The Macbeth’s Witches and their Controversial Nature
The nature of the three witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a controversial subject. Mildred Tonge suggests in her essay Black Magic and Miracles in Macbeth that the witches represent women that serve a dark power, most likely Satan, or even that they are a form of Satan himself (Tonge, p. 1). Other critics propose that the three are a figment of Macbeth’s imagination—apparitions he conjured to provide justification for killing Duncan, a thought that he had harbored long before the play began. However, careful observation of the text suggests that the witches are far more connected to humanity than they at first appear. Though not illusions of Macbeth’s mind, nor evil beings in and of themselves, the three witches are outside manifestations of human vice, which appear for the purpose of providing temptation to the unwary, giving voice to their secretly abhorrent desires.
The witches make notable appearances twice in Macbeth, both in Act 1 Scene 3 and in Act 4 Scene 1—two crucial times in the title character’s development. The first time they arrive, it is to accost Macbeth and Banquo on their way back from war. It is at this point, when Macbeth is arguably more powerful than at any time before in his life, that the witches decide to tempt him. If there was ever a time in which his political ambition would be at the forefront of his mind, it is at this moment. His success had won him accolades and moral support from his peers and superiors, and had gained him renown far above that of other men. The weird sisters approach him and prophesy that he is destined to become a king, and Banquo, a father to kings. They tempt them both with the prospect of achieving great power, bringing them to the crossroads of morality. Banquo continues down the road of loyalty and justice, while Macbeth takes a darker path. Despite hearing the prophecy, Banquo decides to leave fate be. Macbeth’s mind, however, is immediately plagued with thoughts of killing Duncan, much to his disquiet: “Why do I yield to that suggestion/ Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair” (1.4. 137-138). The witches’ divinations take hold of Macbeth so easily, because ascending to the rank of king through regicide was a thought Macbeth had already subconsciously entertained. By voicing his aspirations aloud, and predicting his success, they give Macbeth the justification he needs to turn his thoughts into actions. He then uses the witches and the fate they prophesied for him as an excuse to delve into the bogs of murder and corruption, so he doesn’t have to acknowledge his own immorality.
This is proven by the fact that Macbeth supposedly kills Duncan in order to fulfill the prophecy and achieve his destiny, but numerous times thereafter Macbeth spurns fate, in his attempts to subvert it. The witches are, as Banquo later declares, “instruments of darkness [that] tell us truths” (1.4. 126-128). They act as the instrument through which Macbeth is able to see himself. They reveal to Macbeth not only what waits for him in the future, but also the inner makeup of the man himself. Furthermore, the three witches are projections of Macbeth’s mindscape.“[The witches] merely betray Macbeth by reflecting him, and in that way they do resemble [a] dark mirror” (Favila, p. 17). Though the witches are dour, spiteful creatures, they show no proof of being inherently evil. They simply parallel the qualities of the man on whom they’ve cast their attentions. The negative stigma attached to the witches is due, in part, to their grotesque, unearthly appearance. They are described as being haggard and withered women, with beards. Banquo describes them as “look[ing] not like th’ inhabitants o’ th’ Earth” (1.3.42). They are depicted as something inhuman because they represent the base, inhuman desires of man. This is exhibited in Macbeth, particularly, whose actions can be described as no less than bestial. Throughout the play the weird sisters parallel Macbeth’s psyche in their actions as well. This becomes most apparent in Act 1 Scene 4, when they are making a spell for him just before he arrives. Using “birth-strangled babe” and “witch’s mummy”, along with “tooth of wolf” and “tiger’s chaudron” they brew an incantation made from pieces of murderers and murder victims (Favila, p. 17)(4.1.23-33). These powerful images, such as the “poisoned entrails” and the “maw and gullet” that are also thrown into the cauldron are reminiscent of Macbeth’s poisoned soul, and his ravenous hunger for power. In this scene in particular, the sorceresses appear as nefarious entities casting hexes made from dismembered animal parts, but in truth they only appear evil because they are reflecting his subconscious mind (Favila p. 17).
One of the great ironies of this play is that the witches—traditionally evil creatures—are not shown to engage in any crime, while Macbeth—who originally appears as being ostensibly good—commits many heinous acts. In a paradoxical moment at the beginning of Act 4, the witches hail the arrival of Macbeth with the phrase: “By the pricking of my thumbs/Something wicked this way comes” (4.1. lines 44-45). The fact that three sorceresses, of all people, describe him in this fashion emphasizes how truly evil he is. The sad truth is that throughout the play the witches offer Macbeth little to no help, though he is more than willing to sacrifice his ethics for the sake of gaining power, and is aware that he is giving up a part of himself every time he appeals to them (Tonge, page 7). If anything, they contribute to his downfall by conjuring apparitions to give him false confidence. This, in a way, causes them to be among the heroes of the play, as Macbeth grows increasingly more villainous. Shakespeare himself purposefully leaves the nature of the witches ambiguous. They are characters that cannot be expressly defined or described: “[Shakespeare’s] witches represent a force of evil which cannot be altogether apprehended through the senses, but which takes shape in tangible forms” (Tonge, p. 3). Superstition was very prevalent in Elizabethan England, and therefore the idea of witches and witchcraft permeated the culture. If nothing else the archetype carries with it an atmosphere of enigma and foreboding. It was necessary for Shakespeare to instill this sense of mystery, in order to leave the overarching plot of the play up to the audience’s interpretation.
Depending on the way one interprets the three weird sisters, one could reach a variety of different conclusions. By not explicitly stating the nature of these characters, Shakespeare gives the play a sense of timelessness, making the themes applicable across different cultures and generations. It can be surmised from Macbeth that the witches, though they appear to be servants of the Devil, are not expressly evil. Instead, they represent the characters’ darkest desires in tangible form, tempting them by bringing their own wicked thoughts to light. This is demonstrated in Macbeth. As he steadily descends into villainy and madness, in a complete role reversal, the witches seem to be heroes in comparison, begging the question of who is the man and who is the monster.
Favila, Marina. “”Mortal Thoughts” and Magical Thinking in “Macbeth”” Modern Philology 99.1 (2001): 1+. Web.
Tonge, Mildred. “Black Magic and Miracles in Macbeth.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 31.2 (1932): 1-7. University of Illinois Press. Web. 17 Dec. 2014.
The dark side of human nature in Shakespeare play Macbeth
How far are you willing to go to get what you want? One of the themes in William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is greed. How a humble person can turn into a savage and uncontrollable beast just for wanting more. In the play Macbeth, William Shakespeare shows humankind as dark and immoral. Shakespeare displays the negative side of human nature through three of the main characters. Banquo who appears to be noble but he fails to resist to his desires. Secondly, Lady Macbeth reveals ambition that leads her to her own destruction. Lastly, Macbeth becomes showered in greed that leads him to do horrible deeds. Greediness can lead you do things you have never thought of doing.
Banquo says “My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction, of noble having and of royal hope, that he seems rapt withal. To me you speak not. If you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak, then, to me, who neither beg nor fear, Your favors nor your hate” (Act I, iii, 55-62). Banquo, who appears to be a noble man, also displays his greed by wanting to know a great prediction just like Macbeth Banquo reveals his greed by committing the sin of omission. After, Duncan’s death, Banquo talks to himself “As the weird women promised: If there come truth from them/As upon thee, Macbeth, their speeches shine/Why, by the verities on thee made good, /May they be my oracles as well/And set me up in hope?” (Act III, i, 2-10). Banquo does not reveal the secret of the prophecies and his suspicion about Macbeth because he believes that his prophecy will not come true if he exposes this secret information. Even though, Banquo did not act towards his greed, but his greediness of keeping secrets of the prophecies lead him to his own death. A promise between Macbeth and Banquo, stops him from telling their secrets. Macbeth promises to honor him and that makes it even harder for Banquo to reveal the secret. There are some good qualities but also bad qualities in human nature that leads to their downfall.
Shakespeare shows much stronger greed in Lady Macbeth. After hearing about the witches’ prophecies, Lady Macbeth reveals her true ambitions. During Shakespeare time, Shakespeare showed a female character as kind and obedient. However, Macbeth presents a very dark image of a female character that becomes evil in her desires for the future. Lady Macbeth convince her husband to act towards his desire and his fate. As she knows, Macbeth does not have the guts to do it so she manipulates him “Was the hope drunk from this time/Such I account thy love, Art thou afeard/To be the same in thine own act and velour/As thou esteem’st the ornament of life, /And live a coward in thine own esteem, /Letting I dare not wait upon I would, /Like the poor cat I the adage?” (Act I, vii, 35-44). In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth does not only carry out her own role but she also provokes her husband into taking an action to accomplish her desires. Lady Macbeth’s natural humanity is displayed when she is not able to kill Duncan herself because he resembles her father. This shows that she is trying to suppress her human nature and allow her ambition to rule. However, even after reaching her achieved goal, she is discontent throughout the rest of the play. Lady Macbeth expresses her feelings, but not to Macbeth “Noughts had, alls spent. /Where our desire is got without content: /Tis safter to be that which we destroy /Than by destruction, dwell in doubtful joy/why do you keep alone, /Of sorriest fancies your companions making; what’s done is done.” (Act III, ii, 6-14). Even with her dissatisfaction, she keeps her emotion to herself in order to keep her throne. The greed in human nature is so strong that it can overtake morality.
Finally, and the most significantly, Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to act upon his greed, and leave his morals behind. Shakespeare shows Macbeth as evil from the beginning of the play. In his first entrance, he expresses his feelings of the day by saying “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” (Act I, iii, 39). Since Macbeth believes that good is bad and bad is good, his ambition overtakes his morals and standards. Therefore, Shakespeare shows that humans can represent both good and evil. Macbeth reveals his desire of killing King Duncan when he is left alone in his chamber. I have not spur/To prick the sides of my intent, but only/Vaulting ambition, which oerleaps itself/And falls on the other. (Act I, vii, 25-28). Macbeths values are shown through his speech as he expresses hatred for killing Duncan.Lady Macbeth convinces her husband which leads him to act upon his deed. Later, Macbeth kills Banquo because of greediness. Macbeth feels insecure because of Banquo’s prophecies “When first they put the name of king upon me,/And bade them speak to him; then prophet-like/They haild his father to a line of kings:/Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,/And put a barren scepter in my gripe,/Thence to be when chd with an unlined hand,/No son of mine succeeding. (Act III, i ,62-68). Macbeth betrays his friendship because he believes that he had committed a horrible deed not for his descendants, but for Banquo’s. Even though Banquo had been so kind and loyal to him, Macbeth kills him to prevent Banquo’s son from gaining the crown he has killed for. When once greed overrules humanity, it will continue to control and force them to make harsh decisions.
Throughout the play, Shakespeare presents a dark side of human nature, with greed and ambition overcoming morality. First, by illustrating Banquo’s greed in order for his kids to inherit the throne. Secondly, Lady Macbeths ambition overtakes her, and instead of supporting her husband, she pushes him to evil. Finally, Macbeth allows his goal and desires to control his life and lead him to a betrayal of Duncan, Banquo, and his own morality.
Shakespeare’s Masterpiece, Pico’s Philosophy: Macbeth and Oration on the Dignity of Man
Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, Macbeth, eloquently displays the wildness of human imagination and the consequences of rapid action. The play’s plot is written by the ominous whispers of Macbeth’s conscience, which lead to avaricious and selfish reasoning. Macbeth’s character, as well as other pivotal characters in the book, reveals significant traits and dwellings of the human mind and its capacity. In Oration on the Dignity of Man, Italian scholar and philosopher Giovanni Pico discusses his view on the skills and level of existence of human beings. His philosophy revolves around the amazing capacity of human achievement as well as human failure. He describes his awe in the establishment of humankind as well and our ability of free will, making us the most wonderful of all creations. To a large extent, Shakespeare’s view in Macbeth correlates with the view of Pico, as shown largely through the characters’ actions and dynamics, mostly notably those of the Macbeths, in the tragedy.
The play begins with the character of Macbeth as an accomplished nobleman of King Duncan. He is known by the authorities of the kingdom as a honest and noble man, who is highly valued for his bravery. After the battle with Macdonwald and Sweno, a wounded sergeant bears Macbeth’s bravery as he says “For brave Macbeth — well he deserves that name — Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish’d steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valour’s minion carved out his passage. Till he faced the slave” (1.2.16-20). Evidently, Macbeth is a prominent figure to the people and one could assume he has built an established figure in the kingdom. His kindness is also pointed out by his own wife when she says, “Yet I do fear thy nature; It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness, To catch the nearest way” (1.5.14-16). Macbeth’s character seems to be the ideal nobleman a king would have dreamt of — honest, kind, and courageous. However, this seems to take a deep turn as Macbeth soon finds the power of the human free will, which Pico elaborates as the pivotal part of the existence of humans, writing, “thou mayest fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer” (Pico, 1487). This free will is the capacity which deepens the hole for Macbeth, as he begins to ponder upon the witches remarks. He allows himself to give into the thought of evil as he says, “Why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, Against the use of nature?” (1.3.137-139). He is now trapped into his own thoughts, which, as explained by Pico’s philosophy, have the power to control Macbeth. His need to become king becomes the dominant goal of his actions, and soon it is seen how a seemingly innocent thought can become a gruesome action.
Macbeth kills Duncan with the orders of Lady Macbeth, and soon he undergoes a transformation. There is no hesitance or caution that Macbeth asserts anymore; he is rather blunt and bolder to get the crown. He is easily able to easily murder Banquo, as he says to the murderers, “I will advise you where to plant yourselves; Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ the time, The moment on’t; for ‘t must be done to-night” (3.1.147-149). A man who once rode along the side of Banquo in his full trust did not even blink when he said he would want him dead. This change is dynamics can be attributed to the free will that is given to us humans. We are able to think for ourselves, as Pico explains “Thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul’s judgment, to be reborn into the higher forms, which are divine” (Pico, 1487). This idea correlates to the actions of Macbeth, who wants to become king. However, Pico also states the converse of his last statement as a pivotal reason as to why humans should be greatly acknowledged — our ability to fail. He writes, “Thou shalt have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish” (1487). This is the central correlation to Macbeth, as his actions prove to destroy him, showing the capacity of free will.
By the end of the play, Macbeth realizes he is in too deep of a turmoil, yet still fails to recognize that he can stop. He says, “I am in blood. Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o’er” (3.4.169-171). This statement illustrates Pico’s converse, as one can see that the brave nobleman that was portrayed in the beginning of the tragedy is now ultimately gone due to his own actions. Macbeth has become molded into someone who is entirely different. Hostile and degraded, Macbeth sees his own prophecy fall. When he is finally cornered, he lastly says, “I have liv’d long enough: my way of life. Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf; And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have; but, in their stead…”(5.3.26-30). Here, Macbeth accepts his fate and learns the true consequences of free will actions as he watched a yellow leaf fall. Pico’s philosophy revolves around the greatness of the free will of human beings, whether it is good or bad, which differentiates us from other beings. Macbeth is able to portray this philosophy, as shown, by his ability to rise and fall within his own actions.
Nonetheless, even though a large extent of Shakespeare channels the philosophy of Pico, Macbeth also puts forward another argument on life. Macbeth captivates the audience with his dreaded speech after the suicide of Lady Macbeth. He puts forward the ambiguity of life and how trivial humans are when he says, “Creeps in this petty pace from day to day. To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools.The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player” (5.5.23-27). This approach urges us to re-evaluate Pico’s claim on the worth of humans and the awe of free will. Macbeth’s speech illustrates life as a place which is meaningless, whether it ends up being good or bad. Free will is only a danger and does not matter at the end. However, because the tragedy heavily shows the impact of free will on actions, Shakespeare still mostly aligns with Pico’s philosophy. The assertion that human beings can exercise their intellectual capabilities and change themselves through their free will, whereas the universe is tied to a bond of order, is the marvelous condition of mankind through the eyes of Pico. This philosophy has ascended through time in wondrous ways, and has made it to a place five hundred years after, to readers of Macbeth in our own time.
How does Shakespeare present Lady Macbeth as evil and cunning
Is Lady Macbeth more responsible for King Duncan’s death? Is Lady Macbeth a more evil character than her husband and if so, why?
I think Lady Macbeth should take some blame for Duncan’s death i don’t think she’s evil, but she is tricky and cunning when she influences Macbeth to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth’s ability to influence her husband leads us the audience to believe that she is the primary cause for the destruction of Macbeth. I believe she is responsible because she makes up the details of the plan to kill Duncan, while Macbeth was considering not even going through with the murder. Although Macbeth had the thought of killing Duncan, he would not have acted on that unless Lady Macbeth persuaded him.
Lady Macbeth is a sly person, able to manipulate her husband, and this ability to manipulate Macbeth makes her partially responsible for the destruction of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth knows that her husband is too kind to kill Duncan without her help she fears. She is very much aware of the fact that she needs to push Macbeth to kill Duncan or else he won’t do it. We see Macbeth’s hesitance to kill the king when he lists reasons not to kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth insults her husband by undermining his manliness. Lady Macbeth tells her husband “when durst do it then you were a man and to be much more than what you were, you would be so much more than a man.” This is the primary way in which lady Macbeth is responsible for the murder of Duncan. Lady Macbeth is the blame for the destruction of her husband because she orchestrated Duncan’s murder and did just about everything except actually kill Duncan. She plans the murder and she sets things in motion by giving the wine to the king’s servants. She also is the one who makes the signal that all is ready. Lady Macbeth solely set up Duncan’s murder making it as easy as possible for Macbeth to commit the assassination of the king. The audience doesn’t know that lady Macbeth feels that she is responsible for the destruction of Macbeth until the end when she sleepwalks.
Lady Macbeth fooled Duncan with her great hospitality and thoughtfulness. She also is good at remaining cool in tense situations and is good at getting out of tense situations. For example when Macbeth was hallucinating at the dinner party, and was seeing Banquo’s ghost, Lady Macbeth remained cool and made up a plausible explanation for her husband’s actions. Although she seems to have no conscience, we see at the end when she’s sleepwalking, that she is deeply troubled. She knows that it is partially her fault for all the murders especially Duncan’s. Her fear of darkness shows the audience that she regrets what she has done and that she knows what she did was wrong. The thought of killing Duncan entered Macbeth’s mind before he spoke to his wife. He first reveals his thoughts when he says, “ if good, why do i yield to that suggestion.” Macbeth expresses his desire to be able to kill Duncan even though he knows he will regret it when he says, “the eye wink at the hand, yet let that be / which the eye fears, when its done, to see.” Lady Macbeth gave Macbeth that extra push that he needed to become a ruthless killer. However not all the blame can go on Lady Macbeth her husband didn’t have to listen to her and he didn’t have to kill Duncan. Macbeth chooses to kill Duncan, it was his own free will. Lady Macbeth did influence his thinking but Macbeth could not be totally blameless. He must atleast take half of the blame for his destruction, Lady Macbeth however is also responsible and she could not be getting off the hook, she deserves what she gets in the end because she was the main factor in Macbeth’s decision to kill Duncan. This decision led to Macbeth becoming a ruthless killer. And that leads Lady Macbeth to be more evil than her husband Macbeth.
Macbeth: a successful soldier in the army of King Duncan
Set in medieval Scotland and partly based on a true historical account, Macbeth charts the bloody rise to power and tragic downfall of the warrior Macbeth. Already a successful soldier in the army of King Duncan, Macbeth is informed by Three Witches that he is to become king. As part of the same prophecy, the Witches predict that future Scottish kings will be descended not from Macbeth but from his fellow army captain, Banquo. Although initially prepared to wait for Fate to take its course, Macbeth is stung by ambition and confusion when King Duncan nominates his son Malcolm as his heir.
Returning to his castle, Macbeth allows himself to be persuaded and directed by his ambitious wife, who realizes that regicide — the murder of the king — is the quickest way to achieve the destiny that her husband has been promised. A perfect opportunity presents itself when King Duncan pays a royal visit to Macbeth’s castle. At first Macbeth is loath to commit a crime that he knows will invite judgment, if not on earth then in heaven. Once more, however, his wife prevails upon him. Following an evening of revelry, Lady Macbeth drugs the guards of the king’s bedchamber; then, at a given signal, Macbeth, although filled with misgivings, ascends to the king’s room and murders him while he sleeps. Haunted by what he has done, Macbeth is once more reprimanded by his wife, whose inner strength seems only to have been increased by the treacherous killing. Suddenly, both are alarmed by a loud knocking at the castle door.
When the drunken porter of Macbeth’s castle finally responds to the noise, he opens the door to Macduff, a loyal follower of the king, who has been asked to awake Duncan in preparation for the return journey. Macbeth indicates the location of the king’s room, and Macduff discovers the body. When the murder is revealed, Macbeth swiftly kills the prime witnesses, the sleepy guards of the king’s bedchamber, and Lady Macbeth faints. The assembled lords of Scotland, including Macbeth, swear to avenge the murder. With suspicion heavy in the air, the king’s two sons flee the country: Donalbain to Ireland and Malcolm to raise an army in England. Macbeth is duly proclaimed the new king of Scotland, but recalling the Witches’ second prophecy, he arranges the murder of his fellow soldier Banquo and his son Fleance, both of whom represent a threat to his kingship according to the Witches’ prophecy. The hired murderers kill Banquo but mistakenly allow Fleance to escape. At a celebratory banquet that night, Macbeth is thrown into a state of horror when the ghost of the murdered Banquo appears at the dining table. Again, his wife tries to strengthen Macbeth, but the strain is clearly beginning to show.
The following day, Macbeth returns to the same Witches who initially foretold his destiny. This time, the Witches not only confirm that the sons of Banquo will rule in Scotland, but they also add a new prophecy: Macbeth will be invincible in battle until the time when the forest of Birnam moves towards his stronghold at Dunsinane and until he meets an enemy “not born of woman”. Dismissing both of these predictions as nonsense, Macbeth prepares for invasion.
When he is told, that Macduff has deserted him, Macbeth begins the final stage of his tragic descent. His first move is the destruction of Macduff’s wife and children. In England, Macduff receives the news at the very moment that he swears his allegiance to the young Malcolm. Malcolm persuades him that the murder of his family should act as the spur to revenge.
Meanwhile, in Scotland, Lady Macbeth has been taken ill: She walks in her sleep and seems to recall, in fragmentary memories, the details of the murder. Now, in a series of alternating scenes, the action of the play moves rapidly between the advancing army of Malcolm and the defensive preparations of Macbeth. When Malcolm’s army disguise themselves with sawn-off branches, Macbeth sees what appears to be a wood moving towards his stronghold at Dunsinane. And when he finally meets Macduff in single combat, his sworn enemy reveals that he came into the world by cesarean section; he was not, precisely speaking, “born of woman”. On hearing this news, Macbeth rejects one final time the Witches’ prophecy. With a loud cry, he launches himself at Macduff and is slain. In the final scene, Malcolm is crowned as the new king of Scotland, to the acclaim of all
Macbeth and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common psychological condition that is triggered by terrifying events. This disorder compels the inhibitor to have severe anxiety, flashbacks and negative fluctuations in mood. Likewise, in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there is clear evidence of how guilt, wickedness and atrocity can also cause symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as negative actions and instinctive weaknesses can cause cerebral degeneration. Macbeth’s innate flaws led to his ultimate mental deterioration.
The troubled mindset and degradation of Macbeth’s conscience, grants him to envision supernatural activities. Shortly before King Duncan’s murder, Macbeth vividly sees a floating dagger with its handle toward him. Macbeth exclaims, “Is this a dagger which I see before me,” as he tries to grab it, “The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.” (2.1.33-35) This short soliloquy demonstrates the disordered, and unbalanced mind of Macbeth. It also depicts Macbeth as an unwilling factor of fate, as he is no longer able to help himself in his disturbed state of mind. Another incidence of Macbeth’s hallucination pattern is when he sees the ghost of Banquo. Frightened in the sight of the ghost, Macbeth fearfully shouts, “Prithee, see there! Behold! Look! Lo! How say you? Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too. If charnel houses and our graves must send those that we bury back, our monuments shall be the maws of kites.” (3.4.72-76) This justifies the agony and torment that Macbeth is exhibiting in his mind. The ghost of Banquo is essentially a symbol of accusation and guilt, as Banquo was murdered under Macbeth’s order. However, in this scene Macbeth is the only individual who can see the ghost, which is another example of his mental breakdown as he is experiencing supernatural hallucinations. To sum up the noted idea, it is conspicuous that Macbeth’s unmistakable weaknesses are consuming his perception and conclusively leading to his mental degeneration, and in continuation enabling his ego and ambition to grow.
As Macbeth’s conscience decreases, his ambition and motivation escalates. Soon after getting away with the murder of King Duncan, and being crowned Scotland’s new King, his ambition and murderous rampage begins once again. This can be seen as Macbeth expeditiously orders for Banquo’s murder. “It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul’s flight, if it find heaven, must find it out tonight.” (3.1.146-147) This gruesome statement illustrates the desired motivation for the death of Banquo and his son, Fleance. Macbeth is scared of Banquo, as he knows that Banquo’s children are heirs to the throne of Scotland. Furthermore, Banquo was present when the witches proclaimed their prophecies, thus meaning Banquo always remains suspicious about Macbeth. As a result of these actions, Macbeth sees Banquo as a threat to himself and the future regime of Scotland. Similarly, another persistent example of ambition is when Macbeth is preparing for the murder of King Duncan. “Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, that tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur, to prick the sides of my intent,” Macbeth exclaims as he is building his confidence, “but only vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, and falls on th’ other.” (1.7.25-29) Macbeth is a coward, and constantly contemplates his actions. In this instance, he states that the only thing motivating him is ambition, and the gains of success. Likewise, ambition is seen as an important aspect of human psychology. According to Abraham Maslow, a PhD in psychology, “the most basic needs must be satisfied before successively higher needs can emerge”. This theory is clearly demonstrated as Macbeth slays King Duncan, in order to become King, then proceeds to kill anyone else that is a threat. Lastly, it is indisputable that Macbeth gains confidence and ambition. However, his ambition causes continuous negative psychological deterioration. In correlation, due to his cerebral dysfunction, he begins to lose faith in mankind.
As Macbeth loses his compassionate traits, and diminished mentally; he also loses his trust in humanity. The most discernible example of Macbeth’s receding assurance in society is the murder of King Duncan. Well known as a prosperous man and free of corruption, King Duncan is seen as a great leader to Scotland. Macbeth himself indeed states, “Besides, this Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office.” (1.7.17-19) Macbeth greatly exclaims his love for Duncan, and applauds him as a generous King, who does not abuse his powers. He recognizes that Duncan does not deserve to die, but it is necessary for his ambition in order to become King. This clear exposition, establishes the fact that Macbeth recognizes his wrongful actions, however due to the fact that he no longer holds trust in humanity, he is unconcerned about his immoral behavior. Another undeniable pattern, of Macbeth’s disoriented faith in humanity is when he initiates the fact that there is no meaning to life. “Life’s but a walking shadow,” Macbeth acknowledges wistfully, “a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.” (5.5.24-26) In this grievous reference, Macbeth inevitably professes that life is nothing more than an illusion. His words are devoid of any emotion and meaning. It is perceptible that Macbeth ultimately recognizes the futile life he has attained, and his loss in humankind. In addition, this mindset corresponds with PhD in social philosophy, B.F Skinner who created the theory regarding free will and negative consequences. He stated, “An individual’s personality is developed through external stimuli.” This demonstrates the clear analogy between Macbeth’s exposures with extraneous activities, and how his personality was able to change and adapt to such negative aspects. Conclusively, it is visible that Macbeth’s actions lead to his dismay in humanity, and furthermore his apathetic behavior toward Lady Macbeth.
Macbeth’s mental breakdown causes the isolation between himself and Lady Macbeth. After the bloodshed of King Duncan, Macbeth no longer seeks encouragement from Lady Macbeth, and they grow apart. With every murder, Lady Macbeth grows insane and drowns in guilt, while Macbeth’s ego grows to an indefinite end. As Macbeth is conversing with the doctor about his troubled wife, he tells the doctor, “Cure her of that. Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,” as he is preparing his armor and suiting up for battle, “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?” (5.3.41-47) In this peculiar discussion, Macbeth pays no attention to what the doctor is disclosing, and instead he hastily prompts to prescribe drugs to Lady Macbeth to make her forget her mind and erase her heart. Uncaringly, he even commands the doctor to suit up for battle, being completely oblivious of the fact that his wife is extremely ill. In the same manner, when Lady Macbeth is announced dead, Macbeth shrugs it off saying, “She should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time.” (5.5.17-21) This confession shows just how callous Macbeth has become. He is insensitive to the fact that his own wife has died, and instead remarks that it is no surprise, her death would have come soon anyways. This is a clear exposition of Macbeth’s degrading state of mind, shows how much he has regressed. In summary, it is conspicuous that Macbeth’s mental breakdown has corroded the relationship between him and Lady Macbeth and furthermore, has led to his delusional mentality.
Macbeth has become completely paranoid by the prophesies of the Witches, which has caused him to become delusional, and mentally ill. The Three Witches stated that no man born from a woman, and no army will ever be able to defeat Macbeth. Yet, they mention that the only way Macbeth will be overthrown is if the forest moves up to the Castle. Throughout the entire play, the witches speak in riddles and paradoxes, which bewilder, and deceive Macbeth. Unworried by the tense atmosphere Macbeth expresses, “Bring me no more reports. Let them fly all. Till Birnam Wood remove to Dunsinane. I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know, all mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: ‘Fear not, Macbeth. No man that’s born of woman shall e’er have power upon thee.’” (5.3.1-8) This short monologue shows the confidence and courage Macbeth posses, due to the Witches’ testaments. Macbeth weaknesses led him to be deluded, into believing that he is invincible. The weird sisters constantly deceive Macbeth, by letting him jump to conclusions about their visions, which conclusively led to his mental disintegration. Decisively, when the army has reached Macbeth’s castle he bravely recites, “I’ll fight till from my bones,” he shouts, holding his sword bravely, “my flesh be hacked. Give me my armor.” (5.3.33-34) At this point in time, Macbeth is seemingly infatuated with the predicaments of the witches and completely is ignorant to the veracity of the situation, as he thinks he is untouchable. However, Macbeth finds out that the prophecies are spellbound and forms of deception, which essentially drive him mad, as he begins to grasp the notion of the weird sisters. Karl L. Kahlbaum, a German psychiatrist stated, “In most paranoid delusions, the individual believes that there is a pattern to random events which is somehow connected him.” This theory of paranoid delusions, relates directly to Macbeth and his mindset, as he believes the witches’ tributes tie directly to him, and therefore must be true. Finally, it is apparent that Macbeth’s delusional and paranoid conscience mislead him into psychological decline.
In conclusion, Macbeth’s inherent weaknesses ultimately lead to his destiny and mental depravity. Firstly, his patterns of constant hallucinations and supernatural viewings commence his paranoia to display. Similarly, his ceaseless ambition and selfish motivational approaches caused continuous harm to Macbeth and others around him. Thirdly, Macbeth’s diminishing state of mind, subsequently caused him to lose faith in humanity and in continuation obliterate his relationship with Lady Macbeth. Finally, Macbeth’s paranoid, and delusional state of mind led to his overall mental deterioration and evidently his annihilation.
McGirk, Tim. “The Hell Of PTSD.” Time 174.21 (2009): 40. History Reference Center. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
“Motivation.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1. History Reference Center. Web. 29 Nov. 2014.
“Paranoia.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1. History Reference Center. Web. 30 Nov. 2014.
“Personality.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2013): 1. History Reference Center. Web. 30 Nov. 2014. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg, 1999. Print.
Three witches in Scottland
On a heath in Scotland, three witches, the weird sisters, wait to meet “Macbeth” amidst thunder and lightning. Their conversation is filled with paradox and equivocation: “when the battle’s lost and won”(1/1/4)and when “fair is foul and foul is fair”(1/1/11).The Scottish army is at war with the Norwegian army. “Duncan”, king of Scottland, meets a captain returning from battle.
The captain informs them of “Macbeth’s” and “Banquo’s” bravery in battle. He also describes “Macbeth’s “attack on the castle of the treacherous Macdonald, in which “Macbeth” triumphed and planted Macdonald’s head on the battlements of the castle. The Thanes of “Ross” and “Angus” enter with the news that the Thane of Cawdor has sided with Norway. “Duncan” decides to execute the disloyal thane and give the title of Cawdor to “Macbeth”.
The weird sisters meet on the heath and wait for “Macbeth”. He arrives with “Banquo”, repeating the witches’ paradoxical phrase by stating “So foul and fair a day I have not seen”(1/3/38). The witches hail him as “Thane of glamis, Thane of Cawdor and king hereafter”.(1/3/48,49,50).Their greeting startles and seems to frighten “Macbeth”. When “Banquo” questions the witches as to who they are, they greet him with the phrases “Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction”(1/3/54,55).
When “Macbeth” questions them further the witches vanish into thin air. “Ross” and “Angus” appear with the news that the king has granted “Macbeth” the title of Thane of Cawdor. “Banquo” is almost shocked from the statement he heard and ask’s “What, can the devil speak true?”(1/3/108). After the conversation “Macbeth” has thoughts of terror to murdering the king in order to fulfill the witche’s second prophesy. “My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical”.(1/3/139).When “Ross” and “Angus” notice “Macbeth’s” distraught state, “Banquo” dismisses it as “Macbeth’s” unfamiliarity with his new title. Back to “Duncan”, who wants to know if the Thane of Cawdor is dead.
He is, and he confessed to being a traitor right before he died. “Macbeth”, “Banquo, “Ross” and “Angus” now meet the king. The king is grateful, “Macbeth” and “Banquo” pledge their loyalty, group hug all around. The king announces that his son “Malcolm” will be named Prince of Cumberland, which is the last stop before being king of Scottland. They all celebrate the good news at “Macbeth’s” place. “Macbeth” trots off thinking “Malcolm” is all that stands in the way of his kingship. He is thinking naughty thoughts again and hopes nobody can tell that he’s got “black and deep desires”(1/4/51).
In Inverness, “Macbeth’s” castle, “Lady Macbeth” reads to herself a letter she has received from “Macbeth” he tells his wife that “Duncan” plans to depart the next day, but “Lady Macbeth” declares that the king will never see tomorrow. “Duncan” arrives at Inverness with “Banquo” and exchanges pleasantries with “Lady Macbeth”. The king inquires after “Macbeth’s” where abouts and she offers to bring him to where “Macbeth” awaits. “Macbeth” declares that he no longer intends to kill “Duncan”. Then she tells him her plan while “Duncan” sleeps, she will give his guards wine to make them drunk and then she and “Macbeth” can slip in and murder “Duncan” and then blame it on the guards.
Play Review: Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Macbeth was one of the most famous plays in generations, it was written in the early 1600s by William Shakespeare. The setting of the play took place in Scotland, narrating a story about a guy named Macbeth and how his ambition leads to a tragic downfall. At first, he was an honourable and courageous man, trusted by people and even called the king’s “kinsman”. But then, his greed is inspired by listening to the witches’ prophecies and Lady Macbeth’s support to kill King Duncan. Blood is one of the motifs Shakespeare uses most throughout this play in order to portray clearly the unending guilt of Macbeth.
The blood motif first appeared in the start of the play by a wounded captain to showed Macbeth courage and loyalty, by battling against the rival without mercy on the battlefield in order to protect King Duncan.
“For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name – Disdaining Fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valor’s minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave. ” ( Act 1, scene 2, lines 16-21 )
The use of blood in this scene seems to elevate his portrait as a heroic character. But as the play goes on, Macbeth’s image with blood changes together with his’ characteristics. He hallucinates a floating knife in front of him before attempting to murder the king: “I see thee still. And, on thy blade and dudgeon, gouts of blood. Which was not so before” (Act 2, scene 1, lines 57-59).
He also tries to reassure himself, saying that “There’s no such thing: / It is the bloody business which informs / Thus to mine eyes” (Act 2, scene 1, lines 59-61). The bloody business refers to the murder he is about to commit. This scene is the significant turning twist of the play, which shows the beginning of Macbeth’s character transformation to a evil, treacherous and merciless tyrant. The image of blood symbolizes the treason, ambition and murder, contrasting what it meant earlier in the play. It is now associated with pure evil.
Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red. (2.2.78-81)
This illustrates how the act of murder has changed Macbeth’s character, turning him into a man full of guilt and remorse. However, he does not stop at one murder but, out of paranoia and ambition, those who tries to solidify his position as a king and get rid of anyone standing in his way. The image of blood continues to haunt Macbeth as the ghost of murdered Banquo shows up at his feast. Shocked by the appearance of the ghost, he exclaims, “I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er” (Act 3, scene, lines 168-170). This shows how dramatically Macbeth’s character has changed – he has stepped so far into the world of evil that it is impossible for him to redeem himself and return to righteousness, regardless of how guilty he might feel.
Also, worth mentioning is the blood motif that associated with Lady Macbeth, she was obsessed with her killing King’s Duncan. The blood hallucinates and drives Lady Macbeth crazy. ” Out, damned spot! Out, I say! ” ( Act 5, scene 1, lines 25 ). Furthermore, ” Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! Oh! Oh! ” ( Act 5, scene 1, lines 46-47 ). Lady Macbeth is incapable of washing away her ‘bloody guilt’. She is full of remorse and resentment and the ‘smell’ of the guilty and shameful blood will never be ‘sweetened’.
Shakespeare uses the image of blood is to elevate the audience’s understanding about Macbeth and his character transformation. At the beginning, he is as a noble and trustworthy person, but then Macbeth turns treacherous and ambitious, finally, he becomes a man full of remorse and guilt for his continuous crime. On the other hand, blood motifs is also used by the author in order to evoke a dramatic reaction from the audience. By bringing the image of blood on stage and making it virtually visual, from the bleeding hands to the beheaded Macbeth at the end, Shakespeare succeeds in making his play easier to relate to and for the audience to really immerse into the action, rather than just observers of a normal play.
Lyndon B. Johnson or Macbeth
Macbeth or Lyndon B. Johnson The King was a beloved leader who was unreasonably killed by a person they believed were loyal to them. The accused murder is innocent and those who were in-charge of his safety did not fulfill their promise. The leader’s successor will take his place soon after and the citizens would not suspect the culprit. The successor felt he had achieved what was rightfully his. You might think this sounds like a plot from a fictional story, but that’s because it is derived from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. What actually might surprise you is that the 17th century tragedy was mimicked by one of the most controversial events in U.S. history, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. President Kennedy’s North American tour through Dallas on November 22, 1963 was cut short when a sniper, Lee Harvey Oswald, shot him from the sixth story of the infamous Book Depository building.
The F.B.I. thought it was it was a one-man plot that pointed towards Oswald. Many theories have surrounded by this assassination. The most famous of the theories, has always been the one that tied Lyndon B. Johnson to the tragic event. The plot would be riddled with deceit and torment, much like the tale of Macbeth. Although the stories’ characters have different names, the motive and outcome are eerily similar. Once a conspiracy theory in history, current events are uncovering that the tragedy of JFK at the hand of Lyndon B. Johnson may not be theory any longer.
These circumstances suggest that the events which happened in the Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth are still possible. It is possible for the plot of the well-known tragedy to be repeated in the modern 20th century America. That being said no protection provides absolute and total safety, many men are still willing to commit the crimes Macbeth did get what they want, and the act could still be covered up by a simple and believable alibi and a fall guy. In today’s world, it is easier than ever to plan and execute a murder. Any person can buy a cheap pistol, pull a trigger, and kill someone. It is also much easier to kill a person without being caught. There are long range rifles and remote control explosives that can be used as the murder weapon while the one behind it is far away from the scene. Also, it is easier than ever to find a professional assassin who will kill anyone for a very large amount of money. These latter methods could allow a person to commit murder and get away with it. Even though the actual murderer may be caught, the person financing the undertaking could very well get away untouched. In Macbeth, Duncan was extremely well protected by his guards.
However, he was still brutally murdered. The guards were overpowered by a very simple trick. “The doors are open, and the surfeited grooms Do mock their charge with snores. I have drugged their possets…” says Lady Macbeth. She had seduced the men and drugged their drinks, instead of guarding Duncan, they were asleep. Macbeth was easily able to sneak past them, undetected and kill Duncan. Every precaution that could be imagined had been taken to guarantee the beloved king, Duncan’s protection. It is not an easy endeavor to get past two armed bodyguards in an exceptionally constricted area. However, through some double-dealing, Macbeth was able to accomplish this.
This reawakens the statement that no amount of protection is unmitigated. Imaginably the best example that no protection is foolproof manifests in the preceding situation entangle the former President Kennedy. Kennedy was in a moving vehicle. There were two trained Secret Service men directly behind him in another vehicle and countless other service men in the crowd. Dallas Police Department officers were allocating throughout the area for his protection. Dealey Plaza, the site of the tragedy, was very populous, with many objects blocking a clear shot such as trees, signs, and an overpass. Protection was tight. The day was beautiful. The sun was shining.
The setting was not right for an assassination. Nonetheless, it still occurred. Kennedy was killed and the entire nation bewildered. There was a Secret Service agent exceedingly close, yet he was not able to stop the fatal shot. The limousine driver did not accelerate in enough time to get the President out of danger. The agents in the crowd were unable to inhibit the deadly shots. With that many people, with all those precautions taken, President Kennedy was still killed, proving that protection can be pervaded. Since the beginning of time, man has always wanted power. It is in his primitive nature. It is what drives humans. The history of the world minister to uphold this fact. In the bible, many have read the story of Adam and eve wanted the power god had so the sacrificed everything they had just for the chance that they could gain power equal to that of gods. that being we see in one of the most read books in history that man is willing to trade everything they have for more power.
The main character from the tragedy Macbeth loved power. he in fact had a thirst for power or he never would have killed King Duncan. Macbeth was prepared to trade anything to be king. Macbeth was predisposed to “…jump the life to come.” if he could murder Duncan and be done with it. He was willing to expose himself to eternal damnation for a limited term as king of a small country on a minuscule island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Comparative Study on Two Versions of Macbeth
Macbeth has been performed by many different groups and companies throughout the years because it is perhaps one of the most potent political statements in Western drama, and perhaps one of Shakespeare’s best scripts. Though the PBS and RSC versions of the play have many differences, they are still brilliant interpretations of the play. Through excellent acting as well as scenery and sound effects they transport us into the play giving the characters’ life and raw emotion that is essential to theater. Even though both plays differentiate in many ways, they are still incredibly similar in the fact that they keep Macbeth as the main character, have a hierarchy and most importantly, keep the plot that same as in the original script as a solemn tribute to Shakespeare.
The 2010 variant of Macbeth is set in a substitute history, battle ready Scotland. The day and age could be anyplace from the 1940s to the 1950s. Numerous fast clasps are appeared of howitzers and other vast weapons of war. A great many troopers are seen parading through huge focal squares, like scenes from Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. This version of the play also keeps the discourse of a traditional Shakespearian play. Because of this, the play/movie has a very long run time. This film was formulated to give a play that was based in Shakespeare time, a modernistic approach and viewpoint. The intermingling of both the past and the present in this film was done in an interesting way. Even in the first couple scenes the language and the actions of the characters portrays Shakespeare as opposed to how they would have spoken or acted during those times. Some of the effects during the film added to the suspense, effect, and drama of the play but it also took away from the language sometimes because it was distracting. Another change in the play that differs from the original version would be how instead of the three witches being witches, they are instead portrayed as evil, nurses.
As for the RSC version of the play, only 100 people viewed this rendition at first. There was a finite amount of money that was spent on the props, costumes, and scenery. Because of the lack of funds diverted to costumes, props, etc. there was more money and time to focus on the actors. There was a very select cast with many of them playing multiple roles due to the short cast list. The weapons that were used during this performance were from Shakespeare’s time, showing that the play is portrayed during Shakespeare’s time. The background of the set and the scenery is dark, gloomy and smoky with a relative spotlight on the actors, strictly drawing the eye straight to them. The characters themselves are incredibly dramatic with their voices booming and their acting so diverse and artistic that it drew the audience into the play. The cast worked very well together, practically in a circle, each drawing off their fellow actor’s brilliance and using that to make themselves appear more magnanimous and incredible.
In both plays, fear was present in the audience during certain scenes because they were so dramatic and intense that it felt like we were there. During the performances, there was also a sense of constraint. This made it seem like the actors were constantly holding back raw emotions on the inside; this was masterfully done because, in Macbeth, not everything could be said all the time because of circumstances, so the constraint properly portrayed the feelings of holding back that the actual characters in the play must have felt. Macbeth in the original play was the main character and was viewed as having a higher standing so to speak than the other characters in the book and by his subordinates. This analysis shows that though the film/movies themselves were very different from the original production of Macbeth, there were still many similarities that can be found. Another is how at the beginning of the PBS version of the play, many of the lines spoken and the situations around them was directly parallel to the original script. In the RSC version, theiweaponry and dress was the same as the original script showing a loyalty to it. One of the principal similarities between the play and movie to the script is that they stayed true to the plot of the original script. This shows that even though Shakespeare was writing hundreds of years ago he still holds sway over a lot of writers today and the writers hold him in such high regard that they would not dare to alter one of his best and most prominent plays.
Macbeth, as one of Shakespeare’s most revered plays, has been re-enacted many times and in many ways. The RSC and PBS versions of the plays portray all the different possible ways the play can be acted out. These two different formats render Shakespeare’s play down to the essentials then they build the play back up from their own views, giving the play a uniqueness to each separate different performance. The plot staying the same though, in every script, even though many changes can be made to the play, shows the respect and reverence that they hold for Shakespeare is incredible.