Macbeth is a famous tragic play written by William Shakespeare, a well-known English poet and an Elizabethan playwright, in the 1500’s. Macbeth tells about the downfall of a war hero who chose an evil path to achieve his ambition. Therefore, Macbeth is responsible for his own downfall. Although some may argue that he was influenced by the witches and his wife, Lady Macbeth, however it is his choice to act upon those suggestions, which he eventually did. So, Macbeth is totally responsible for his own downfall.
Throughout the play, the witches have played a very significant role of influencing Macbeth to think and act evilly. Initially, Macbeth was a good man, a good soldier who is fiercely loyal to King Duncan and to his country, Scotland. In fact, he is a valiant warrior against who fought courageously against the Norwegian forces, where he was praised as “brave”, “noble” and a “peerless kinsman”. But the witches, through prophecy, plant a seed in his mind that appeal to Macbeth’s superstitions and ambition to be king, “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis… Thane of Cawdor… that shalt be king hereafter”.
These prophecies then provoked evil thoughts inside Macbeth’s mind. After Macbeth was told by Ross that Duncan had praised him with the title “Thane of Cawdor”, visions of murdering Duncan began to appear in his mind, “my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man that function is smothered in surmise, and nothing is, but what is not”. Other horror thoughts includes, “this is a step on which I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies”.
After Duncan announced that his son, “Prince of Cumberland”, will succeed him to throne, Macbeth realizes that he either have to get rid of Malcolm or give up in his ambition. The witches don’t tell Macbeth what to do; but it was Macbeth himself who thinks of murder. The three witches’ intention is only to disrupt the natural order and through Macbeth, this is accomplished. From the above, it is clear that the witches are only responsible for encouraging Macbeth’s ambition and confidence but is not responsible for the killings.
It is Macbeth who has killed Duncan, Banquo and Macduff’s family; therefore, he is responsible for the killings and also for his own downfall. Besides the three witches, Lady Macbeth is another major influence on Macbeth. She is manipulative and encourages Macbeth to achieve his ambition. She is portrayed as a strong, fiercely determined woman who, unlike her husband, shows no doubt of hesitation about killing Duncan. She acts quickly seeking to take advantage of the opportunity to kill Duncan, “O never shall sun that morrow see”, when Duncan decides to stay overnight at their castle.
She also called upon “the spirits that tend on mortal thoughts to unsex me here”, so that she could be evil enough to commit the murder. When Macbeth preferred to be king “without my stir”, she attacked his manhood, saying, “When you broke this enterprise to me then you were a man and should you do this then you would be so much more the man”. Even though Lady Macbeth appears to be the evil mastermind behind the murdering, but in the end, it is also partly because of Macbeth’s own ambition to be king that encourages Macbeth to go into Duncan’s chamber and murders him.
Besides Duncan, Macbeth has also murdered other people such as the grooms, Macduff’s family and also his best friend, Banquo. Due to that, he was later referred as a “tyrant”, a “butcher”, and a terrifying ruler of Scotland. His downfall is a result of his misuse of power, and Lady Macbeth is no longer involved. Therefore, only Macbeth himself shall be blamed for his own downfall. Even though the witches and Lady Macbeth certainly play an integral part in influencing Macbeth, but the choice is ultimately his. He could have ignored the “hags’” prophecy, like Banquo does.
He did not have to share his dark desires with his wife, either. Again, it is his ambition that provokes him to do those evil deeds, “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other”. Once he is bent on becoming king, Macbeth became evil and ruthless, as he is willing to kill anyone in his way, even including women, children, and his friends and countrymen. Were it not for this ambition in Macbeth’s character, he would have been happy with his position of thane and never sought the throne.
In the end, he has no one to blame but himself. Conclusively, it is pretty clear to the readers that Macbeth has brought his own downfall to himself. It is his lust for crown that has consumed him. Although some may argue that the witches and his wife, Lady Macbeth have influenced him at some stage, but in the end, it is Macbeth who made the decisions to kill ruthlessly, as he could have ignored those suggestions. Therefore, Macbeth should solely hold full responsible for his own downfall and not the witches or Lady Macbeth.