In Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth, Macbeth was a victim of both free will and fate. One was not more predominant than the other. It seemed as if Macbeth was just following his destiny at first, but he had a chance to change his fate. It was his lust for power that leads him to doom through his own free will. In Act I, the three witches visit Macbeth and Banquo on the heath.
In the tragedy Macbeth, William Shakespeare uses a handful of themes to develop the plot. One theme is "fair is foul and foul is fair". The witches originally say this and it echoes throughout the whole story. It means that nothing is what it really what it seems, bad things can turn out to be good, and good things can turn out to be bad. This line points towards the play's inconsistency between appearance and reality.
… All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, thane of Cawdor! … All hail Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter.” (1.3.50-53) In regards to the prophecies, Macbeth writes to Lady Macbeth a letter indicating the prophecies and their already partial fulfilment towards the first two prophecies. He also expresses his strive of determination and hunger for Duncan’s crown to Lady Macbeth in his letter. The witches manipulate Macbeth, telling him half of the truth in the prophecies, especially in the third prophecy involving Macbeth becoming king.
The charms wound up.” (Act1.2 )The witches pour prophecies into Macbeth giving him an insight of what is to come in his future, as king of Scotland. Lady Macbeth receives the news from Macbeth causing her mind to flood with corruption on how to get rid of King Duncan; however, Macbeth is not cruel enough to kill the king of Scotland. Or is he? Is Lady Macbeth up to do this
At first Macbeth seemed skeptical of what the witches were saying until the title of thane of cawdor is actually bestowed upon him. Another prophecy the witches gave was “ all hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!”. The witches telling him he will be king inspire him to plot the death of duncan the current king so can become the king of scotland. Macbeth acting on this prophecy eventually sets into motion the entire events of the play. The last of the first group of prophecies is when the witches say to banquo “ Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none”.
Shakespeare articulates the distressed tone through the use of contrasting diction in comparing Macbeth and Banquo. In this soliloquy, Macbeth realizes that the only prophecy left unfulfilled was Banquo’s: the proclamation that his sons would become kings. Shakespeare utilizes gallant, regal diction in Macbeth’s description of Banquo. Fearing Banquo’s “royalty of nature” and the fact that the witches “hailed him father to a line of kings”, Macbeth’s paranoia increases (3.1.52, 3.1.63). In contrast, Shakespeare’s diction in relation to Macbeth’s kingship has a worthless connotation.
Macbeth became a favorite to Duncan and wanted to please him. After his encounter with the witches, though his thoughts began to change. After hearing “All hail, Macbeth,/ thou shalt be king hereafter!,” (1.3.50) from the witches, he is ready for his prophecies to become true. When Duncan announces that Macbeth is now the Thane of Cawdor, Banquo attempts to warn him to not over analyze the witches’ prophecy. He tries to tell them that they are trying to trick him by only telling him little parts of the truth.
The three witches introduced to the reader were the initial characters to plant the seed of greed in Macbeth’s mind. The prophecy they state reads that Macbeth will or has attained multiple levels of power, “All hail, Macbeth...Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor...that shalt be king hereafter.” (Act 1, Sc. 3, lines 51-53) While it was rather brief, this introduction lead to Macbeth essentially taking course and making these occurrences actually happen. Not only is the content of what the say alter Macbeth, it may also be their way of proclaiming the prophecy. The
When they first meet he exclaims “Speak if you can: what are you?” (I.iii.49). This solidifies the witches as supernatural and not a common occurrence in the realm of the play. This again is a trait of a Tragic Hero making Macbeth a prime example. The witches do not only tell Macbeth of the ideas, they also influence him in his decision. Macbeth returns to the witches to see if his fortune has changed but when he arrives the witches create apparitions, one of which tells Macbeth “None of woman born shall harm Macbeth” (IV.i.86-87).
“From whom this tyrant holds the due of birth.” (Macbeth, III, vi, 25). Macbeths most ambitious moment was best summarized in the last act of the play when the Three Witches give him their final prophecy. They say that, “…none of woman born shall harm Macbeth,” and “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood…shall come against him.” (Macbeth, IV, i, 80-81,93-93). After hearing this from the witches, Macbeths believes that he cannot be killed. However, his arrogance serves him a deadly blind spot.