The Character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play

The Character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play

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The Character of Macbeth in William Shakespeare's Play Macbeth is a man, influenced by supernatural powers, a manipulative
wife and a growing ambition.

One of the main influences on Macbeth is the supernatural. In
Shakespeare's time their preoccupation with supernatural forces, fear
existed in society about witches and their evil performance. This was
all linked in peoples everyday things like the weather which was often
misconstrued as a sign or a portent off evil. Hence, the significance
of the phrase

"Fair is foul, and foul is fair,"

And also,

"So fair and foul a day I have not seen."

Macbeth returning from victory, in which he featured a hero, is
confounded by the rain and storm. This turns out to be fore - taste of
the ciaos to come. Supernatural powers will be seen to strongly
influence the outcomes of the story and Macbeth's downfalls.
Shakespeare uses history to form the basis of his story and alters it
to increase the dramatic effect. The appearance of the witches
reflects history's fear of supernatural powers - yet Macbeth far from
being horrified says:-

"What are there so weird and wonderful in their alive."

He appears interested and intrigued in what they say.

The audience in Shakespeare's day would have been terrified -
especially when they see how Macbeth responds and how he truly does
become King as the witches predict. As a playwright, he captured his
audience through exploitation of the power of evil. The witches
astound both audience and character with their address "Hail Thane of

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Glams" they know Macbeth. This is followed by "hail to thee, Thane of
Cawdor" which is amazing because the Thane of Cawdor lives before,
incredibility sets in their further state, "Hail King that shall be."

We know it was no accidental meeting because the witches have planned
to meet "upon the heath . . . . there to meet Macbeth" Good and bad
are inverted at their behest. "Hover through the fog and filthy air."
The witches have set out their stall right at the outlet. The question
is - How will Macbeth react?

A key response is Macbeth's reply "Stay you imperfect speakers, tell
me more." He recognised them for what they were and he wanted to
converse with them. When the witches "vanish", he is preoccupied - so
much that he tells the experience immediately to his wife. It is at
that point that messengers bring news of his promotion to "Thane of
Cawdor" - and he gives himself up to supernatural influences when he
begins to think about becoming King.

The play opens with the use of the supernatural when three witches
encounter Macbeth on his way home from a battle and proceed to predict
his fate. This gives the audience a glimpse of the path the play will
follow. The witches plan to meet again, "When the battle is lost and
won…" This theme becomes recurring throughout the play. It can be
noted that the witches meet after every battle is lost and won, and
every battle, whether man against man, man against nature or man
against himself it will always be lost by one side and won by another.
Eventually Macbeth will lose the battle for his soul. After the
witches reveal the fate of Macbeth becoming king, he begins to develop
an immoral plan to carry out the prophecy. The only way for Macbeth to
have the throne will be to wait or to kill King Duncan. Macbeth
already knew of his future as king due to the witches' forecast of his
future, so how he went about getting there did not concern Macbeth. If
the three sisters had not confronted Macbeth with the news of his
possible future would he have thought of a deviant plan to murder King
Duncan, and better yet, would he have had a future as a king at all?
If you refer back to the text you will find just as the witches appear
before Macbeth the first time, the plot to murder King Duncan begins
and immediately after the second visitation, the events leading to
Macbeth's death take place. Had the three witches not encountered
Macbeth that day, would Duncan still be alive? The three sisters held
the power of motivating Macbeth to kill Duncanby planting the idea in
his head that he could be king.

The "ghostly" dagger, which led Macbeth to Duncan's chamber, also
represents the supernatural forces that cause the fall of Macbeth.
"His benumbed isolation before, during and right after Duncan's murder
is one of the most vivid memories, and we can see him in the same
abstraction again among the mourners after Duncanis found." Macbeth's
memories of the murder of King Duncan were too cloudy for him to
remember because the disillusionment and distraction of the knife
influenced him to go through with killing Duncan. Macbeth followed the
bloody dagger to Duncan's room and even thought twice about murdering
the king. Macbeth exhibits sensitivity towards what he does not
understand or comprehend. These strange occurrences bring forth
Macbeth's uncertainty of the unnatural, causing his character to have
two paths to travel down: the right one or the wrong one. The floating
dagger along with emotions and coaxed Macbeth to the murder. Had he
not encountered the dagger, he wouldn't have ever travelled up the
stairs to Duncan's chamber.

Banquo's ghost is yet another paranormal experience Macbeth
encounters, and also the one that sent Macbeth over the edge. Banquo's
ghost returned to torture Macbeth indefinitely. Eventually, the ghost
drives Macbeth to his own, unintended, self-destruction. In act 3,
Macbeth says to Lady Macbeth, "Can such things be and overcome us like
a summers cloud, without our special wonder? You make me strange even
to the disposition that owe. After all Macbeth has been through at
this point, the witches and apparitions, he still can't grasp his
connection to the supernatural. This proves that Macbeth fell under
the influence of the supernatural without knowing. Accredited author
J. L. F. Flathe quotes,

"But we are constrained to ask, what devil gives the devil such power
over this poor devil Macbeth that he is so immediately led astray,
while we see, in the case of Banquo, that any man who chooses can
easily withstand the devil?" Any given person's human nature tempts
them to take an easier path if shown the way. Some people exhibit more
hardworking and honest traits than others. Macbeth was deceitful and
dishonest, therefore following the path of the devil. Macbeth suffered
the consequences of his actions by death. Though Banquo also suffered
consequences of honesty, his heirs benefited in the long run by
inheriting the crown.

Macbeth's decisions were influenced by supernatural encounters,
causing him to tragically meet a doomed fate. These paranormal
experiences and influences caused Macbeth to choose certain paths,
only to lead him to self-destruction. Had the witches, ghosts, and
visions not occurred throughout the play, what other courses would
have been walked to lead him to his ill-fated destiny? Without the
guidance of these forces, Macbeth's fate would have been altered and
the plot would be non-existent.
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