October 11, 2013
TA: Andrew Zulliani
Shakespeare’s play Macbeth is about a Scottish general, who is portrayed as a brave and loyal warrior yet, throughout the play, his desire for power and succession inclines. Macbeth’s noble character is altered when he first meets the three witches. The three “weird” witches tell him a prophecy that spurs an ambition inside of him, an ambition he did not seek beforehand. Macbeth takes time to reflect on his morals and principles, however Lady Macbeth’s controlling personality intersects this. Throughout Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, the “masculine” roles of Lady Macbeth and the witches govern Macbeth’s actions. The witches are the first to initiate the thoughts that end up consuming Macbeth’s innocent mind. When he first encounters the witches, he is sceptical of there existence; they don’t seem to be “inhabitants o’ th’ earth” (1.3.39). He also questions their gender; they have beards like men and bear a supernatural overbearing presence. Although Macbeth is uncertain of the witches’ motives, he is intrigued by their words, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king thereafter!” (1.3.50). While, Macbeth is drawn to these words and the thought of himself being king, he is still content with himself and claims ‘f chance will have me king, why chance may crown me/Without my stir." (1.3.157-159.). Moreover, in act 4 the witches reappear and they begin to strategically convey three apparitions to Macbeth. Knowingly, that Macbeth will not catch a full grasp of what they are saying this gives Macbeth a sense of false security to further pursue his position as king. The witches once again, are being true to their demonic nature and give Macbeth a misleading direction by their deceptive roles in the play. A prominent element to Macbeth’s downfall is the influence of Lady Macbeth. As soon as Lady Macbeth receives Macbeth’s letter, an evil is ignited in her to scheme and plot. She wants Macbeth to kill King Duncan for her own selfish needs. The thought of being queen is glorified to her, but she does not take into consideration the immorality of the action. Lady Macbeth entices Macbeth by emasculating him. He refuses to commit the murder before the arrival of King Duncan and she calls him a coward and goes on and says,
What beast was't then
That made you break this enterprise to me?
When you durst do it, then you were a man;
And, to be more than what you were, you would
Be so much more the man. Nor time, nore place,
Did then adhere and yet you would make both:
They have made themselves, and that their fitness now
Does unmake you. I have given such, and know how tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have pluck'd my nipple from the boneless gums,
And dash'd the brains out, had i so sworn
As you have done to this (1.7.48-59).
She calls Macbeth weak and unmanly, and convinces him that if he commits this action, he will be more of a man. She also claims that even she would kill her own child before breaking a promise to him. With this deceiving approach, Lady Macbeth succeeds to convince Macbeth. Macbeth holds a great value of trust in his wife; therefore Lady Macbeth is able to have more of an influence over Macbeth than the witches. The witches and Lady Macbeth are truly what coerce Macbeth’s behavior.
Lady Macbeth and the witches embody similar traits that allow them to rule Macbeth’s actions. The witches are seen as dark and uncanny individuals; Lady Macbeth can also be associated with a force of evil. At the beginning of the play, while Lady Macbeth is waiting on Macbeth, she calls on spirits similar to how a witch would “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty”(1.5.39-42). She is asking to