Effects of Equivocation in Macbeth

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The use of language is a powerful means to convince and alter one’s mind. In the play Macbeth, playwright William Shakespeare develops a tragic hero who succumbs to his weakness of persuasion from equivocation. We witness Macbeth’s journey from man to monster, and the causes of his dark metamorphosis. Shakespeare explores the effects and impacts of equivocation through Macbeth’s vulnerability to evil, overconfidence in dark forces, and irrational ambition.

Macbeth is a valiant solider who’s strange encounter with the weird sisters plants a seed of maliciousness in his vulnerable character. Macbeth was rapt by their mysterious authority to prophesize; his curiosity sought its benefits. Unlike Banquo, a friend who wanted little to do with supernatural activities, Macbeth was captivated by their truths. The witches had greeted him as Glamis, his current title, Cawdor, a title the audience in dramatic irony already knew was his, and King of Scotland hereafter. When a messenger confirms that Macbeth indeed received Cawdor, our hero is convinced that all the witches’ predictions will come true and believes he will be king. His susceptibility to their prophecies, in contrast to Banquo’s honorable stand for doing what is right depicts to us how gullible to equivocation Macbeth is. He does not realize that in striving to force his new found ambition of being king to come true, he has and will sacrifice his integrity and peace. He believes that the witches’ magical ability would bring him fortune, even though none of their prophecies states so. Macbeth fails to realize the witches never promised happiness, contentment, or safety in their words, but rather they managed to lure him in because he convinced himself that being ...

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...that he damns all who have faith in the dark forces, basically cursing at himself that he was able to be manipulated by evil. Macbeth begins to understand that he could not have it all, after all. Equivocation eventually fairly wins against our ambitious hero.
The consequences of equivocation can be observed through Macbeth’s vulnerability to evil, overconfidence in dark forces, and irrational ambition. An honourable man is destroyed before our very eyes as “instruments of darkness” deceive him by their warped honesty. Macbeth may have fallen by the supernatural’s malevolence, but he was truly forsaken due to his own selfish ambition to take what was not his. The temptation of words can prompt even the greatest hero to fail. Everyone faces trials such as equivocation; however, if one is willing, one can find the courage to define their identity themselves.
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