What is a tragedy? According to Aristotle, a tragedy is a genre aimed to present a heightened and harmonious imitation of nature,
and, in particular, those aspects of nature that touch most closely upon human life. He said a tragedy must have six parts: plot,
character, diction, thought, spectacle, and sons (Booth 29). William Shakespeare?s Macbeth, attains these distinctive qualities. The
witches? prophecies, peer pressure to commit murder and fate are all examples of such qualities.
The Tragedy of Macbeth starts with three witches? who tell Macbeth that he will be the Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis, and
King of Scotland. As the play progresses, Macbeth slowly relies on the witches? prophecies. As a result of the prophecies,
Macbeth?s curiosity of how he could be the King of Scotland arouses.
Macbeth?s ambition influenced his declining character. However, Macbeth?s ambition had not been strong enough to carry the
motive to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth?s influence also came in to play because if not for Lady Macbeth, his ambition would not have
been intensified enough to drive him to obtain and maintain his title of King of Scotland no matter what it took, even if it meant
murdering (Sisson 123). At first Macbeth refuses to kill Duncan but, after Lady Macbeth taunts him for his cowardice, he replies,
I dare do all that may become a man;
Who dares do more is none.
After Lady Macbeth taunts Macbeth, he considers murdering Duncan. Her taunts made Macbeth feel less of a man, especially, when
she considers murdering Duncan herself. After awhile of taunting Macbeth was convinced to murder his friend, his king Duncan.
After the murder has been commited, Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth to act like the innocent flower, but be a serpent underneath. She
overcomes for only awhile the moral scruples and terrible visions of her husband (Campbell 211),
A little water clears us of this deed
Macbeth?s first murder was a trying experience for him, however after the first murder, killing seemed to be the only solution to
maintain his reign of the people of Scotland. Macbeth overflowed in power, but yet he felt remoarse for things he had done,
But wherefore could not I pronounce ? AMEN??
I had most need of blessing, and ?AMEN? stuck in my throat
So Macbeth continues-the power of evil feeding on every move he makes-to make for his advancement as prophesied by the
witches?. He hires his men to
eliminate Banquo, a threat to his cumulative reign. Having Banquo out of his way Macbeth surges with the sense of power (Jorgensen
Later on in the play Macbeth returns to the three witches, wanting more information regarding his fate. An apparition appears, of a
head with a helmet on. It warns to beware of Macduff. The Second apparition, a bloody child, gives important information. ? None
of woman born shall harm Macbeth?, with this information on his hands Macbeth considers himself invisible. The third apparition, a
crowned child with a tree, he tells Macbeth tha he will be in no danger until ? Birnam Wood comes to high Dunsinane Hill.? Invisible
power! Macbeth forgets two of the three prophecies and locks one in his head ? none of woman born shall harm Macbeth? (Everret
The witches? have prophesied again, with an unforeseeable truth. With his sense of immortality high in his head Macbeth leaves the
witches?, overtaken by his ambition. Fearing nothing Macbeth begins to ask himself questions, How could Macduff, a man of woman
born, hurt me? How could the Birnam Wood come to Dunsinane Hill?
Having all the confidence in the world, Macbeth continues his harmful ways. At this point his fate acquired complete control over
him, he had found security and trust in something he trusted, the witches? words.
Later in the play while staying in his castle, Macbeth and his army make plans to attack Macduff and his army. Suddenly, a
messenger comes looking for
him. The messenger, unsure of how to report what he saw, says Birnam Wood appeared to move. Macbeth realizes that the first
prophecy is fulfilled.
Macbeth worries that he is stuck fighting by himself after his army is overpowered. He wonders who was not born of a woman.
For the first time in awhile Macbeth shows fear. His army who guarded the castle was slaughtered, his wife committed suicide.
Macbeth gives up the will to live; life signifies nothing:
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, and all our
yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle! Life?s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts
and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Macduff and his army enter the castle, yet Macbeth fears no one born of a woman. Siward appears, Macbeth dressed in his armor
kills him. Then Macduff finds Macbeth, they begin to fight. As the fighting continued they begin to converse, Macbeth tells Macduff
that no man born of a woman shall ever harm him. As the fight continues Macduff reveals that he was ripped from his mother?s
womb while she was dead. Macbeth is now extremely worried, the remaining prophecies have come true. This only provided
Macbeth with false hope. He
wished that he could have lived a normal life, Macbeth says that if he could have lived a normal life, he would have lived an honorable
age. He realizes that he
denied himself this opportunity and that he let his ambition get the best of him. He realizes that he will not be king forever and that
Macduff is preparing to kill him. The witches prophecies
have tricked Macbeth into thinking that he was invisible and that no one could stop him. Macduff kills Macbeth at the bitter end.
The character of Macbeth is a classic example of a Shakespearean tragic hero. It contains all the qualities: use of power in a wrong
way, he is lovable/ respected at the beginning, he goes through many hardships, he learns his lesson the hard way, and finally through
his death peace and tranquillity is restored.
Many deaths and other major events occurred because Macbeth was overwhelmed by his tragic flaw- too much power and the sense
of being unstoppable. The factors that let the prophecies told him by the witches, the influence and manipulation of his wife and
finally his ambition.
The prophecies, which were told by the witches, contributed greatly to the downfall of Macbeth. If it had not been for the witches
telling him the fate that waited for him, Macbeth would have probably lived a normal life. Also, the influence of Lady Macbeth with
her taunts and manipulation she turned Macbeth into a killing Machine.
Another factor that influenced his downfall was his ambition. His ambition led Macbeth to gain greed, violence, and hunger for power
There were in fact some internal conflicts that occurred that were not influenced by anybody, except probably Macbeth?s
conscious. These conflicts made Macbeth lose touch with reality. In act II, scene I when he is deciding whether to kill Duncan or
not, he imagines a dagger before him. This probably encouraged him to the deed, by showing him how. The second internal conflict
Macbeth had was right after he had ordered for Banquo to be killed. Macbeth had a banquet that day, in his chair he sees Banquo?s
ghost. He probably imagined the ghost out of fear, fear he had of what he had done.
Why was is that everything turned the way it did for Macbeth? Why because fate contributed greatly to his downfall. Macbeth tried
to control his fate but no one can change his/her fate. It was written that Macbeth?s fate would turn horribly tragic, and it did. In this
case, the prophecies that the witches? prophesied came true which led Macbeth to his downfall.
Macbeth went from being good to evil, as day changes into night. Through this process Macbeth?s attitude changes towards others:
With Duncan Macbeth?s attitude changes very rapidly, because of his ambition to be king. He went from being loyal and trust worthy
to the king to killing him. One would think that Macbeth would keep his best friend close and confide in him, but Macbeth does not
agree. Instead he senses suspicion on
Banquo?s part, so he orders for him to be killed. A tremendous change of attitude occurred with Lady Macbeth. At the beginning
he showed love and affection
towards her. He would have done anything for her even kill. Towards the end when she commits suicide, Macbeth seems to show no
concern. Macbeth trusted the witches? at the beginning, but towards the end he separates from them once he finds out that even
though he trusted them, what they said was not in his favor.
Therefore the prophecies given to Macbeth by the witches, the peer pressure to commit murder by Lady Macbeth?s influence, and his
intensified ambition to be king, all contributed to his downfall??death. Macbeth started out as a hero, a man of good. But, his
whole attitude changed towards others because of the murders he committed. Through out the play his trust in people he knew
declined dramatically, he stopped trusting and started hating. We all are humans and all humans have at least one flaw, but not
everybody?s flaw is as tragic as Macbeth?s, because his flaw terminated him.