the witches are also an important factor. It can be said that without the witches the play may not continue or even be created. The witches are seen at the very beginning of the play and it is them who begin the play’s momentum. Without them putting the idea across to Macbeth it is most possible that Macbeth may have remained loyal to Duncan. Before the witches approached Macbeth, he had always been Duncan’s trusty subject and Macbeth had admired him. “his great office…” showed that he may have continued being the brave soldier in battle that he was first depicted to be.

At the same time, the witches had probably caused the havoc; which started when Macbeth murdered Duncan up until Macbeth’s downfall. The witches probably wanted to see whether Macbeth would heed their prophecy of him being Thane of Cawdor and then king or see whether he would just let it come. From here, the contrast between Macbeth’s nature and Banquo’s is astounding, the audience can see that Banquo would rather let it come as opposed to murdering anyone to get the prophecy to come true. Macbeth, on the other hand is different. At the very beginning when the witches first mention the prophecy the audience can see that he wants to know more as he goes after them but doesn’t entirely believe it to be true. He doubts the witches but when Ross arrives and tells him that he is now the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth begins to gradually believe the witches more and more. This is when Macbeth falls as he puts in too much thought of what the witches are telling him.

The witches themselves seem to symbolize evil, yet they are not portrayed as the villains. This is because in the play, they, along with Macbeth’s ambition and at the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth’s ambition and determination, drive the play. When the witches were first seen by Macbeth he claims “what foul creatures…such that rags look like hair…” (Act I, Scene III) the audience is immediately given an image of unkempt, old hags who have nothing better to do. They symbolize fate and prophecies but are not shown in a good light. When Macbeth visits them in their cave, the audience is shown their full extent of ‘witchcraft’ as the image of cauldrons, burnings and hallucinations are portrayed. In a sense, the cave itself seems to show the loneliness and emptiness of the witches. Once he visits the cave, he is shown many things, namely that Macduff is a threat and that once Birnam Wood moves, Macbeth is doomed. From here, it can be seen that he is falling, falling and will not stop as everything has been set in motion.

Thus we can see that the witches and Lady Macbeth were important factors and responsible for the downfall of Macbeth. However, it cannot be said that they alone were responsible for his downfall as Macbeth’s own ambition and actions led to his tragic fall. The use of imagery, symbolism and dialogue (asides) helped the audience to realize that nothing can be pinpointed to one person. That, when someone is at fault, there may be a lot of other forces behind it. Such was like that in Macbeth, where various people influenced him; the witches, his own wife, that the audience can see why he did what he did.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Moreover, besides the "wired sisters", Lady Macbeth is patently viewed as a significant affect to the actions of Macbeth. As Macbeth's wife, she has a strong impact to contribute to Macbeth's downfall. She is more relentless as well as more ambitious than her husband, immediately conceives the horrible idea of murdering her royal guest. She encourages Macbeth, to betray his will with the most merciless determination(). In order to assist her husband to gets what is foretold to him, she commits the…

    • 855 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Macbeth by William Shakespeare is a play that portrays Macbeth, who is an ambitious character, being manipulated and motivated by female powers. Macbeth is initially depicted as a brave and capable warrior but his physical courage is joined by a consuming ambition- to become King of Scotland. It was his encounter with the witches, or otherwise referred to as the "weird sisters", that motivated and inspired Macbeth to murder Duncan and therefore become the King of Scotland. However, it was mainly…

    • 906 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Lady Macbeth is responsible for Macbeth’s downfall Lady Macbeth is shown early as an ambitious woman who can manipulate Macbeth easily. It is shown in the line "That I may pour my spirits in thine ear" Act 1 Scene 5. She manipulates his self-esteem by playing with his manliness and his bravery. (Act 1 scene 5 lines 16-18) “yet do I fear thy nature, It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way” You are too full of the milk of human kindness…

    • 360 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Lady Macbeth's Downfall

    • 750 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Lady Macbeth’s character has awed audiences of many generations. She may be the most famous actress ever written by Shakespeare. Literary critic, Dieter Mehl said, in response to Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, “In spite of all the dramatic energy of Lady Macbeth’s character, which has made her part of one of the most famous and most effective actress’s roles in all the tragedies, she is, in comparison to the protagonist, not a very complex character. What makes her so fascinating to the audience is…

    • 750 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Lady Macbeth's Downfall

    • 1180 Words
    • 5 Pages

    excessive daytime sleepiness, hallucinations, sleepwalking, and many other dangerous symptoms. These characteristics match that of Lady MacBeth from William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of MacBeth. In the play, the…

    • 1180 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    In the play of Macbeth there are many contributions to what happens and when it happens, but the witches are most to blame for Macbeth's downfall. The play starts of with the witches saying "When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain (I.i.1-2)" the number three is commonly used in Shakespeare to symbolize something supernatural. Although towards the end of the play Macbeth is going solely off of what he wants to do. The witches were attempting to make mayhem by forecasting…

    • 236 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    encouragement of the witches and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth is entirely accountable for his downfall. Throughout the play, Macbeth, Macbeth is a tragic hero who abolishes himself by his own wicked and selfish determinations. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a brave, noble hero of Scotland who has fearlessly won the war. As the story progresses, Macbeth soon becomes a tyrant king who is willing to kill anyone who becomes a danger to his kingdom. Although Macbeth is influenced by a number…

    • 938 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    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…

    • 704 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Lady Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous and frightening female characters. When we first see her, she is already plotting Duncan’s murder, and she is stronger, more ruthless, and more ambitious than her husband. She seems fully aware of this and knows that she will have to push Macbeth into committing murder.This theme of the relationship between gender and power is key to Lady Macbeth’s character.Lady Macbeth and also the witches are crafty women,who use female methods of achieving power—that…

    • 757 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Lady Macbeths Downfall

    • 988 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Macbeth is first introduced as a courageous warrior who is defending his country against the Norwegians. Also he is well trusted by his soldiers, and a noble kinsman to King Duncan. How can a man of this status become a tyrannical ruler and a ruthless killer? The answer to this simple question is ambition that is awakened by the witches’ prophecies. Lady Macbeth is also an essential part in Macbeth’s downfall. She pushes him to his mental breaking point, beyond the degree of insanity just for power…

    • 988 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays