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In the play Macbeth by William Shakespeare the motivation to succeed in Macbeth s life becomes overpowering, and pushes him into total destruction. Through out the entire play Macbeth is going down a spiral path of lunacy and physical hardship. The people in his life easily influence his decision and his wrongful actions to achieve his goal of success. Some of the influences on Macbeth include the witches and their apparitions, the dominance of Lady Macbeth, and ultimately Macbeth s own insecurities, ambition and misguided attempts to control his future.
One of the first major influences on Macbeth’s actions are the witches and their prophecies. The visions provided by the three witches begin Macbeth’s quest for dominance. In the beginning Macbeth seems to be happy and satisfied with his life until the witches tell him he will be king. He soon begins to consider murdering Duncan. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion So the witches have stroked the fires of his ambition Macbeth writes Lady Macbeth. They met me in the day of success; and I have learned by the perfect report, they have more in them than mortal knowledge. He obviously has great faith in the witches’ words. Later on, the apparitions called by the witches, influence Macbeth s actions and lead him to believe he is invincible.
Lady Macbeth is a second major influence on the demise of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is like a joined appendage to Macbeth. They work as one, communicate as one, and when that appendage is lost, so is Macbeth s grip with reality. Lady Macbeth was the only person he could truly confide in. Her death at the end of the play sends Macbeth completely over the edge. As soon as Lady Macbeth learns of the witches’ words from Macbeth’s letter, she intends to influence him to kill Duncan. When Macbeth decides not to continue with their plan to murder Duncan, Lady Macbeth gets very upset and insists Macbeth should kill the king and reign as the king of Scotland. She says, Art thou afeard, To be the same in thine own act and valour, As thou art in desire? / Thy nature it is too full o th milk of human kindness. She then makes sure he will perform the deed by taking an active role in preparing for the murder. His two chamberlains / Will I with wine and wassel so convince,” Then while cleaning up. “Give me the daggers: the sleeping, and the dead, Are but as pictures; ’tis the eye of childhood, That fears a painted devil. If he do bleed, I’ll gild the faces of the grooms withal, For it must seem their guilt.
After he is named king, Macbeth’s misery and eventual downfall is caused by his own insecurities, ambition and misguided determination to take control of his future. Macbeth is very distraught about the prophecy concerning Banquo’s descendants being future kings and not his own. Macbeth’s feeling of failure to Banquo lead Macbeth to arrange for the murder of Banquo and his son, Fleance for he cannot deal with the guilt of Banquo s disapproval. Having Banquo around him is a constant reminder to Macbeth of the evil deed he has committed and the knowledge that Banquo’s, not Macbeth’s children, will be kings. Also, Macbeth’s insecurity about his supporters leads him to suspect and hate Macduff. When he learns Macduff has fled to England before he could have him killed Macbeth takes immediate revenge by having Macduff’s family slaughtered. He is determined from that moment on to take control by acting immediately rather than talking and thinking. His insecurities cause him to see the positive side of immediate action. He is unable to appreciate the negative side of rash actions. Certainly, killing Macduff’s family contributed to Macbeth’s downfall as the act inspired hatred and revenge. Finally, Macbeth is made miserable by the deterioration of Lady Macbeth. He begs the doctor to “find her disease / And purge it to a sound and pristine health, / I would applaud thee to the very echo, / That should applaud again.” Surely her condition would have been made worse by Macbeth’s insecurities and regrets on top of his additional crimes of murder.
In this play, the witches awaken Macbeth’s ambition and Lady Macbeth encourages the crime necessary for his ambition to be achieved. Both these influences help lead to Macbeth’s eventual failure and death. His insecurities lead Macbeth to rash actions to get rid of his perceived enemies, actions that he later often regrets. Therefore, he is led to murder Banquo and Macduff’s family and others all the while relying on the apparitions’ prophecies that he will be safe. Only in the end does he realize he has been misled and betrayed, but by then it is too late.