Macbeth's Downfall

What causes the downfall of Macbeth?

Macbeth's downfall is caused by his ambition and overconfidence. When he hears the witches' prophecies, his ambition and overconfidence lead him to make unwise choices, murder the king and others, and ultimately lose his humanity.

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Macbeth, after killing Duncan and seizing power in Scotland, becomes a bloodthirsty tyrant, gripped in megalomania. From this respect, much of his downfall was self-inflicted. At the same time, however, it is also worth questioning the degree to which, once he had started down this brutal path, he would have had much agency to avert his end.

One of the key questions underlying Macbeth involves the idea of fate. You can see this theme of destiny incarnated in the image of the witches, who, along with foretelling Macbeth's rise to power, also foretell the specific conditions that will spell Macbeth's defeat. Perhaps even more striking is their prediction to Banquo, an ancestor to Shakespeare's own Stuart patron, King James I. Given the play's themes of prophesy, and the specificity of some of these predictions, one could argue that Macbeth himself, after seizing power and usurping the throne, was actually fated to meet a brutal end.

Ultimately, when reading Macbeth's murder of Duncan and...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 892 words.)

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