The Witches, Mephistopheles and Sun Tzu

1922 Words8 Pages
Over the years academicians and scholars have argued on whether it was fate or personal choice which led Macbeth and Faustus to their respective dooms. Those who believed that Macbeth And Faustus were ultimately responsible for their own actions would point out their character flaws of pride and greed However, it should be noted that the witches and Mephastophilis were potent manipulators who may have borrowed a trick or two from Sun Tzu's famed treatise in bringing Macbeth and Faustus' downfalls. This essay will explore some of Sun Tzu's best known tactics and compare and contrast the ways each of the supernatural forces used them to their best advantage. "All warfare is based on deception."-Sun Tzu's Art of War. Deception is one of the main tactics used by dark forces in both Macbeth and Dr Faustus. Sun Tzu advocates luring enemies into a false sense of security. In Macbeth, the witches do lure Macbeth into a false sense of security by equivocating that is, by using ambiguous phrases which may mislead a person. Their equivocation can be clearly seen in the opening scene, where they juxtapose contrasting words in the same lines. “When the battle’s lost and won.” and “Fair is foul and foul is fair”. The usage of these opposing words together underlines the deceptive nature of their speech, and it is this very nature that succeeds in disorientating Macbeth. Shortly after the witches give him the prophecies, Macbeth states in his soliloquy :” This supernatural soliciting/Cannot be ill, cannot be good.” These lines highlight Macbeth’s state of inner conflict and turmoil, as he is indecisive and unsure of how to react to the witches’ predictions of him ascending the throne. This is important in establishing Macbeth as a tragic hero, as the witches undue influence on him lead him to his tragic error of judgment which would lead to his downfall. An example of
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