Who caused the downfall of Macbeth? Macbeth himself, Lady Macbeth, or the 3 witches?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare intended Macbeth to be a tragic hero who had only one flaw in his character. This meant passing some of the blame onto Lady Macbeth and the Three Witches. No doubt Macbeth would not have acted as he did if it hadn’t been for the goading and manipulation of his wife and the false prophecies of the Weird Sisters, but Macbeth himself brought about his own downfall by being so gullible and by committing atrocities of his own invention and on his own initiative. He had more than one tragic flaw. He was ambitious, but he was also weak, gullible, uxorious, deceitful, cruel, reckless, and incompetent. His downfall was largely due to his misrule of his kingdom. If he had retained the loyalty of all the thanes, he might have been invulnerable. Lady Macbeth was certainly instrumental in the murder of King Duncan, but she drops out of sight after Act 3, Scene 4, in which Banquo’s ghost appears, and she is only shown in the sleepwalking scene in Act 5, Scene 1 because she is too important a character to be entirely forgotten. Macbeth was his own worst enemy.