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Literature: the Play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

The art of drama was very popular in Elizabethan England. Among the great number of theaters, the Shakespearean Globe was one of the most famous. It was just a simple wooden building where the audience was sitting close to the stage, that gave Shakespeare the opportunity to use “asides and soliloquies in his plays” (Clugston, 2010, p.314) as it was easy for the audience to hear and understand it.

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Shakespeare’s works were the reflection of his epoch with the unique nature, peculiar for his age. In his plays the fear of the medieval people for some supernatural forces is reflected “by custom, historical pattern, social expectations, or largely within a character’s perceptions” (Clugston, 2010, p.315).

Shakespeare perfectly reveals the aspects of human nature, “imbuing his plays with a timeless universality” (Schwartz, n.d., para. 4). In his plays “the tragic hero is always a noble man who enjoys some status and prosperity in society but possesses some moral weakness or flaw which leads to his downfall” (Elliott & Gandhi, n.d., para. 2).

Macbeth is not an exception. Being a nobleman since his birth, he also has a lot of positive qualities – courage and strength, but he was not able to resist the temptation of the absolute power and senses that overcome him. His crime, “born of the senses” (Curran, 2012, para. 2), leads to the fall of the great hero. The problem of choice is represented in this work. The question is, whether this is the problem of the conscious choice.

Macbeth seems to be the main character of the play, and, actually, he is. However, he is not the ruler of his life anymore. The words that changed the course of his life and led to his downfall came from the third which “all hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” (Shakespeare, 1600, Act I, scene III, para. 17). They predetermined the development of the action and Macbeths fate. His was not able to influence his life anymore – after that talk, he became the blind victim of fate.

Three witches, being on the background of the story and just saying a couple of words throughout the whole action, turn to be the masters of the destinies of the great number of people. The trouble is that they do nothing except some talks to do that. People themselves believe in delusions, beginning to act in the predicted way.

Banquo, however, tries to warn Macbeth: “And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence” (Shakespeare, 1600, Act I, scene III, para. 45), but it is too late. Macbeth, being blinded that “two truths are told” (Shakespeare, 1600, Act I, scene III, para. 46), becomes the marionette in witches arms. Now they control all events in the play. Shakespeare purposely gives them so few words and so much influence.

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The main idea is to show how powerful is the blind belief and how it can influence the whole country. The author also introduces the idea of being very careful in questions connected with the future. The power of the witches to determine the following events lies in the human desire to know their destiny and to do everything to follow it. Analyzing the play it can be stated that Macbeths actions serve as the best example of it.

Being the brave warrior and nobleman, he did not have any thoughts about the murder of his master. However, he was predicted to become a king. He herds just a couple of words, which, though, were said at the appropriate time. The seeds fell on the fat land. Being one of the most powerful men of that time, he could not but influence people around him, making them pipe to the three witches tune.

The rest of the characters of the play became the victims of three mean women, which influence their lives through the Macbeths actions. Banquo, King Duncan, his children, and Macduff felt the consequences of the blind belief in the power of fate and the ability of someone to predict it.

The prediction of the apparition, summoned by three witches, “The power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth” (Shakespeare, 1600, Act VI, scene I, para. 26) leads to the final downfall of Macbeth. Being sure in his invulnerability, he faces Macduff with words “I bear a charmed life, which must not yield, to one of woman born” ( Shakespeare, 1600, Act V, scene VIII, para. 5) and dies. The mean will of three witches is realized.

In Shakespeare’s times, witches were known to be the embodiment of the evil, bringing chaos, destruction, and seduction to our world. Macbeth is the reflection of this thought. Discussing bad things they did before meeting with Macbeth, three witches than decides to make the worst thing they have ever done.

The reader can even observe here some hidden Bible motives. Three witches can be taken as the Devil, seducing Macbeth with the absolute power. However, Devil never does anything for free. The bloody events and the soul of the fallen Macbeth will be the best regard for him.

Having analyzed the play it is possible to understand the main purpose of introducing three witches and all other outside forces into the play. Shakespeare, being the man of his age, wanted to reflect the medieval blind fear for outside forces which were blamed to be the main reasons for any harm done to men.

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He describes these fears in his play, making three witches the main reason for the fall of Macbeth. However, another message could be seen. The author also wanted to show the reader that the power of supernatural forces depends on human belief. Macbeth could resist the mean will of the witches; however, be sure in their absolute power, he just obeyed. The weakness of human nature before charms is shown through the prism of the deep belief in the power of doom.

Reference List

Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey Into Literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education

Curran, K. (2012). Feeling Criminal in Macbeth. Criticism, Vol. 54, n. pag.

Elliott, A., & Gandhi, M. (n.d.). Shakespeare’s Tragedies. Retrieved from: http://www2.springfield.k12.il.us/schools/springfield/eliz/shaktragedies.html

Schwartz, D.B. (n.d.). Shakespeare’s Plays: Tragedy. Retrieved from: http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl339/tragedy.html

Shakespeare, W. (ca.1600). The Tragedy of Macbeth. Retrieved from: http://shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/full.html

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StudyCorgi. (2020, May 2). Literature: the Play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/literature-the-play-macbeth-by-william-shakespeare/

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StudyCorgi. "Literature: the Play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare." May 2, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/literature-the-play-macbeth-by-william-shakespeare/.

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StudyCorgi. 2020. "Literature: the Play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare." May 2, 2020. https://studycorgi.com/literature-the-play-macbeth-by-william-shakespeare/.

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StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Literature: the Play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare'. 2 May.

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