Lady Macbeth: The Direct ad Indirect Cause of Macbeth’s Downfall

In the story of Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, the protagonist Macbeth rose to power as King of Scotland, and then descended on a tragic downfall as a result of outside influence by other characters and forces. Moreover, along with his own tragic downfall, Macbeth brought his country of Scotland down with him as he fell from power. More specifically, in his rise to power, Macbeth first heard from the three weird sisters, or sisters of fate, that he was destined to be both Thane of Cawdor and king later, but he did truly believe it could happen. Therefore, when he received the title of Thane of Cawdor, he consequently felt a personal feeling that he could actually become King later in life. Even though he had no personal ambition, his greedy wife, Lady Macbeth, pushed Macbeth in order to take action in order to put himself in a position to take the throne by murdering those ahead of him who are in line for the throne. Once he ascended the throne and actually took power, Lady Macbeth became incapable and he alone had to protect himself against others trying to take power away from him. Thus, Lady Macbeth, played an direct role in the plot, which got Macbeth to thr throne, which led him to murder, and also indirectly responsible by not being able to help him protect himself while in power when she became ill. Therefore, Lady Macbeth was solely responsible for Macbeth’s ambition, and rise to power, which indirectly led him to his own murderous behavior in his efforts to take and keep control of the throne in Scotland.

In his rise to power, Macbeth did not personally have the ambition to take the throne or plot to take action to personally give himself an opportunity to take the throne. Furthermore, after Macbeth heard the prophecies of the witches, he did not possess the aspiration to act to acquire the crown.  However, once Lady Macbeth heard that her husband had been fortuned to be king in the future, her lust for greed, and selfishness drove her to insist that her husband take action immediately to seize the opportunity to become King of Scotland. Additoinally, it was Lady Macbeth that devised the plot to murder Duncan, not Macbeth, which shows her drive and determination and also Macbeth’s lacking. More specifically, she did most of the planning and action in the plot to murder King Duncan, because she felt her husband was too much of a coward to devise and execute such a plan himself. Furthermore, as stated in the novel on page 27, “Glamis thou art, an Cawdor; and shalt be what thou art promis’d. –Yet do I fear thy nature: it is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness, to catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it” (Shakespeare 1.5. 15-20).  Moreover, the aforementioned quote clearly exemplifies that Lady Macbeth felt that her husband lacked both the drive, and courage to go through with the plot to kill Duncan. Therefore, she not only devised the plot herself, but also facilitated the plot to minimize Macbeth’s actual involvement.  Thus, Lady Macbeth did not have the faith that Macbeth would go through with a successful plot based on his lack of courage, she used her own greed and selfishness basically do it for Macbeth. As said in the novel on page 51, “That with hath made them drunk hath made me bold: what hath quench’d them hath given me fire” (Shakespeare 2.1. 1-2). Most importantly, this statement clearly illustrates that is was Lady Macbeth that had the direct motive to kill Duncan because she wanted riches that came with the title that Macbeth would earn. However, her husband, even though he was promised the title of King, needed convincing in order to actually kill Duncan. Consequently, it was Lady Macbeth that convinced Macbeth to kill Duncan, plotted the murder secretly, and had the actual ambition to take action. Lady Macbeth would have also murdered Duncan herself, and completed the assassination without the foolish toils of Macbeth, but she could not actually go through with the murder because Duncan resembled her father. Thus, Macbeth was basically a small pawn in her plot in order to achieve personal gain and wealth, while it was Lady Macbeth who had the direct intent and involvement in the plot.

Besides Lady Macbeth having the ambition for the plot to take the throne, she also gave Macbeth false hope that their plot would succeed without flaw if it was executed correctly. Furthermore, Lady Macbeth, essentially forced Macbeth into direct involvement, which he would have preferred to avoid if possible. After Lady Macbeth had successfully convinced Macbeth by mocking his personal pride, she proceeded to explain the plan, and gave him false hope that they would succeed. More specifically, as stated on page 42, “We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail…what cannot you and I perform upon the unguarded Duncan?” (Shakespeare 1.7. 60-71). Therefore, Lady Macbeth successfully gave Macbeth false hope prior to their execution of their plot that they would succeed without any complications. For instance, she actually said confidently that they will not fail, and explaining that they could easily get to the unguarded Duncan, and then later, proceed to murder him without problem if they so wished. However, as exemplified later in the noel, that was not the case as the plot unfolded. Moreover, while actually trying to assassinate Duncan, some problems arose such as the servants as witnesses, Banquo and Fleance that suspected Macbeth, and Duncan resisting the actual murder. If that were nto already enough, later, after they Duncan had been killed, Macbeth realized that his plan was unraveling as people were starting to suspect him in the murder, and he was not safe as King yet.  Therefore, he had to employ more murders and plots in order to just keep own sanity and safety. For example, as stated on page, 81, “We have scorch’d the snake, not kill’d it” (Shakespeare 3.2. 13-13). Therefore, Macbeth engineered the murders of Banquo and Fleance, because Macbeth had been told Banquo’s descendants would be King, instead of his own descendants.  Additionally, he also decided to kill Macduff’s wife and children in revenge for Macduff actually fleeing Scotland.  Thus, Macbeth had to launch several other murders to cover up for all of the other murders that had been originally launched because of Lady Macbeth.

On another note, Lady Macbeth also indirectly led to Macbeth’s murderous behavior based on her disability that she developed toward the end of her life. Moreover, she basically lost her sanity toward the end of her life when she started sleepwalking, because the guilt form her involvement in the plot had driven her to the brink of insanity. For example, she started mumbling and performing tasks during the night for an extensive period of time during the night, and actually eventually jumped off the balcony to her own death.  As shown in the novel on page 139, “Out damned spot! Out, I say! One; two: why, then tis’ time to do’t” (Shakespeare 5.1. 33-34).   The previous statement by Lady Macbeth shows that in her fit of insanity, she was incapable of helping Macbeth stay in power. Therefore, while Macbeth was still in power, she was basically delirious, and Macbeth was lead to find for himself. As a result, he lost control over his position on the throne, and it eventually led to his fruitless murders in order to attempt to stay in power. In addition on page 147, Macbeth says, “Cure her of that; canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain” (Shakespeare 5.3. 39-42). Furthermore, because she became completely insane, and she had prior knowledge about the murders, and was babbling on and on about the details. Thus, she was telling others, such as the gentle woman, and the doctor about Macbeth’s and his guilt in the plot to murder Duncan. Therefore, she was indirectly responsible for his downfall, rise to power, and also the murderous behavior in rode to try to protect the throne.

Overall, Lady Macbeth was responsible, for the rise to power, his murderous behavior to try to keep power, and his tragic downfall. More specifically, once Macbeth had been foretold that he was going to be King, Lady Macbeth’s greed overcame her, like a strong wave from a tsunami that engulfs the beach.  Moreover, in the first place, Macbeth did not want do anything, and he was significantly lacking in the ambition, and therefore, it was her idea and execution that led to him actually murdering King Duncan in the first place.  Once he had been suborned into killing Duncan, Macbeth was left to rule, and had to kill some others in order to attempt to maintain his place as a crown. Thus, when Lady Macbeth began to become ill, Macbeth was left to fend for himself like a small wounded animal.  Thus, in actuality, it was actually Lady Macbeth’s rise and fall from power over Macbeth that indirectly led to his rise and fall from power in Scotland.  Thus, Macbeth never actually had any control over his own destiny.

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