The Downfall of Macbeth
Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, is the tragic tale of Macbeth, a virtuous man, corrupted by power and greed. This tragedy can be classified by one of two theories. One theory suggests that the tragic hero, Macbeth, is led down an unescapable road of doom by an outside force; namely the three witches. The second suggests that there is no supernatural force working against Macbeth, which therefore makes him responsible for his own actions and inevitable downfall. Macbeth is indeed responsible for his own actions which are provoked by Lady Macbeth, the witches, his ambition, and an unwillingness to listen to his own conscience. These forces had no direct control over his actions but simply pointed out different paths for him to follow. Ultimately, Macbeth chose the path of darkness.
Throughout the entire play Macbeth ignores the voice of his own conscience. He knows what he is doing is wrong even before he murders Duncan.
His own conscience is nagging at him but he allows Lady Macbeth and greed to cloud his judgement. In referring to the idea of the murder of Duncan, Macbeth first states,'We will proceed no further in this business'(I, vii, 32). Yet, after speaking with Lady Macbeth he recants and proclaims, 'I am settled, and bend up /Each corporal agent to this terrible feat'(I, vii, 79-80). He allows himself to be swayed by the woman he loves. Lady Macbeth gave him an ultimatum and provoked him by saying:
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man..... (I, vii, 49-51)
She provokes him by questioning his manhood and then saying that he would be a much greater man if he were to go through...