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Essay: Macbeth – An Analysis

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  • Subject area(s): English literature essays
  • Reading time: 4 minutes
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  • Published: January 12, 2020*
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  • Number of pages: 2
  • Macbeth - An Analysis
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Macbeth was written by William Shakespeare during the Elizabethan Age and during that time the people believed that there were witches and dark magic. Therefore, they believed in the supernatural and as a result the play consists of supernatural element and how the supernatural convinces Macbeth’s downfall. However, the first scene itself brings out how the drama is brought about by the witches. We are also given an insight into the powers of the witches and their control over nature. The first two scenes provide a dramatic significance in the play Macbeth.
The first scene is very significant to the play because there is an insight to the horror, crimes and punishments that can witches can impose on people and this theme is prevalent throughout the play. It is also shown that the witches are not ordinary, they can bring downfall and destruction and can mislead people to grave consequences. We are then introduced to the main character of the play and that is Macbeth. The play shows his bravery in the battle and how he saved King Duncan’s son.
As Macbeth is praised by everyone around him, the witches decide to have an encounter with him and they decide to influence him. The key note in the play is “fair is foul and foul is fair. (I, i, 12) ” This line is significant because the whole drama revolves around this line. Basically, a mortal man may think what is fair is actually not and vice versa. This means that the witches control people and can influence or direct people into wrong paths causing them to their downfall. The witches seems to sow seeds of evil in this scene to provide readers with an idea as to what will enfold further in the play.
William Shakespeare has brilliantly introduced the witches in the play. When they are just about to arrive, there is inclement weather. Literature has always described inclement or bad weather to be a sign of evil. Also, the witches are standing on the heath. A heath is a place where the vegetation has been destroyed and the land is infertile. The location of this scene is given as a heath near the battlefield which suggests that the witches are able to create destruction wherever they go.
This scene is also important because the witches refer to a battle that will take place in the future which is true and also at the same time Macbeth who initially is the hero of the play just returns from a battle. This suggests a significant connection between the Macbeth and the witches. The future scenes show the role of Macbeth and his future inextricably connected with it.
As we approach the next scene, the witches just appear before Macbeth and Banquo and give prophecies to both. They tell Macbeth that he would be the Thane of Cawdor and king hereafter. This scene is significant because hereon the witches are planning a downfall for Macbeth. The line “Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter (I, iii, 48)” makes Macbeth think of the prophecies and he is lost in deep thought. At the same time the witches tell Banquo that his sons will be the kings after Macbeth. This particular scene provides a difference between the characters of Macbeth and Banquo. Macbeth seems to be a greedy person and at the same time gullible to what the witches’ prophecies. However, Banquo is more rational thinking and does not believe the witches and he knows that the evil sisters should not be trusted.
When the king gives the Thane of Cawdor title to Macbeth, he immediately believes that the prophecy of him becoming king will be true. Macbeth who already has an ambition to become the king is lost in thoughts and wants this prophecy also to be true. The witches in this play are shown to be an embodiment of evil. They do all the mischief and enjoy at people’s downfall. Shakespeare already shows us in the play that Macbeth gets an idea to commit something foul. His first words at the end of the second scene are “so fair and foul a day I have not seen (I, i, 36)” closely echo the words of the witches “fair is foul and foul is fair.”
No doubt the seed of foul ambition was already in Macbeth’s heart but the prophecy helped it to sprout. He is so obsesses at the thought of becoming the next king that he sends his wife a letter about the witches’ prophecies. Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth is considered by many to be the fourth witch as she helps Macbeth to achieve the title of the king and continuously convinces him to commit foul deeds with her words and emotions.
Although Macbeth is convinced to murder King Duncan, he has to follow up with the murders of Banquo and other foul deeds to be in this position. As a result, the witches get what they wanted and they convinced Macbeth to commit foul deeds. The witches played with their words and gave him a false sense of security throughout the play. They gave him the Thane of Cawdor prophecy but the King was given not because it would be but instead because they wanted him to act on that and fall. At the end of the play, we see Macbeth admitting that the witches should not be trusted and it is better to do good deeds than bad. Macbeth initially from a hero becomes the villain and causes his own downfall. Just before dying in the play, Macbeth acknowledges that good deeds will get support from other people and respect from others. However, committing bad deeds will have people on your side only because of fear; people did not respect Macbeth, he had to command respect from other people. One of the main moral learnt in this play is that the more a person feels secured, the more he is unsecured.

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