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Supernatural in Shakespeare’s Macbeth – The Witches and Lady Macbeth

Influence of the Witches and Lady Macbeth

The last person you would expect to encourage you to commit a crime would be your wife. Macbeth is motivated by his wife and by three Witches and gradually becomes more ruthless, evil, and murderous as the play progresses.

Lady Macbeth is first introduced in Act1 Scene 5: reading a letter receives from Macbeth describing the encounter with the Witches, and the prophecies which they given him. Lady Macbeth is very ambitious; believes that Macbeth is too kind and loyal to take the steps needed to become king. “Yet do I fear thy nature; it is too full o’ the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.” Lady Macbeth uses the weaknesses of Macbeth to convince him to kill King Duncan: she challenges his manhood “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” “Thou esteem’st the ornament of life and live a coward in thine own esteem.” She tries to make him feel guilt: Macbeth promised to kill Duncan he changes his mind. “What beast was’t, then that made break this enterprise to me”

In Macbeth the Witches are shown as being evil, conniving, and cruel. “Here I have a pilot’s thumb, wreck’d, as homeward he did come.” The Witches play a major role in convincing Macbeth to kill Duncan. They give Macbeth and Bonquo three prophecies: “all hail Macbeth hail to thee, thane of Cawdor” “all hail, Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter” “thou shalt get kings, though be none.” Bonquo doesn’t take these prophecies seriously, but Macbeth shows some ambition for power. “If chance will have me king, why, chance will crown me.” Macbeth becomes more dependent to the Witches. In Act 4 scene 1 Macbeth returns to the weird sisters, demanding what the future would bring. The Witches gave him three prophecies: “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff, beware the thane of Fife.” “none of woman born shall harm Macbeth” “Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill.”

As the play goes on Macbeth turns for the worse. He becomes more ruthless, evil, and murderous. After killing Duncan, Macbeth feels remorse and guilt. “To know my deed, ‘twere best not know myself. Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou could’st.” Not being able to return to Duncans room and place the knives is a show of weakness and remorse.

Free Macbeth Essays: The Essential Macduff

The Essential Macduff in Macbeth

Like in all (or most) Shakespeare plays, there is always a hero that overcomes evil supernatural forces. Macduff is this essential character in this play. His loyalty and patriotism to his dear country, Scotland, is more exceeding unlike the likes of the other Scottish nobles, Macduff was devastated by the murder of his dear king, and he also somewhat sacrifices his family for his country. These three transactions add up to one hell of an admirable hero.

Conflict of forces is reflected in the character of Macduff. Duncan’s murder is discovered by his loyal supporter Macduff. It is the intensity of his devotion to the king that brings him to the castle just at the time of the murder and makes him the first to see the dead body, “The Lord’s anointed temple” (Act II, Scene3, 67) as he calls it. Had Macduff’s loyalty been supported by corresponding strength he could have come in time to save Duncan. But as Duncan displays goodness and virtue without sufficient power to maintain his rule, Macduff’s capacity for pure loyalty is not combined with the strength required to express it. When soon afterwards he goes to England in support of Duncan’s son Malcolm, his wife and children are left to be murdered by Macbeth. His personality lacks the energy to sustain both the commitments of his loyal heart. In expressing his loyalty to the dead king he ignores his equally great commitment to protect his family.

Macduff returns from the scene of Duncan’s murder crying “O Horror, horror, horror!” (Act II, Scene3, 63) The response of the other lords is revealing. Lennox simply asks “Mean you his majesty?” (Act II, Scene3, 70), no more. The king’s sons arrive. Donalbain is silent. Malcolm says “O, by whom?” (Act II, Scene3, 100) Except for Macduff, there is no expression of horror, outrage or grief by those present.

In the interview with Lady Macduff, Ross describes her husband as “noble, wise, judicious” (Act IV, Scene2, 16) one whom “best knows the fits o’ the season” (Act IV, Scene2, 17). Why then, did Macduff leave his wife and family unprotected? Perhaps, there was a conflict of loyalties in- love of country vs. love of family- in his heart; realist though he was, Macduff may not have believed that Macbeth would stoop to such brutality and wickedness as the murder of women and children.

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