The rollercoaster begins running in a downward spiral of destruction as Macbethbecomes the King of Scotland. Three witches, the ones who prophesied Macbeth’sbecoming king, have told him of obstructions to his kingly path and, with a little shovefrom his wife, Macbeth begins to do all he can, no matter how treacherous, to preserve histitle. Driven by his ambition, he destroys until he too is destroyed. But what are thefactors which moved Macbeth along that bloody path to his downfall in Shakespeare’sMacbeth and how did they move him? The three witches, his own ambition, and his wifeare the key elements which work together and play upon each other to push Macbeth overthe cliff of demise. The most influential elements are the witches. The three witches are the ones who get things started down a path leading todestruction by playing upon the already ambitious Macbeth.
They first attract his attentionby hailing him Thane of Cawdor, Glamis, and even “King thereafter. ” Once Duncanpromotes him to Thane of Cawdor, he is pulled into the trap. He begins to believe thatperhaps the other predictions may come true after all. Unfortunately for Macbeth, hethinks that the only way he can become king is if he murders the present king. Macbeth,unlike his passive friend Banquo, takes destiny into his own hands early on.
At this point,Macbeth’s conscience begins to bother him that he has actually contemplated killingDuncan. With loyalty still reigning over his actions, Macbeth alone would not be able todo such a task- that is, until his wife steps in. Once she gets him to cross the line, evilbecomes much easier (once one achieves the unspeakable, doing it again isn’t so hard). Later on, after three hired men murder Banquo and his son Fleance escapes, Macbeth hashallucinations in which Banquo visits him.
In this scene, Macbeth reveals someinformation about Duncan’s murder. As a result, others, like Macduff, grow suspicious ofMacbeth’s unconfirmed foul play. Realizing this, Macbeth beseeches the witches so thathe might know what to do in order to retain his kingship. The witches summon threeapparitions to aid with Macbeth’s request, which warn that Macbeth should bewareMacduff, be aggressive since “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth,” and thatMacbeth will never be vanquished until the forests of Birnam Wood move to DunsinaneHill. Following the advice brought forth by the witches, Macbeth immediately send moremercenaries to kill Macduff and all the inhabitants of Fife, who just miss the alreadydeparted Macduff.
As one can see, had it not been for the influence of the witches,Macbeth most likely would never have killed either Duncan or his closest noblemen. Another factor which helped doomed Macbeth down his path of destruction washis own ambition. If one owns a car, a destination (the witches), working parts such as astarter (Lady Macbeth), but no fuel (ambition), how can one get to the destination? It isn’tuntil after Macbeth is enticed by what the witches first prophesied and he commits his firstact of treason as per his wife’s instructions that Macbeth’s ambition begins to get him intotrouble. Earlier, the witches had foretold that Banquo, one of Macbeth’s best friends andnoblemen, would be the father of a long line of kings, meaning that at some point in thenear future Macbeth would be overthrown. Thus, so as to avoid this possibility, Macbethhires three criminals to murder Fleance and Banquo.
Meanwhile, the already crooked kingbegins to suspect Macduff is planning something, but he isn’t sure what. When he goes tothe witches for advice as to what he should do to preserve his kingship, he learns that heshould “Beware Macduff. ” Once again, his ambition pushes him to spill more blood. Unfortunately for Macbeth, he learns that Macduff has fled to England to ask for help inoverthrowing Macbeth. Since Macduff is out of his grasp, he then attacks Macduff’sfamily and servants.
If it weren’t for Macbeth’s ambition to remain king for a long lifetime,he never would have had the drive to carry out his treachery. But even the witches andMacbeth’s own ambition wouldn’t have been enough to have overcome the strong sense ofloyalty to Duncan he possessed– only someone even more dear and convincing couldLady Macbeth, although not the most powerful momentum, is a major factor in thedisaster Macbeth might have called “life. ” Without her obstinance and initiative, Macbethwould have never been able to overcome his conscience and kill his own king, nor anyoneelse. It is ironic that in trying to help Macbeth become the epidemy of success that shereally helps destroy him and any chance he had of living a long, honorable life. Macbeth’s downfall, like any complex system, cannot be contributed to any onegiven factor.
Just as the mind, body and soul collectively create one’s existence, so did thewitches, Macbeth’s ambition, and Lady Macbeth’s initiative destroy Macbeth. Without anyone of these factors, Macbeth most likely would not followed a path of destruction.Bibliography: