Ambiguity and Equivocation in Macbeth

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Ambiguity and Equivocation in Macbeth Macbeth's voluntary misinterpretation of the ambiguity and equivocation of the witches relates to the play's theme, which states that uncontrolled desire for power often leads to irregular or violent actions, resulting in death and or destruction. After the first of the witches' prophecies comes true, Macbeth begins to believe in their truth. However, he also believes that the prophecies must all lead to his enrichment and empowerment. To that end, he twists the witches' words to fit his own purposes, ignoring the possibility that the prophecies might have other, less fortunate meanings. This voluntary misinterpretation, committed in pursuit of power, leads Macbeth to perform certain actions which result in the death of the king, Macbeth's friends, and eventually his own death. From the beginning of the play, Macbeth desires great power. Lady Macbeth's statement to Macbeth that "When you durst do it, then you were a man;" (I.vii.55) suggests that she and Macbeth have contemplated and possibly committed murder for the sake of advancement before. Macbeth provides further support for this in his reaction to the witches' prophecy that he will be king. After Macbeth is made Thane of Cawdor, he realizes that the witches were right, and immediately begins to ponder the other part of their prophecy. "My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical," (I.iii.153) he thinks, bringing murder to the front of his mind almost as soon as the witches are proven right. Later in the play, Macbeth's desire for power, encouraged by the witches, leads him to kill the king and assume the throne. Macbeth and his wife use ambiguity and equivocation themselves in pursuit of power. All our service / In every point twice done, and then done double, / Were poor and single business to contend / Against those honors deep and broad wherewith / Your Majesty loads our house. ( With this announcement, Lady Macbeth states that if all she could do in his service had been done four times over, it still would not do honor to the king. The ambiguous nature of this statement is that it is true even though she has not done everything she could. It is true, and so she gains the king's trust and goodwill through ambiguous honesty even though she plans to help Macbeth murder him. Macbeth issues a similar statement in the king's presence; he tells him "I'll be myself the harbinger, and make joyful the hearing of my wife with your approach;" his statement, like Lady Macbeth's, is technically true, but bears murderous intent. He will tell

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