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The tragic downfall of Macbeth was not determined by one single cause. It was rather caused by a combination of three dark forces: supernatural, external, and internal. Supernatural forces are represented by the three witches and dark powers behind them. Lady Macbeth is an outer force that pushes Macbeth towards the bloody deeds. Macbeth’s own ambition acts as deciding power in brining him to his downfall.

The very beginning of the play indicates that dark supernatural forces will be involved. Three weird sisters are preparing a surprise for Macbeth, surprise that will eventually cost him life and the salvation of his soul. Witches’ predictions play very important role in leading Macbeth to the evil deeds. Witches are the first to unleash Macbeth’s “black and deep desires” by promising him crown in the near future. They trick Macbeth making him to believe that he was fated to be king by promising him the title of thane of Cawdor and fulfilling this promise. After this almost impossible prediction becomes true Macbeth decides that he should become king as well. His royal dreams and ambition begin to take over his good side. He is convinced that “Two truths were told/As happy prologues to the swelling act/Of the imperial theme.” The dark forces “win him with honest trifles to betray in deepest consequence.” Not only they make Macbeth thinking about murdering Duncan; they also bring him to the decision to kill Banquo and his son by saying that Banquo’s children will be kings. Throughout the whole play dark supernatural powers trick and deceive Macbeth. In Act IV the apparitions playing with words convince him to continue to walk along the bloody path by advising him to be “bloody, bold, and resolute” and to “have no fear.” These predictions give Macbeth confidence to murder more victims, so that he has got absolutely no hope left for retaining any virtues and opportunity of remedy.

After the witches awaken Macbeth’s desires of becoming king, his wife begins to push Macbeth towards the real act of murdering Duncan. Lady Macbeth thinks she knows exactly what Macbeth wants–becoming a king–and decides that she has to force her husband to do what he would never do without her support–to kill Duncan. She never really tries to gain much for herself and never mentions that she wants to be queen. She wants Macbeth to be king; she wants glory for him, not for herself. Lady Macbeth acts like a mother who forces her silly child to do the homework he doesn’t want to do because she wants him to be successful in his life. She never questions the necessity of Macbeth becoming king and never pays attention to Macbeth’s thoughts and opinion, just as mother would never care about her son’s opinion about the ’stupid’ homework. Macbeth’s decision to “proceed no further in this business” (I.vii) was not even considered as a possible outcome by her. Lady Macbeth uses all the methods she can to convince her husband to murder Duncan. She uses Macbeth’s love to her as an instrument saying that if he will not kill the king he really doesn’t love her. She asks him if he is a man, tells him that he will be “so much more a man” after murdering Duncan. She gives Macbeth an example of how resolute and cruel he should be telling him that she–woman who is supposed to be kind and compassionate–would be able to kill her own child:

I would, while it [baby] was smiling in my face,

Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums,

And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn

As you have done to this.

(I.vii.61-64)

Lady Macbeth used the Macbeth’s feelings towards her, his bravery, his ambitious nature, his vague desires as tools to make Macbeth to do what she thinks will bring him success and satisfaction.

Witches and Lady Macbeth definitely tried to force Macbeth to kill Duncan and to continue the sequence of terrible murders. However, Macbeth was not a weak-willed puppet that others could easily control. He was a brave and strong man who could resist outside influences and make his own decision. Why did he allow his wife and witches to convince him to do what he thought was wrong to thing to do? The answer is that he wanted to be convinced. In fact, Macbeth began to think about becoming king even before he met the witches. This explains his strange reaction after he have heared the witches’ prophecies. Banquo noted with surprise:

Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear

Things that do sound so fair?

Macbeth is afraid and feels guilty after he receives great predictions of becoming thane of Cawdor and king! The only explanation is that witches guess his own thoughts and catch him thinking about such an evil thing as killing Duncan. Another evidence to support the idea that Macbeth wanted to murder Duncan is the reaction of Lady Macbeth after she reads Macbeth’s letter. Her thoughts immediately jump to murder, even though murder was not even mentioned anywhere in the letter. It seems that Macbeth had been cherishing the idea of murdering Duncan for a long time and discussed it with Lady Macbeth many times. In their dialog in I.v neither lady Macbeth nor Macbeth himself mentions the word ‘murder’. The only hint that Duncan will never leave the castle alive is given in the following lines:

MACBETH

My dearest love,

Duncan comes here to-night.

LADY MACBETH

And when goes hence?

MACBETH

To-morrow, as he purposes.

LADY MACBETH

O, never

Shall sun that morrow see!

If Macbeth were an innocent lamb before witches and Lady Macbeth have turned him to a ruthless criminal, he wouldn’t understand what Lady Macbeth was talking about. However, because his dark side had begun to fight with the good side even before the beginning of the play, he gets instantly what his wife’s plans are. He still has doubts, but he wants to believe that he is fated to be king. He wants to get support and advice for murdering Duncan from both witches and Lady Macbeth and gets them. Macbeth needs this push from the external forces to suppress his conscience and begin committing bloody crimes. After the evil side of Macbeth’s character receives help from the witches and Lady Macbeth it completely takes over his good side and can now act by itself with no help from the outside. Macbeth next murder after killing Duncan and grooms–murder of Banquo–is never advised by the weird sisters or supported by his wife. There is absolutely no reason of murdering Macduff’s family.

In conclusion, even though Lady Macbeth and the witches played an important role in convincing Macbeth to kill Duncan, internal force was the most important of all three. It was Macbeth who agreed with them, Macbeth who committed the murder, Macbeth who decided to continue walking along the bloody path. However, it’s very unlikely that all the events in the play would have happened, if there had not been help given by the witches and Macbeth’s wife. The fatal combination of the three combined forces produced the tragic result.


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