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Shakespeare’s Macbeth – Lady Macbeth and the Tragic Flaw Are to Blame

Lady Macbeth and the Tragic Flaw Are to Blame

“…Go pronounce his present death,/ And with his former title greet Macbeth.” (Act 1, Scene 2, 64-65) Though the word “death” in this sentence refers to the former thane of Cawdor’s demise, Shakespeare uses the clever trick of foreshadowing Macbeth’s downfall by coupling the word “death” with the word “Macbeth” so early in the tragedy. The quote has another importance it introduces the ideas of treachery and personal gain from less-than-legitimate means, two characteristics Macbeth picks up on as the story advances. We are introduced to Macbeth as a hero, a slayer of the Norweyans, even “Bellona’s bridegroom, lapped in proof” (Act 1, Scene 2, 54), but by the end of the play Macbeth is a ruthless killer of his own people and possibly cannibalistic*. The cause of Macbeth’s downfall is due to both the unhealthy influence Lady Macbeth has on him and his tragic flaw.

In scene 7 of the first act, we see a hesitant, nervous Macbeth with a calm, bloodthirsty Lady Macbeth. Macbeth’s doubts about killing the king reside in the fact that Duncan is a good king, an honest man and a relative of Macbeth. When Macbeth registers his doubts with the Lady, she scolds him for breaking a vow:

“…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 plucked my nipple from his boneless gums,

And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you

Have done to this.”

(Act 1, Scene 7, 54-59)

We see what power and conviction Lady Macbeth has in her persuasion of Macbeth. But she is not all talk; as Macbeth forgets and fears to return the daggers to the mu…

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…on by forces he could barely control: his Lady and his tragic flaw.

Works Cited and Consulted:

Knights, L.C. “Macbeth.” Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth., no lin.


* Lines 39-45 read “…Cure her of that./ Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,/ Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,/ Raze out the written troubles of the brain/ And with some sweet oblivious antidote/ Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff/ Which weighs upon the heart?” In this passage after Lady Macbeth’s death, Macbeth seems to be giving instructions to clean Lady Macbeth’s body in preparation of eating it.

**Or in some spellings, Banquio

powmac Macbeth’s Obsession with Power

Macbeth’s Obsession with Power

“I’ll fight till from my bones my flesh be hacked.” (Act 5, Scene 3). Phrases as forceful as Macbeth’s quote are not common day language, in fact, it is used except in times of intense emotion. Although the diction of Macbeth’s words are from the Elizabethan Age, it’s message rings true and clear. Macbeth clearly will oppose anything standing in the way of his passion. Critics often debate over the what tragic flaw of Macbeth lead to his downfall. Was it ambition or Lady Macbeth’s influence? Hardly so. It was an obsession of power that Macbeth desired so much that led to his compulsive fixation and preoccupation of obtaining his desire by any and all means necessary. Thus, he inevitably lost touch with reality and became irrational, unreasonable, and myopic which is clearly shown through his decisions. Macbeth had a downfall because of what he did and what he desired, and he could blame no one but himself.

Macbeth is first introduced as a war hero, slayer of the Norweyans. He is then introduced to prophesy by three witches. They prophesize how he will become first Thane of Cawdor and then king. “All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, thane of Cawdor!…Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter.” (Act 1 Scene 3). Macbeth becomes thane and starts to believe in the prophesies if the witches. What first started as inquisitiveness and doubt, soon became fate and truth as the Bible is to Christians. Macbeth began to believe the next prophesy. In fact, not only would he become king, he made it his personal obligation and responsibility to see that it became so. With a little bit of nagging (that is the best term to use) from Lady Macbeth, Macbeth chooses to fulfill his de…

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…ted and Consulted:

Chute, Lily B. “Macbeth : A Study in Power.” Readings on Macbeth. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999. 126-35.

Foakes, Francis. “A New Perspective of Macbeth.” Readings on Macbeth. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999. 58-64.

Gill, Roma, ed. Macbeth. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Kinney, Arthur F. ed. William Shakpespeare: the Tragedies. Boston: Hall and Company, 1985.

Leong, Virginia. Hamlet and Shakespeare Links. 14 Apr. 2000 .

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Elements of Literature. Sixth ed. Austin: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1997.

Wills, Gary. “The Historical Context of Macbeth.” Readings on Macbeth. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999. 30-37.

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