What was Macbeth's tragic flaw, how does it lead to his doom, and is it helped along by the ladies of the play?

Macbeth's tragic flaw is his ambition to become king. When the witches first prophesy that Macbeth might take the throne, his fearful reaction shows that he has already been thinking about how badly he wants to do so, and he is startled, and intrigued, to think that it might be possible. This ambition is definitely helped along by Lady Macbeth, who might even crave power more than Macbeth does. Eventually, this ambition, coupled with his wife's encouragement of it, leads Macbeth to embark on a path of murder, first of King Duncan, and then of perceived threats, attaining short, paranoid rule.

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Macbeth's tragic flaw is ambition. Despite being showered by honors and titles by a grateful King Duncan, it's somehow not enough. He wants more, and is prepared to stoop to murder and treachery to get it.

Even so, Macbeth needs a little help to realize his ambitions. When it comes to actually following through, he gets cold feet about murdering Duncan and needs the assistance of his devious wife—who, if anything, is even more ambitious than he—to make it happen. Lady Macbeth cajoles her husband and questions his manhood when it appears that he's not prepared to go through with the murder plot. Had it not been for her, there's every reason to expect that Macbeth would've backed out at the last minute.

The Weird Sisters also play their part in encouraging Macbeth's ambitions. Their prophecies appear to provide a supernatural sanction to Macbeth's base treachery. Over the course of the play, Macbeth becomes so obsessed with the witches ' prophecies that he starts to feel almost invulnerable....

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 807 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 12, 2021