Morals In Macbeth

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Throwing Moralities to the Wind
“Set within reach of triumph, who is not tempted to reach?”(Low). Macbeth is a character from The Tragedy of Macbeth who defines what it means to be influenced by the temptation of power. Upon the arrival of the three witches, Macbeth learns that he will soon become king of Scotland. Heavily influenced by the prophecy, Macbeth takes actions in order to fulfill his prophecy of gaining power over the entire nation. His ambition for power soon conflicts with his morals as Macbeth does an incorrigible act of killing the current king of Scotland and taking over the throne. Macbeth soon lost a sense of his morals and began to murder more people in order to secure his spot on the throne. In his play The Tragedy of Macbeth,
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The first line of the entire play is spoken by the first witch who proposes, “When shall we meet again? In thunder lightning or in rain?” (Shakespeare 1.1.1). All three witches agree about meeting once again when Macbeth returns. They all leave the stage reciting, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (Shakespeare 1.1.9). According to Zhang Longxi, “In the context of Shakespeare’s great tragedy, the repetition of ‘fair’ and ‘foul’ cannot be a mere coincidence.” This line is a paradox because it describes something seeming good as bad and something seeming bad as good. Later upon meeting Macbeth, the third witch cried out, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter” (Shakespeare 1.3.49). The cry of the witch leads to the prophecy of how Macbeth will soon gain power and become king. At this time Macbeth is a brave heroic soldier; however, due to the prophecy, Macbeth soon becomes a despot hungry for power. Through the use of Macbeth’s character, Shakespeare shows how fate can change under the temptation of power. Raiva Verma agrees when she writes that “Fair only seems to be foul, and foul, fair. Time will, in due course bring about a proper separation between the terms which Macbeth’s actions would confound.” By unveiling Macbeth’s actions to become king, Shakespeare shames his society about how the desire for…show more content…
Upon meeting the three witches again, Macbeth is told that “Macbeth shall never vanquished be until/ Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill/ Shall come against him”(Shakespeare 4.1.92-94). Through the use of this prophecy, Macbeth is given a false sense of security to feed his confidence. While Macbeth exults the prophecy for giving him a feeling of solace, the prophecy is actually ironic as it predicts his ultimate demise. In the final act, a messenger approaches Macbeth and frantically cries that “As I did stand my watch upon the hill/ I look 'd toward Birnan and anon methought/ The wood began to move” (Shakespeare 5.5.33-34). This phenomenon occurs because soldiers were carrying wood from Great Birnam Wood to disguise themselves while they marched to the castle. Through this irony of the second prophecy given by the witches, Macbeth who is credulous, is ironically defeated this way because he blindly follows the interpretation of the witches which consumes him in the end. Referring to Barbara L. Parker, she claims that “Macbeth’s illusion lies in his behalf that he can transcend destiny” and “he arrogates to himself the properties of god.” By highlighting Macbeth’s arrogance, Shakespeare elucidates how overconfidence causes people to act recklessly and give no regards to

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