Macbeth's Downfall Essay

1572 words - 6 pages

Macbeth coursework
The play ‘Macbeth’ was first performed in 1606. The play was written by William Shakespeare, an English poet, who is widely regarded as the most influential, prominent writer to live. Shakespeare’s work ranges from romances to tragedies to comedies. Being Shakespeare’s shortest play, the tragedy ‘Macbeth’ almost replicated the events and occurrences that were unfolding in Scotland, during the time it was written. In the play Shakespeare tells the story of how Macbeth, the protagonist, worked his way from being a nobleman to being crowned the king. This path ends in Macbeth’s downfall. Macbeth is influenced by people such as the three witches and his wife but his own greed and yearning for supremacy leads to his inevitable self destruction. Macbeth’s downfall is a result of his excessive ambition and the influence of others, namely the three witches and Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare introduces Macbeth as a noble, brave and loyal Scottish nobleman who courageously battled the Norwegians and Scottish rebels. The captain names the nobleman as ‘brave Macbeth’ and compares Macbeth to ‘Valour’s minion, hinting at Macbeth’s courage. Prior to Macbeth being entitled the ‘Thane of Cawdor,’ he encounters the three witches who prophesise that Macbeth is destined to be ‘Thane of Cawdor’ and eventually King. Macbeth is skeptical about the prophecies but once he is dubbed ‘Thane of Cawdor’ he starts to believe the ‘weird sisters.’ During the seventeenth century, the general consensus was that witchcraft was the blame for all the wrongs in the word as they believed in the paranormal. In the play, Macbeth begins to believe in witchcraft after being skeptical. Macbeth’s insomnia, hallucinations and trances throughout the play were symbols of someone who was possessed. Shakespeare often used rhyme to indicate supernatural beings which explains the rhyming couplets in the weird sisters’ language. The witches’ prophesies not only define Macbeth’s ambitions but Lady Macbeth’s too. Lady Macbeth’s strong and aggressive character portrays Macbeth’s honour and integrity as weaknesses, saying that he ‘wouldst not play false’ meaning he would do no wrong. Lady Macbeth becomes ruthless in her ambitions. She informs Macbeth that he will have to kill King Duncan to take the title of King of Scotland. Macbeth understands that to become King, he would have to commit treason but continues to debate on the decision. Kings were thought to be God’s representatives on Earth so by murdering a King, Macbeth would be committing a crime against God. Such an assassination, especially one executed by a nobleman, was a shocking thought to people during Shakespeare’s era. During Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth mentions that King Duncan is a fair King and that Macbeth should be protecting Duncan, as any host would do and ‘not bear the knife’ himself. Macbeth also comprehends that Duncan’s murder will lead to more bloodshed and...

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