The Downfall of Macbeth

Essay by briansgirl0413University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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Macbeth is a play that tells a story of a brave Scottish general who receives a prophecy from three witches that he will one day become King of Scotland. Consumed with thoughts and pushed into action by his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan, and takes control of the throne. He begins his reign tormented with guilt and fear and soon becomes an oppressive ruler. He is then forced to commit more and more murders to protect himself. The bloodbath swiftly pushes Macbeth to arrogance, madness, and finally his death. Throughout the play we can see Macbeth go from a brave warrior to a dead butcher.

In the first scene of the play King Duncan receives the details of a fight between his forces and rebels. The captain tells the king "brave Macbeth" (I: ii: 18) met the traitor with his sword drawn and killed him in a horrible gory manner.

The first description of Macbeth is that of a brave, loyal solider defending his king and country from those who would take the throne and enslave the people. The king is so pleased with Macbeth's performance that he gives Macbeth the traitor's title, Thane of Cawdor, calling him "noble Macbeth" (I:ii:78). So we are led to believe that Macbeth is a good man, loyal, courageous, and determined.

Macbeth knows that in order to become king, Duncan must die, by natural or unnatural means, and this last thought strikes him with panic and fear while he debates the good or the bad of the prophecies. The fact that he did not dismiss them right away as ridiculous indicates that in spite of his bravery as a solider, Macbeth is not totally committed to Duncan. He has ambitions for himself, and if anything stands in his way, he will probably...