The Impact of The Supernatural on Macbeth's Actions in Shakespeare's Play
Corruption, fraud, and violence are a few of many aspects of human life that result from choosing the wrong path in one’s life. Proven by the robber barons of the 19th century, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt often dealt with the aspects of corruption, but these men’s reasoning for enacting in unethical tasks dealt with the belief that the ends justify the means. Even in today’s world, in the 21st century, citizens murder, steal, and lie to achieve their goals. In a similar sense, once Macbeth was aware of the possibility of becoming King of Scotland, he realized that he must do what is necessary to gain the throne, even if this means adjusting his morals. Macbeth’s actions, unlike citizens in today’s society, are not only strictly driven by corruption, but in addition, the actions are pushed by the supernatural aspects incorporated in the play. Throughout Macbeth, the play, the three witches’ prophecies, the three apparitions, and the bloody dagger are incorporated to test Macbeth.
Without the influence of the three witches, also referred to as the weïrd sisters, Macbeth would not have been devoted to kill King Duncan. As the play opens up, Macbeth’s courageousness, quick reactions, and helplessness aided in the victory of Scotland’s latest battle. As a result of helping Scotland, King Duncan now has a newfound respect and trust towards Macbeth and exclaims, “O valiant cousin, worthy gentlemen!” (1. 2. 26). In Act I, Scene III, Banquo and Macbeth are together walking and conversing until they both encounter three women, so while Banquo describes the women’s grotesque appearance, Macbeth proceeds to tell the women, if they are able to do so, to speak. Indeed, it appears the three women are witches, whom are the source of Macbeth’s eventual downfall. The first, second, and third witch prophesize Macbeth’s future by saying, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! /. . . Thane of Cawdor! /. . . king hereafter!” (1. 3. 51-53). Soon after, Ross and Angus arrive at the same location, but Macbeth and Banquo are rather shocked that now Macbeth has been dubbed Thane of Cawdor, meaning that the witches’ prophecy has come true. Later from Acts I-VII, Macbeth devises a plan to murder King Duncan to ensure his own gain of the throne, and by the beginning of Act VII, Macbeth has convinced Lady Macbeth, his wife, to be apart of the devious plan. Macbeth is willing to murder the king if it means that he can become king and take over Scotland, so as a result of the supernatural telling of the witches’ prophecy, the morals of Macbeth have been altered.
As Act IV settles in Macbeth, transformed by his own motives, ventures to find the three witches and force them to elaborate about his future, whereas in the beginning of the play, Macbeth garnered a respect towards the witches. Macbeth demanded that the apparitions tell him more detailed information, “I conjure you by that which you profess / (Howe’er you come to know it), answer me. ” (4. 1. 51-52), but instead the apparitions do not do so, which leads the first witch to tell Macbeth to shut his mouth. Before each apparition was announced, a clap of thunder arose. The first apparition, an Armed Head, says, “. . . Beware Macduff! / Beware the Thane of Fife!” (4. 1. 81-82), but the first apparition is quite contradictory to the second apparition, which is a Bloody Child, that says to “Be bloody, bold, and resolute. Laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth. ” (4. 1. 90-92). Due to the fact that Macduff does not seem to be a real harm, at first Macbeth claims that he sees no real reason to kill Macduff, but Macbeth’s suspicions rise and says aloud, “But yet I’ll make assurance double sure / And take a bond of fate. Thou shalt not live, / That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies, / And sleep in spite of thunder. ” (4. 1. 93-97). If there is the slightest possibility or inclination of having the throne stripped away from Macbeth, he will act upon it and decrease any chances of being dethroned. Moments after finding out Macduff fled to England, Macbeth decides that he will order murderers to kill the rest of Macduff’s family. The third and final apparition, a Child Crowned, with a tree in his hand, tells Macbeth to “Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care / Who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are. / Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill / Shall come against him. ” (4. 1. 103-107). Relieved there are no neighboring forests, Macbeth now feels as ease, because Macbeth now can peacefully inherit the throne. How do Macbeth’s actions justify the means?Murder is not an action that Macbeth would have committed before he met the three witches, which led him to discover the apparitions. Supernatural beings and characteristics may appear appealing to the naked eye, but was the loss of morality, relationships, and connections worth murdering multiple people?
Symbolic of the desire and guilt of wanting to murder King Duncan, a floating dagger appears in Act II, Scene I. Questions are raised about the realness of the dagger, and even Macbeth debriefs, “Is this a dagger which I see before me / The handle toward my hand?Come, let me clutch thee… / A dagger of the mind, a false creation / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?” (2. 1. 44-51). Could this dagger be a hint foreshadowing what Macbeth will eventually do with a dagger?In a way, the dagger can also be interpreted to warn Macbeth to back out of his plot to kill a perfectly honorable and worthy king. Rather than listening to his inner voice, Macbeth goes along with his original plan and murders Duncan in Act II, Scene II.
As Macbeth wrapped up, multiple people, including innocent women and children, the chamberlains, and King Duncan were killed. The lives lost were lost in vain because Macbeth did not necessarily gain anything from following the witches’ prophecy, apparitions, or dagger. To become the King of Scotland is all Macbeth had on his mind for weeks, but once he attempted to achieve said goal, he lost himself throughout the process. Is power worth the cost of losing the respect of the country that you wish to rule?The supernatural twisted Macbeth’s mental state causing him to enact in tasks, that would not have occurred otherwise. At what cost is bloodshed worth the gain of Macbeth’s semi-unacquirable target?Macbeth’s ambition clouded his own judgement, which allowed the supernatural to easily persuade him into doing such evil tasks.
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