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The Fall of Man

The ancient Greek notion of tragedy concerned the fall of a great man, such as a king, from a
position of superiority to a position of humility on account of his ambitious pride, or hubris. To
the Greeks, such arrogance in human behavior was punishable by terrible vengeance. The tragic
hero was to be pitied in his fallen plight but not necessarily forgiven: Greek tragedy frequently
has a bleak outcome. Christian drama, on the other hand, always offers a ray of hope;
hence, Macbeth ends with the coronation of Malcolm, a new leader who exhibits all the correct
virtues for a king.
Macbeth exhibits elements that reflect the greatest Christian tragedy of all: the Fall of Man. In
the Genesis story, it is the weakness of Adam, persuaded by his wife (who has in turn been
seduced by the devil) which leads him to the proud assumption that he can "play God." But both
stories offer room for hope: Christ will come to save mankind precisely because mankind has
made the wrong choice through his own free will. In Christian terms, although Macbeth has
acted tyrannically, criminally, and sinfully, he is not entirely beyond redemption in heaven.
Fortune, Fate, and Free Will
Fortune is another word for chance. The ancient view of human affairs frequently referred to the
"Wheel of Fortune," according to which human life was something of a lottery. One could rise to
the top of the wheel and enjoy the benefits of superiority, but only for a while. With an
unpredictable swing up or down, one could equally easily crash to the base of the wheel.
Fate, on the other hand, is fixed. In a fatalistic universe, the length and outcome of one's life
(destiny) is predetermined by external forces. In Macbeth, the Witches represent this influence.

all these basic societal relationships are perverted or broken. Macbeth's treacherous act of regicide. The medieval and renaissance view of the world saw a relationship between order on earth. Thus. . God's representative on Earth. We cannot blame him for becoming king (it is his Destiny). Although Macbeth is told he will become king. he is not told how to achieve the position of king: that much is up to him. and his destruction of comradely and family bonds. or macrocosm. all go against the natural order of things. when Lennox and the Old Man talk of the terrifying alteration in the natural order of the universe — tempests. and so on — these are all reflections of the breakage of the natural order that Macbeth has brought about in his own microcosmic world. Lady Macbeth's domination over her husband. but we can blame him for the way in which he chooses to get there (by his own free will). the so-called microcosm.The play makes an important distinction: Fate may dictate what will be. in a Christian world such as Macbeth's) of man's own choice or free will. and the loyalty between husband and wife. In this play. Kingship and Natural Order Macbeth is set in a society in which the notion of honor to one's word and loyalty to one's superiors is absolute. darkness at noon. but how that destiny comes about is a matter of chance (and. and order on the larger scale of the universe. earthquakes. hospitality of host towards guest. Other relationships also depend on loyalty: comradeship in warfare. At the top of this hierarchy is the king.

earthquakes. Her most famous speech — located in Act I. gender is out of its traditional order. Many critics see the parallel between Duncan's death and disorder in nature as an affirmation of the divine right theory of kingship. Clearly. the so-called microcosm. The medieval and renaissance view of the world saw a relationship between order on earth. when Lennox and the Old Man talk of the terrifying alteration in the natural order of the universe (nature). Gender Roles Lady Macbeth is the focus of much of the exploration of gender roles in the play. Macbeth's murder of Duncan and his continued tyranny extends the disorder of the entire country. As we witness in the play. As Lady Macbeth propels her husband toward committing Duncan's murder. and so on — parallel the unnatural and disruptive death of the monarch Duncan. Scene 5 — addresses this issue. . on many occasions. these are all reflections of the breakage of the natural order that Macbeth has brought about in his own microcosmic world (society).Disruption of Nature Violent disruptions in nature — tempest. and order on the larger scale of the universe. or macrocosm. Thus. she indicates that she must take on masculine characteristics. darkness at noon. This disruption of gender roles is also presented through Lady Macbeth's usurpation of the dominate role in the Macbeth's marriage. she rules her husband and dictates his actions.

both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth desire power but have no way to achieve it. the difference in ways Macbeth and Lady Macbeth rationalize their actions is essential to understanding the subtle nuances of the play as a whole. Lady Macbeth has a more passionate way of examining the pros and cons of killing Duncan. . Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use different persuasive strategies. Each of them acts in a way that is destructive to others and him or herself. Macbeth shows plenty of ambition before his wife even comes into the picture. and religious reason why he should not commit regicide. On the other hand. He is clearly thrilled that the witches prophesize him as king. In addition to jeopardizing his afterlife. She is motivated by her feelings and uses emotional arguments to persuade her husband to commit the evil act. A tragic impulse is something that leads a character to act in a destructive and self-destructive manner. Macbeth is very rational. Macbeth notes that regicide is a violation of Duncan's "double trust" that stems from Macbeth's bonds as a kinsman and as a subject. He recognizes the political. In Macbeth. contemplating the consequences and implications of his actions.Reason versus Passion During their debates over which course of action to take. Their differences can easily be seen as part of a thematic study of gender roles. Let's consider Macbeth. because when Malcolm is named successor he is angry and vows to make himself king anyway. ethical. in truth. However.

There's not a one of them but in his house I keep a servant fee'd. Macbeth cannot become king in any other way than killing Duncan and getting Malcolm and Donlbain out of the way. Then he has to also kill Banquo and Fleance to ensure that he does not have a “fruitless crown” and there is no threat to his power. Macbeth begins to unravel though. and then Macduff kills Macbeth in battle. Stars. Macbeth is concerned that he may be acting against him. and he feels he has to take it. For in my way it lies. Let not light see my black and deep desires (1:4) Macbeth does not care that he actually has no legitimate claim to the throne. hide your fires.The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step On which I must fall down. . Since Macduff did not come to the banquet. but I will send. I hear it by the way. He sends murderers to kill Macduff’s wife and son. This tragedy leads to tragedy for Macbeth. or else o'erleap. He decides the only thing to do is kill Macduff. and likely has spies in other nobles’ houses. He suspects everyone. (3:4) Macbeth has revealed that he has spies in Macduff’s house. He knows he is not there! It is a heartless act. as his wife can no longer take the guilt and kills herself. The idea has been dangled in front of him.

where the three witches meet and give many clues as to who they are or what they have control over. magic. These two elements of . and no man born of woman can kill him. Shakespeare interpreted the supernatural as witches. he thinks he is safe because the forest is not going to come to Dunsinane. As a result. The Supernatural in Macbeth Everyone has a slightly different interpretation of the supernatural but the interpretation which we can start with is Shakespeare’s. including the king of that time. as they have been.” This scene sets the atmosphere for the rest of the play. Every one of Shakespeare’s time found the supernatural fascinating.When the battle’s lost and won…. “Macbeth” very clearly.The desire to see into the future and affect it proves to be Macbeth’s downfall.There to meet with Macbeth. unnatural and evil and he expressed his beliefs in the play. “…we three meet again in thunder. He is so blinded by his need for control that he does not see the real danger. Shakespeare’s contemporaries believed in the supernatural very strongly and a majority of them were frightened of it.That will be ere the set of sun…. as he portrayed the three deformed women with control over the weather and the ability to predict the future. If this scene was not there it would be difficult for the audience to understand how later scenes are linked or how these three women can tell Macbeth’s future. the witches could not be shown as sinister and evil. King James I of England. He tries to control too much. These three evil witches with magical powers were the creation of Shakespeare’s interpretation of the supernatural. Also if elements of the supernatural were not used in Act 1 Scene 1. lighting or in rain?…. The play begins with a supernatural scene. He uses the weird sisters to see what will happen.

we see this from the very beginning with Duncan checking on his warriors (Macbeth and Banquo among others) against the traitor MacDonwald. The play begins and ends with a battle and a speech. recognitions. and publie praise. “sinister” and “evil” would later be used to explain the cause of the three witches’ behaviour further on in the play. jewels. Loyalty Loyalty between kings and their warriors is something carried over from the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval eras. Thane of Cowdor. Macbeth! That shalt be king hereafter”. The same is true with Malcolm after the traitor Macbeth has been overthrown and his head is on a stake. The rest of the play is based on this supernatural happening. All hail. “All hail to thee. In Macbeth. The king pledged to take care of the warriors and their families in return for the warrior's pledge to protect and fight to the death if necessary for the king. The witches predict Macbeth’s future and tell him that he shall become the Thane of Cowdor and then king. and is also the first time the audience sees or experiences the witches’ supernatural abilities.horror. After the war. Act 1 Scene 3 is Macbeth’s first meeting with the witches. . land. Duncan addresses the people and rewards his loyal thanes with titles. As the play continues the supernatural is used more. After learning that Macbeth is to become King of Scotland the play follows Macbeth’s plot to get rid off King Duncan and then Macbeth’s life after the murder.

He is tormented by the ghost of Banquo. Her doctor says she has a "great disturbance in nature" and an "infected" mind (Act V. An unknown servant is loyal to Lady Macduff and risks his life to warn her that hers is in danger. Lady Macbeth shows loyalty to her father by not killing Duncan since Duncan resembled her dad. Macbeth's cure is to find an obsession .In addition to these examples." Her guilt over the death of Duncan and the further exploitation of Macbeth's power has caused her to become consumed.and so he does. Many of them flee the house and the battlefield to ally themselves with the opposing forces to escape his nightmarish rule. She is also fiercely loyal to Macbeth even though he basically "dumps" her and leaves her on her own after their murder of the king. Lady Macbeth's cure for her infected mind is to kill herself. you have Macduff's examples of loyalty to Malcolm by not going to Macbeth's coronation or his first banquet as King. He tells Macbeth that "she is troubled with thick-coming fancies. It is after he loses his grip on reality at the dinner that he goes back in search of more prophecies. Malcolm's warriors know they are aligned with "good". We see this tendency towards mental instability in Macbeth. Macbeth's household members and warriors and loyal to him through fear only. First. That keeps her from her rest. it manifests like Lady Macbeth's and stems from guilt. with power and knowledge. Reason and Stability The most blatant example of madness is in Lady Macbeth's deteriorating condition. scene i). feeling too guilty for having killed his friend. He is determined to . as well.

in order to justify his own actions.Ambition motivated by Insecurity. and also 100% fo real understanding Macbeth certain ambitions such as his Ambition motivated by Greed. Shakespeare did both simultaneously with a purpose. I have achieved a greater understanding of not only the play. From that deed on. but Shakespeare himself. Shakespeare brilliantly executed a consistent and steady deterioration of the positivity of the word. . as well as the sanity of his characters. Those ambitions drove Macbeth into to the ground as being a tragic hero in Shakespeare fascinating play Macbeth. even though no one said King Duncan had to be killed in order for the prophecy to be fulfilled. Shakespeare’s utilization of fate within the play was not just for the purpose of a theme. Lady Macbeth convinced Macbeth to do an evil deed that led to what his alleged fate was.Other things such as hate reprehensible thoughts dishonor and hate did a toll on Macbeth destiny toward death.know exactly how to keep the power he gained. Conclusion In conclusion. It started in Act I. After exploring fate as a motif within the play Macbeth. you might say. He is mad with power. even if you tried to take control of it yourself. casualties of Macbeth’s paranoid personality usually followed. and Ambition motivated by Hopelessness. which is what Macbeth attempted to do in Act III and Act IV. It is only just before his death that Macbeth realizes his own insanity. wherever the word fate went. He wanted to give the assertion that you could not escape your fate.