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Devin Dustman
Mr.Bigelow
March 15th 2016
Macbeth Essay
In most plays the protagonist has some flaw, often-times a flaw that need to
be overcome so that character can succeed in the plot, and oftentimes they do. Yet
in other plays this destroys the main character and leads to the victory of the
antagonist. This is used by the author to express some deeper meaning, to expose
how these flaws can ruin people. In the play Macbeth the main character, Macbeth,
of course has a great deal of flaws, and these flaws are what eventually lead him to
murder and eventually lead to his own death. And the chief amongst these flaws
that ruin him, is his ambition, but despite this it is also clear that ambition alone
could not have led to his bloody and gruesome fall from grace, therefore there are
other flaws in both his character, and factors in the setting around him that led him
to his first bloody action that set him on his path of destruction. One example of
these external factors, comes from the witches, who are what initially set the spark
in his mind, that led him to kill the king. But some argue that one of these single
external factors, such as the earlier stated witches , were entirely to blame for his
downfall, this to me is preposterous, as Shakespeare makes it clear that if in a single
one of these factors existed in a vacuum, none of the later major events would have
occurred. And others still argue that the Macbeths eventual moral degradation and
death were all caused by fate, which is a constant presence in the book, though this
too is not consistent with the book, as fate is represented as something malleable,
not something simply set in stone.

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Any reader of Macbeth, would quickly notice two major attributes of Macbeth,
impatience and ambition, and the latter, in combination with impatience, was
certainly what set him on his descent to destruction, but it was not his ambition
alone that led to this, it was working in tandem with the neutral if not malevolent
forces surrounding him. This is shown time and time again, throughout the book,
but it was stated most clearly by Macbeth himself , as he discusses the idea of
murdering the king, when he states Upon the sightless couriers of the air, / Shall
blow the horrid deed in every eye, / That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur /
to prick the sides of my intent, but only / vaulting ambition, which oerleaps itself /
and falls on th other(1.7.23-25). This statement, quite directly, is telling the
reader that he needs a spur to make it to the point of murder, a spur that without,
he would be trapped in inaction. And a spur that manifests itself as many things,
including both his wife, and his very own aptitude towards impatience, but more
importantly he brings up his ambition, which seems to be the very base of his desire
to murder and gain more power, money, and notoriety. Another important insight
into Macbeths influences comes from a letter from Macbeth, directed to his loving
wife, where he discusses the great glory that will soon befall him: Hail, king that
shalt be! This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness,
that thou mightst not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what
greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell (1.5.9-14). This
snippet has this immensely powerful air of gloating around it, a gloating that could
only come from this newfound ambition towards becoming king. And this is made
clear simply by the language of this quote, dearest partner of greatness, is just
reveling in the position he may soon occupy, and this reveling is what later turns
both Macbeth and his wife towards the murder. But this also shows the importance

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of the witches, and the extreme influence that they had over him, and it shows the
need for the witches in this book, as without them it is unlikely they would have
ever been able to so inspire his ambition.
But despite this, some people still think that the causes of Macbeths fate lie
elsewhere,

and most often the place they point to is these earlier stated external

factors, who they often times lay the entirety of the blame on, though this of course
is not the most logical line of thinking, as any of these things alone could not push
an honorable man, as Macbeth once was, to the point of murder. A wonderful ruse
for Macbeth throughout some of the early chapters of the book is Banquo, a man,
who of course continues to live a life that is not burdened of the heavy guilt of
murder, and one of the strongest arguments against this idea of one of the external
factors, the witch, comes from this fact, that Banquo received similar prophesies but
did not act: You greet with present grace and great prediction / Of noble having
and of royal hope, / That he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not. / If you can
look into the seeds of time / And say which grain will grow and which will not, /
Speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear / Your favors nor your hate(1.3.5662). This statement right here comes from a Banquo, who sees the ambition in his
partners eyes, and decides that he also desires prophesies, and when he receives
said prophesies he continues in his travels, and continues to respect Macbeth as a
leader and as a fellow commander. And this lack of action shows the fact that the
witches did not alone cause this, as if they did, Banquo along with everyone else
who heard this murderous prophesy would follow suit, which of course Banquo did
not. Another external factor that is oft sighted alone is Macbeths wife, who
encourages him to murder to take his place on the throne, but this too has many
flaws, because if Lady Macbeth alone had the power to cause Macbeth to murder,

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then why did she get left out, later in the book when Macbeth started killing on his
own? This eventual independence on the part of Macbeth is developed very nicely
late In the book, when the Macbeth tells lady Macbeth to give Banquo special
treatment at the dinner table, when he of course had just planned out the murder of
his beloved guest : Apply to Banquo; present him eminence, / Both with eye and
tongue : unsafe the while that we / Must lave our honors in these flattering streams,
/ And make our faces vizards to our hearts, / Disguising what they are(3.2.33-36).
And of course, if Macbeth could plan a murder on his own, even going so far as to lie
to her, directly trying to manipulate her, shows the fact that Lady Macbeth does not
command nearly enough control over Macbeth, to lead to his downfall and eventual
murders totally on her own.
And others still claim that the powerful force of fate, which acts as a subject
in many parts of the book, is what led to the downfall of Macbeth, though this as
well is very flawed, because fate is shown in this book to be alterable, if it even
exists at all. This point is shown very well by a statement made by the Captain early
in the book when he described fortune as on his damned quarrel smiling, / Showed
like a rebels whor. But alls too weak / For brave Macbeth well he deserves that
name -/ Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel, / Which smoked with bloody
execution, / Like valors minion carved out his path (1.2.15-20). The captain, is
quite clearly stating that Macbeth was really and truly, defeating fortune, beating it
to the point of submission, and even though it was turned against him, he still won
the battle on sheer force of will, nothing less. And this fact, that Macbeth could beat
something as powerful and transient as fortune, shows that it is malleable, and this
means that it can by no means be at fault for his position, and that means the fault
must therefore fall on others. Another example of fortunes lack of power over

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Macbeth, comes from Hecate and the witches meeting on the gates of hell, here
they decide on how they will alter his future ,Tither he / Will come to know his
destiny./ Your vessels and your spells provide, / Your charms and everything
beside. / I am for the air. This night Ill spend / Unto a dismal and a fatal
end(3.5.16-21). This once again shows entitys altering fate, an alteration that
clearly takes the power out of fates hands, as it seems their magic has the ability to
overcome this great earthy power. And, of couse if anyone in the play can alter fate,
for or against Macbeth, the fault of his destruction lies more in their hands, then the
hands of fate or fortune.
The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare, provides many great examples of
fatal flaws yet, the largest fatal flaw of the protagonist, Macbeth, is much disputed,
but it is clear, that the main things that led to his downfall come in as both
Macbeths extreme ambition, and the many factors that helped his ambition
manifest itself in the murder of the good King Duncan and Banquo. This is shown by
the many statements about how Macbeth requires a spur of some kind to follow
through with these evil deeds. Though, many people do say that his downfall was
caused only by one of these external factors, i.e. the witches or Lady Macbeth, yet
this is supported by so little, as they alone do not have the sway over Macbeth to
lead him to do something so contrary to his nature. This was shown mostly by
Macbeth, who when given many of the same opportunities as Macbeth, did not act
in such a despicable way. And others still make the argument that fate alone was
responsible for Macbeths eventual destruction, though this is also not fully
supported by the evidence in the book, as fate was shown time and time again to
be a malleable resource, not an un-editable force. This was shown by the way that
fate was displayed both at the start of the book, as Macbeth won a battle against

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fate, and the way that the witches and Hecate showed their ability to control this
ethereal force