Macbeth - Downfall of a Hero

Macbeth?s strive for power affects every aspect of his life, and this motivation eventually leads to his demise. Many different factors play a pivotal role in deciding his ill-fated future. With his wife?s cajoling, and the three witches? foretelling of his future Macbeth, will stop at nothing to gain position as King of Scotland.

The witches and their prophecies are the first major influence on Macbeth?s actions. Macbeth, Thane of Glamis is content with his position, until the three witches tell him, "hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor, thou shalt be King hereafter." (I, iii.). After hearing this, Macbeth and Banquo, his loyal friend, find out that King Duncan has named Macbeth "Thane of Cawdor." They contemplate about how the rest of the prophecy will come true. The witches also advise them that Banquo?s son would be King one day. Macbeth writes a letter to Lady Macbeth explaining what has happened.

Macbeth comes to the realization that for him to in fact become King, he will have to defeat recently named heir to the throne, Malcolm, the King?s son, and also prevent Banqou?s son from gaining access to the throne. Macbeth returns home and he and his wife must play host to the King. Lady Macbeth begins to contemplate what "impedes thee from the golden round" (I, v). She desperately wants her Macbeth to be King and she calls upon the "aids of sprits"(I, v) to help her in her quest for the throne.

Lady Macbeth requests that the, "sprits that tend on mortal thoughts," to unsex her, and fill her with the "direst cruelty?" (I, v.). The supernatural world will aid her in the hardening of her heart and make it possible for her to carry out her malicious plan. Lady Macbeth wishes to throw out her morality for the sake of gaining a title. With the help of invisible sprits, she wants to make herself able to commit a heinous act of murder to make her dreams of the royal life come true, without having reservations or remorse. She approaches Macbeth with her intent to kill King Duncan. Macbeth, although wanting the prophecy to come true, and become king, lacks the enthusiasm as his wife does, to commit the murder. Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to act on his desires or he will think of himself as a coward.

King Duncan is invited to Macbeth?s castle, and it is there that he will be killed. Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to "look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it." (I, v). Lady Macbeth wants Macbeth to act as he normally would, to appear to be happy with the King?s visit and keep his malevolent plan in the confines of his mind. Macbeth still has reservations but, Lady Macbeth has already taken preparations towards the evil act, and his mind begins to wander. Macbeth shows signs of insanity, as he follows a dagger up stairs to King Duncan?s bedroom, "is this a dagger which I see before me, let me clutch thee." (II, i) He chases it and King Duncan?s reign as King of Scotland ends. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth the "deed is done." (II, ii)

Macduff, Macbeth?s once friend refuses to attend Macbeth?s coronation to be King of Scotland. Macduff feels uneasy about the circumstances surrounding the king?s murder, and Macbeth?s rise to power. Banquo feels that Macbeth may have had something more to do with the murder as a result of trying to fulfill the prediction.

After he is named king, Macbeth?s misery and eventual downfall is caused by his own insecurities and misguided determination to take control of his future. The witches? prophecy concerning Banquo?s descendant?s and Macbeth?s feeling of inferiority to Banquo lead Macbeth to arrange for the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance. Having Banquo around reminds Macbeth of the evil deed that he had committed. Also, the thought that it will be Banquo?s son to take over the thrown from Macbeth rather than his own children makes him very angry. Macbeth believes that "none but he [Banquo]?I do fear." (III, I)

At a banquet, Macbeth sees an apparition of Banquo and speaks to him amongst his guests. Lady Macbeth makes light of the situation and asks that her guests leave and that Macbeth retire to his room. Macduff does not attend the feast and this sparks suspicion in Macbeth, he wishes