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Essay/Term paper: Macbeth 7

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Macbeth

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Macbeth - Essay

In the Shakespearean play, "Macbeth," the witches influence on how Macbeth
made his decisions played a crucial part in contributing to his eventual
destruction. The witches were trying to create chaos by prophesying to
Macbeth in order to get him to act. They planted the seed of evil in
Macbeth's head that grew to dominate his mind. But it was Macbeth who made
the choices that determined his fate. He was not forced to kill Duncan nor
any of his other victims. But after he murdered Duncan, Macbeth lost his
sanity. The witches were easily able to control his mind. They made him
believe that he was invincible, and then he willingly continued to fight
when he knew that it would mean his doom. Macbeth's downfall was planned by
the weird sisters, but it was Macbeth's own free will that lead him to it.

The three witches called the weird sisters are the root of the problem that
is the subject for this story. The weird sisters are creators of chaos by
nature. They associate with evil spirits and obey them, and they are
followers of the evil goddess, Hecate. In the play the witches, with their
spells, plan the downfall of Macbeth. They cannot directly harm him
themselves, so they tell Macbeth predictions for his possible future, in
order to make him act on them. The witches tell Macbeth that he will become
the thane of Cawdor and then king of Scotland. They poison his mind with
these prophesies, making him greedy and bringing out the evil qualities in
his soul. When the first of the promises is proven authentic, Macbeth then
considers the idea of murdering Duncan for the first time. This is his first
step on the journey to his demise, as the witches had planned.

The three witches' plan succeeded, they had aroused the greed in Macbeth,
allowing him to make the most important choice of the play - to kill Duncan.
Macbeth does not easily make this decision. In fact, at first he decides
against it, but, with the knowledge that he could be king, he could not help
himself from considering it. After constant persuasion from Lady Macbeth,
she and Macbeth finally made their decision. Lady Macbeth would load
Duncan's attendants with liquor, and then, on Lady Macbeth's signal, Macbeth
would creep into Duncan's chamber and slay him with his servant's weapons.
This act surges Macbeth forward on the direct path to his destruction.
Afterwards, when Duncan is discovered dead, Macbeth kills again when he
murders the servants who were guarding Duncan. Claiming he acted in rage
Macbeth kills the servants so that they cannot bear witness against him.
Macbeth's greed had taken control of him and he could not turn back. It only
took the one idea embedded into Macbeth's head to lead him toward corruption.

After Macbeth grows more sinful and overpowered with greed he does not make
any real attempt to change, and his conscious is bothered by this. Slowly
Macbeth loses grasp of his sanity and self-control. Being consumed with
power, Macbeth lets nothing stand in the way of his reign, because his reign
is all that he has left now. Macbeth's malevolence and deceptiveness are
shown further when he becomes so obsessed with the witches prophesies to his
friend, Banquo, that he decides to hire two men to kill him and his son. It
is not long before Macbeth's own ruthlessness begins to disturb him, greatly.
He suffers from troubled sleep, nightmares and loss of appetite, and he is
going insane. At a banquet in his castle Macbeth envisions Banquo's ghost
and gives a terrified reaction in front of his guests. Also because Macduff
does not attend the banquet and flees to England, Macbeth, in anger, decides
to have his family murdered. Later in the play Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth,
"I am in blood / Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more, / Returning
were as tedious as go o'er." This remark paints the image of Macbeth
swimming in a sea of blood, having proceeded so far that it is easier to
continue than to go back. Macbeth has lost hope. With regret, he feels that
he is past the point of no return, he has sinned so brutally and severely
that he is unable to atone for it.

Now that the witches have succeeded in bringing out Macbeth's evil qualities,
they are ready to finish their plot and make sure that Macbeth follows his
destiny to his downfall. With Hecate's guidance, the witches plan to lead
Macbeth to his death by making him feel overconfident. Macbeth goes to seek
the witches in a dark cave. When he finds them, they present him with three
apparitions. The first apparition appears as an armed head that says,
"Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; / Beware the thane of Fife." The
second apparition is a bloody child that tells Macbeth, "Be bloody, bold,
and resolute; laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none born of woman /
Shall harm Macbeth." Finally the third apparition, in the form of a child
with a crown on his head, holding a tree, tells Macbeth that he "Shall never
vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come
against him." Macbeth now feels assured that he cannot be killed because he
assumes that all people are born of a woman, and it is impossible for a
forest to move. He could never have guessed that the apparitions meant that
Macduff did not have a natural birth and that the English would use trees as
camouflage. This false confidence Macbeth was given was extremely important
to allow him to make his final decisions that resulted in his defeat.

The apparitions made an effect on Macbeth and he acts foolishly because of
them. When he is told that Macduff has fled to England, Macbeth, in fury,
orders his family murdered. This only strengthens Macduff's desire to
confront and kill Macbeth. When Macbeth finally realizes that he has been
deceived by the witches his overconfidence turns into arrogance. A messenger
reports to Macbeth that it appears that Birnam Wood is moving toward
Dunsinane, as the apparitions had warned Macbeth it would. But Macbeth now
is too determined to fight than to retreat, so he orders his soldiers to
attack. On the battlefield he feels trapped. But at the same time however,
he clings to the prophesy that he cannot by killed by anyone born of a woman.
When Macbeth is finally confronted by Macduff, Macduff explains that he was
delivered by caesarian section and thus, technically, not born. Now Macbeth
fully understands the deception of the witches and realizes that he destined
to die here. But when he is given the chance to live he does not take it, he
would rather die than live in shame. By free will, despite knowing that he
would probably die, Macbeth fights Macduff, and is slain.

It was Macbeth's free will, with the influence of the witches prophesies that
determined his destiny. Macbeth chose to kill Duncan, chose to kill his
servants, Banquo, and Macduff's family, and chose to fight to his death. And
he was not forced to do so, he took each step on the path to his destruction
by choice. Even though Macbeth seemed to have a predetermined fate, I don't
think that he was bound to it. I think he could have chosen to break away
from the direction he was heading at anytime, but just simply did not have
the willpower.
 

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