Factors that Cause Macbeth’s Downfall

Subject: 📚 Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 789
Topics: Macbeth, 📗 Book
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The play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare informs the public about the beginning and end of a tyrant who gains and then loses all of his power. It can be claimed, however, that the fault is not only Macbeth’s, as the witches and Lady Macbeth have also played an essential role in the character’s downfall.

Words Describing Macbeth’s Downfall

Macbeth’s downfall is shown through various techniques, including symbolism, metaphors, and the use of dialogue. When Macbeth’s wife receives the letter from the protagonist, she begins plotting the death of the current king, Duncan. It continues with Lady Macbeth pushing Macbeth to gain the power and influence associated with the status of king and queen of Scotland. Lady Macbeth even sees her husband as someone too soft, which is proved by the following quote: “too full of the milk of human kindness.”

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This metaphor refers to the milk a baby drinks when it is pure and needs protection. When the woman compares Macbeth’s innocence to a baby, she finds new ways to insult the man. His softness and vulnerability motivate her to provoke Macbeth to kill Duncan, mostly to prove that he actually can. She achieves this by scorning him and looking down upon his manhood. However, in a way, this is not such a difficult task to accomplish since Macbeth also wants the king’s throne deep down inside. His ambition can be seen when Duncan names Malcolm Prince of Cumberland instead of Macbeth. It shows his obsession with gaining power and convinces the audience that Lady Macbeth has misjudged her husband.

Influence of the Witches

Even though Lady Macbeth greatly influences Macbeth’s downfall, the witches are essential to the story’s outcome. Without the witches, the play may not have had enough action. The witches are seen at the very opening of the story, and it is they who begin the play’s narrative.

Without them setting Macbeth up for this plan, Macbeth may have stayed loyal to King Duncan like he was before. Before the witches came, Duncan always adored and trusted Macbeth, and that feeling was mutual. As shown by the quote: “his great office…”, the character could have continued being the brave warrior in battle he was first depicted to be. At the same time, the witches caused the mayhem, which started with Macbeth murdering Duncan and lasted until Macbeth’s downfall.

The witches presumably wanted to see whether Macbeth would use their prophecy to achieve success and power no matter what. From here, the contrast between Macbeth’s character and Banquo’s is not too hard to notice. The audience vividly sees that Banquo would instead let it come as opposed to murdering anyone to make the prophecy come true.

How Macbeth Contributed to His Downfall

Macbeth, on the other hand, is different. At the very beginning, when the witches mention the prediction for the first time, the reader senses that the protagonist is intrigued. Yet he is doubtful whether to act on it or even believe the witches’ words. He doubts the witches, but when Ross arrives and shares that he is the new Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth begins to consider what he was told and think of his next steps.

It is when Macbeth falls as he overthinks what the witches are telling him. The witches seem to represent evil, yet they are not portrayed as villains in this story. It happens because throughout the play, they, along with Macbeth’s ambition and Lady Macbeth’s actions, drive the play. When Macbeth first sees the witches, he claims, “what foul creatures…such that rags look like hair…”. The audience instantly presents a visual of messy, old hags with nothing better to do. They symbolize fate and predictions but are never shown in a good light.

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When the main character visits the witches in their cave, the reader gets to know the whole ‘witchcraft’ as the description of cauldrons, burnings, and hallucinations enter the play. In a sense, the cave seems to show the loneliness and emptiness of the witches.

When he visits the cave, he understands different things happening, such as Macduff being a threat and that once Birnam Wood makes a step, Macbeth is condemned. Furthermore, we see that Macbeth is falling apart and simply can not stop.


All in all, we can see that the witches and Lady Macbeth played essential roles in the man’s downfall. However, we cannot summarize that only these characters should be held accountable, as Macbeth’s ambition and violent actions led to his tragic death.

Shakespeare’s imagery, symbolism, and dialogue help the audience understand that nothing can be blamed on one person, as there always is influence from others. When someone is committing wrongdoings, there may be a lot of other actors influencing it.

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