Macbeth and Witches Essay

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Pages: 3

What was Macbeth’s fatal flaw? You could consider his ambition, the influence of Lady Macbeth, or the prophecies from the three witches. Draw explicitly on quotations and plot development to support your ideas.

Macbeth, a tragedy scripted by William Shakespeare in the 17th century, shows the effects a desire for power can have over a man. Macbeth, the title character of the play is often expressed as being the villain of the tragedy however through the study of the play it is evident that rather being an innately evil character Macbeth was a tragic hero. Doomed by fate that ultimately supported his descent into madness, his interaction with the three witches furthermore his wife’s manipulation of his characteristics and his eventual hamartia were the foundations of which the play built the tragic fall from grace.

Like many characters in Shakespeare’s plays the hero suffers a tragic flaw or a hamartia. In this instance Macbeth’s flaw was his resolute ambition combined with a lust for power. This is recognized by the character himself who states act I scene VII “soliloquy “I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only vaulting ambition” Macbeth’s comment suggest that his actions are provoked by his lust for power. Although seen as a negative and indisputably corrupt flaw Macbeth was previously seen as a hero, being described as “Brave Macbeth” (Act I Scene II) revealing to be a brave soldier in war. Added to this was frequently referred to as a valiant by King Duncan throughout the first act. Macbeths ambition always resided within him but this did not cause problems until the prophecy made by the three witches effected his mental state.

Macbeth’s fate was destined to be of a great demise the moment the three witches cast the prophecy. Before foretelling his rise to power, as Thane of Cawdor and greater becoming the future king of Scotland Macbeth would never have thought about the possibility of greater power. Essentially the seeds of betrayal were planted by the three witches, he was initially a modest character reveling in his position before succumbing to the prospect of achieving higher prestige. However this was not achieved before the title of Thane of Cawdor foretold by the three witches was granted his, shifting his moral focus towards the belief that the prophecy was true and ultimately his desire for more power. Macbeths initial hopes for the prophecy to be true changes to not just a possibility, but rather an inevitable truth. His desire for this power arose and his ambition started to take control. It was at this moment that Macbeths character becomes that of a tragic hero.

However Macbeths eventual demise was a slow one in which the witches prophecy dictates his every move. Throughout the tragedy the witches continued to contribute to Macbeths growing insanity. His