Macbeth: The Agony Of Defeat

The Agony of Defeat

Macbeth’s “way of life is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf / And that which should accompany old age / As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends / He must not look to have” (V. iii. 22-26).  The quotation means that Macbeth has lost all feeling and compassion as a human being and he has no more companions to help salvage his depleted soul.  For example, Lady Macbeth betrays her husband, Macbeth, by committing suicide and causing him to go into deep despair.  The witches betray Macbeth by leading him to do deceitful acts, while knowing that in the end the results would not turn out his way.  The Scottish rebels betray Macbeth by deserting him right before the large battle with Macduff, leaving him alone and defenseless.  In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth was betrayed by his wife, Lady Macbeth, and by the witches; however, the harshest betrayal he suffered was from his own Scottish rebels because his reign as king officially came to an end.

Lady Macbeth betrays her husband, Macbeth, by killing herself and making him feel pessimistic and sorrowful.  Lady Macbeth tells her husband that there is no evidence that they committed murder: “A little water clears us of this deed: How easy is it then!” (II. ii. 66-67).  She convinces her husband that killing Duncan was not a bad crime, although it really was.  She lied about everything she told Macbeth because in reality, she was the person who could not handle the crimes she committed and went into a period of depression and insanity that emotionally destroyed Macbeth and resulted in ending the couple’s estranged marriage.  Lady Macbeth’s tribulations left a damper on Macbeth’s physical and emotional state: “She should have died hereafter / There would have been a time for such a word” (V. v. 17-18).  Although, Macbeth still had the ability to overcome these troubles.

The witches betray Macbeth by continuously misleading him with their prophecies and by also making him believe that his means of manipulation are righteous.   The witches first persuaded Macbeth to kill Duncan and instilled the vision of him being the next king.  The witches prophesized that Banquo will inherit the Scottish throne, influencing Macbeth to order the death of his best friend.  The witches encouraged Macbeth to kill Macduff’s wife and son, adding more vulgarity to the relationship between Macbeth and Macduff.  The witches finally told a prophecy that seemed unlikely, saying that Macbeth would not be defeated unless Birnam Wood came to Dunsinane.  That prophecy became true when Macduff’s army disguised themselves as Birnam Wood and captured Macbeth’s castle, ending Macbeth’s reign at the throne.  In Act IV, the Second Apparition called upon by the witches proclaimed: “The pow’r of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” (IV. i. 78-79).  This quotation said by the Second Apparition explains that Macbeth would never be defeated by any man who was born from a woman, but in the end, Macbeth’s nemesis, Macduff, reveals that he was not born of woman and eventually beheads Macbeth, proving that the witches’ prophecy was incorrect.  The witches persuaded Macbeth to follow his aspirations by using means of manipulation and murder, causing Macbeth to lose control of his life and his soul.

The Scottish rebels betray Macbeth by literally turning their backs on the king and leaving him to fight on his own.  Many rebels felt that Macbeth was getting what he rightfully deserved: “Now does he feel his title / Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe / Upon a dwarfish thief” (V. iii. 20-22).  The quotation displays the rebels’ feelings toward Macbeth and tells that Macbeth is not large enough as a person to become king.  The rebels continued to verbally abuse their present king: “Well, march we on / To give obedience where ‘tis truly owned” (V. iii. 25-26).  This quotation explains how the rebels literally march away from Macbeth’s rule, seeming to travel towards Malcolm’s regime.  Both of these quotations exemplify the urgency displayed by the rebels to dishonor their king, Macbeth, and their wanting to fight for a diverse leader, most notably Malcolm.  Macbeth officially loses control of his nation and his life when his own rebels decide to abandon him and leave him on his own to fight the entire army led by Macduff.

Although Macbeth is betrayed by his wife, Lady Macbeth, and by the witches, he suffered the most severe betrayal from his own army of Scottish rebels because his downfall became complete.  Lady Macbeth betrayed her “partner in greatness” by encouraging death to achieve a high social position, but later she abolished her own feelings by committing suicide and leaving her husband in complete turmoil.  The witches were similar to Lady Macbeth because they also encouraged death and destruction, but they also mislead Macbeth with their prophecies and brought him into hostile territory with his enemies, especially Macduff.  In summation, the Scottish rebels displayed their lack of respect for Macbeth by deciding to disobey his authority and physically marching away from his rule, leaving him on his own to fight and eventually to die.  Although Macbeth himself was not a saint, he was carelessly betrayed many times throughout his life and was forced down a path of pain and destruction that led to his untimely death.

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