Macbeth, despite influences of the witches and Lady Macbeth, is responsible for his downfall. In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, Macbeth is a tragic hero who destroys himself by his own wicked and selfish ambitions. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is portrayed as a courageous, noble hero of Scotland who has bravely won the war. As the story continues, Macbeth soon becomes a tyrant king who is willing to murder anyone who becomes a threat to his kingdom.
As the play begins, Macbeth proves himself to be a hero as he demonstrates his bravery and courage. He is praised highly by the captain who describes the bravery and brutality of Macbeth towards Scotland’s enemies: “he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops”. His bravery is recognised by King Duncan who rewards him righteously, yet Macbeth’s brutal and violent character leads him to murder the king. Although Macbeth was influenced by Lady Macbeth and the witches in committing the murder, his deep desire and character motivates and fuels his ambition.
Macbeth is firstly influenced by the three witches who prophecy that he will be king. “All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.” Macbeth blindly believes the prophecy without any proof. He refuses to dismiss the words of the witches like Banquo, but instead he chose to believe in those miss-interpreted predictions. Although the witches’ predictions are somewhat responsible for influencing Macbeth’s thoughts, they did not suggest the murder of the king. The thought of murder and treachery must have crossed Macbeth’s mind as his guilt is noticed by Banquo: “Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear things that do sound so fair?”
Macbeth’s “black and deep desires” horrify him and he refuses to speak of them openly, but he sends a letter to his wife, Lady Macbeth, explaining the situation. Lady Macbeth, on receiving the letter, encourages murder as she sees that this is possibly the only opportunity to achieve their ambition. Macbeth allows his wife to manipulate him by accusing him of not being a ‘man’ and expresses that she would kill her own baby to have their desire fulfilled. “I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this”. Yet Macbeth, being strong mentally and physically, does not put a stop to the murder plan while his conscience warns him of the downfall lurching in the vicinity. Instead of listening to his conscience, he suppresses his guilt and continues with his ambition. Even his mind, intoxicated by the thoughts of murder, directes him to the kings room. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutchthee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.”
Macbeth is greatly influenced by the three witches and Lady Macbeth. However, he is ultimately responsible for his own actions. He denies to listen to his own conscience which repeatedly commands him to consider his ways and the path which is slowly leading him to destruction.