Do the Witches, in Fact Have Any Power in the Play ‘Macbeth’ Throughout?

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 24
  • Published: June 23, 2013
Read full document
Text Preview
The forces of evil are always ready to ensnare man, but they have their limitations. They do not, indeed cannot, force man into evil; they can merely tempt man to choose to follow evil ways. Experiencing temptation is not sinful, but deliberately choosing to give in to temptation is an evil. [“Have I not reason, beldams as you are,

Saucy and over-bold? How did you dare
To trade and traffic with Macbeth
In riddles and affairs of death?”] (HECATE SCENE, Act 3, SCENE 5)

Macbeth deliberately chooses-not once but several times in the play-the evil path. In the portrayal of Macbeth we witness the destructive power of evil in the inner life of a man. It is not a simple, smooth downward progress; but involves turmoil and conflict between conscience and other desires, between good and evil impulses that work within man. At every stage of Macbeth’s degeneration we witness the choice being made deliberately; at the same time there is a sense of inevitability about Macbeth’s choices. The Witches merely prophecy certain things for Macbeth. They do not influence him in any concert manner. It is a fact that his ambition impels him towards “the swelling act of the imperial theme” but his conscience fills him with horror at the idea that has come to him about how to gain the throne. The deterioration of Macbeth’s character illustrates the theme of conscience and its decline. From a brave soldier and noble person, Macbeth reaches a state when he is a soulless man, a beast chained to a stake and finally slaughtered like a beast. A fever in his blood keeps him away from conscience and urges him on to ceaseless action and to desperation. Love of power and the will to live are so powerful in him that he goes to the extent of challenging Fate... TheWitches’predictions and their partial fulfillment at once engross him in the thought of kingship. His ambition makes him unscrupulous and the thought of murdering Duncan occurs instantly in his mind. “And you all know, security

Is mortals’ chiefest enemy.” (HECATE SCENE, Act 3, SCENE 5) Act-I Scene-I, a short scene introduces the readers to the theme of evil. As a scene of exposition, it creates the atmosphere and hints at a battle being fought and the keenness of the Witches to meet the protagonist. Even before human beings have been introduced, the witches and tumultuous, hostile weather suggest the part to be played by the supernatural. The two ambiguous lines, “When the battle’s lost and won” and “Fair is foul and foul is fair” are only a beginning to many more of such paradoxical and enigmatic statements. It may be noted that in the whole play there are nineteen scenes of darkness as against only seven of dusk and daylight. The atmosphere of darkness and terror continues through the play until in the last scene Macduff enters with Macbeth’s head indicating the ultimate end of the nightmare.

Macbeth’s ambition, aided by his wife’s instigation, is too strong for his conscience, which is ignored. As soon as he commits the murder he can again hear the disturbing protest of his deeper self. Conscience now gnaws at him and makes itself articulate in the form of unforgettable sighs and haunting sounds. Macbeth is now overwhelmed with a sense of futility of the crime and an equally strong sense of remorse. “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.”

Macbeth is guilty of committing the most heinous crimes. Lady Macbeth, as if she were a fourth witch, encourages and influences him with valour of her tongue and the crime, which might otherwise have remained undone, is committed. Lady Macbeth, too, soon realizes the futility of the crown that they have obtained through crime and soliloquies. She suffers like her husband, the tortures of Hell, a glimpse of which we get in the sleep-walking scene. ‘Macbeth: “How now,you secret,black, and midnight hags!

What is’t you do?
All the Witches: A deed without a name.”’
Evil always works through deception. The evil...
tracking img