,1 ENG 3U104 December 3, 2013 Macbeth Essay: Macbeth By William Shakespeare Shakespeare’s Three Witches, or Weird Sisters, are very important characters within his timeless tale of Macbeth. The Witches answer to the “fates of mythology” (Dover Wilson) by showing people prophecies and apparitions. These Witches are more important within the play than people understand. They have a calamitous affect on the protagonist within Macbeth, and all the characters associated with him. After a protracted discussion of the topic of who is to blame for the demise of Macbeth, the blame has come to rest upon the Three Witches.
However, because Lady Macbeth has ambition beyond her status, she wants him to become King as soon as possible. The only problem for Lady Macbeth is she feels Macbeth is too nice to kill Duncan. She says “it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness”, which shows Lady Macbeth thinks of her husband as a coward. The soliloquy used by Shakespeare truly shows the disturbed mind of Lady Macbeth; creating an unsettling affect on the audience through his representation of her as a scheming and dangerous character. The use of imagery reveals that witchcraft was a fascination of Elizabethan England.
Three major themes Shakespeare exposed are: greed for power can corrupt human behaviour; feelings of guilt can burden the human mind and cause mental breakdowns; receiving a position that is undeserved would cause the human mind to feel uncomfortable. Early on Macbeth was told by the three witches that he, the thane of Glamis, would also be named thane of Cawdor and then would be soon crowned King. When Macbeth was given the title, thane of Cawdor, he became very aware that the rest of the witches’ prophecy may be accurate as well. However, it wasn’t until after Macbeth was crowned King that the power corrupted him. It was Lady Macbeth who had planned King Duncan’s murder and the framing of the guards because Macbeth was too worried about the consequences.
While this may not seem to be controlling, the mental affect on Macbeth was more damaging then anything they could have imagined. Macbeth’s mental state from the beginning when they first said the prophecy went on a massive decline sanity wise, were Macbeth could only think about how the witches predicted Banquo’s descendents to take the throne. Later on in the play, an apparition that the witches had summoned up for Macbeth says, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff!
It seems that most people believe that Macbeth is the real villain of the play, after firstly killing the King but then Banquo and Macduff’s family but through Macbeth’s own ambition and desire for power, Lady Macbeth was able to manipulate and evoke weaknesses in Macbeth’s character to cause his respectable needs as a loyal solider, to turn into evil motivations. In the course of the play Macbeth’s mind changes from thinking logically to thinking unreasonably and acting impulsively on every thought that comes to his mind. The ideas that Lady Macbeth had and the prophesies from the witches came together to lead Macbeth into the conflicted character he become, going from a loyal, respected soldier into a tragic flawed hero. Before Macbeth’s character shifted into villainy he was a loyal and respected thane. His desire for power grew throughout the play and begins when he first encoumis, then they hail him the thane of Cawdor, which he didn’t yet know of, to him soon would be his next, second title.
In the critical essay, Be Bloody, bold and resolute: Tragic Action and Sexual Stereotyping in Macbeth, Carolyn Asp states “Lady Macbeth consciously attempts to reject her feminine sensibility and adopt a male mentality because she perceives that her society equates feminine qualities with weakness” (Be Bloody 2). This stereotype is very popular nowadays as well. Many women are stereotyped as being weaker than men. Lady Macbeth proves this stereotype as the opposite the first time she is introduced in the play. As she reads Macbeth’s letter he has sent her, her mind is already planning ways of gaining more power to become queen.
In other words, Lady Macbeth defies her own nature by adopting cruelty which is opposite to her nature, in order to become evil. Shakespeare presents a woman whose focus is not on womanly features. Lady Macbeth is trying hard to make it clear that to be evil, she simply has to abandon her womanly nature. There is though, a target that makes her decide to be as evil as, probably, the Thane of Cawdor, who happens to be the first traitor in the play. It is the crown that she wishes her husband would wear so that she can be queen.
The three witches are to some degree responsible for Macbeth’s demise. In Shakespearean era, the people were increasingly preoccupied with witches and witchcraft. They acknowledged witches and their supernatural powers. Thus Macbeth Becomes by predicting that Macbeth will be king, prompting him to become king at all cost. Nevertheless, it is the innate evil in Macbeth that makes him curious about their predictions.
Despite their underlying pressure throughout the play, the language that the witches use with each other is some of Shakespeare’s most dramatically engaging and disturbing. The line with which they close the opening scene: ‘Fair is foul and foul is fair, hiver though the fog and the filthy air’, indicates his play with the natural order. The imbalance of what is sane in the world. As indicated through the inversion in gender as seen in Lady Macbeth, or sanity, in Macbeth himself. Patriarchal society encourages Lady Macbeth to invest herself in the role of mother.
Then she insults his masculinity and questions his courage. Her talent for persuasiveness and deception starts a chain of destructive events and she definitely contributed to the conversion of Macbeth from well respected soldier to a repugnant, bloody tyrant. Lady Macbeth is undoubtedly a woman “of direst cruelty” and had largely a negative impact on Macbeth. At the start of the play Macbeth had the potential for greatness but because of Lady Macbeth influence this potential remained unfulfilled. If he continued on the ethical path he was on he very well may have rose in rank importance without his stir.