Macbeth: Witches Influence on Macbeth's Decisions

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Macbeth: Witches Influence on Macbeth's Decisions


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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MLA Citation:
"Macbeth: Witches Influence on Macbeth's Decisions." 10 Dec 2016

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