Macbeth: A Tale of Two Theories
Macbeth(c.1607), written by William Shakespeare, is the tragic tale of Macbeth, a virtuous man, corrupted by power and greed. This tragedy could in fact be called "A Tale of Two Theories". One theory suggests that the tragic hero, Macbeth, is led down an unescapable road of doom by an outside force, namely fate in the form of the three witches. The second suggests that there is no supernatural force working against Macbeth, which therefore makes him responsible for his own actions and inevitable downfall. It must be remembered that Macbethis a literary work of art, and as a piece
of art is open to many
different interpretations, none of them right and none of them wrong. But the text of the play seems to imply that Macbeth is indeed responsible for his own actions which are provoked by an unwillingness to listen to his own conscience, the witches, and his ambition.
First, Macbeth ignores the voice of his own psyche. He knows what he is doing is wrong even before he murders Duncan, but he allows Lady Macbeth and greed to cloud his judgement. In referring to the idea of the murder of Duncan, Macbeth first states,"We will proceed no further in this business"(I.vii.32). Yet, after speaking with Lady Macbeth he recants and proclaims,"I am settled, and bend up/Each corporal agent to this terrible feat"(I.vii.7980). There is nothing supernatural to be found in a man being swayed by the woman he loves, as a matter of fact this action could be perceived as quite the opposite.
Second, the witches have to be dispelled as a source of Macbeth's misfortune before the latter theory can be considered. It is admittedly strange that the weird sisters first address Macbeth with,"All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee Thane of Cawdor!"(I.iii.49), a title which not even Macbeth is aware he has been awarded. Even stranger is the third witch calling to Macbeth,"All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!"(I.iii.50). However as stated by...
Cited: Bradley, A.C. "The Witch Scenes in Macbeth." England
in Literature. Ed. John Pfordesher,Gladys V. Veidemanis, and Helen McDonnell.
Illinois: Scott, Foresman, 1989. 232
233 Shekespeare, William. Macbeth. England
in Literature. Ed. John Pfordesher, Gladys V. Veidemanis, and Helen McDonnell.
Illinois: Scott, Foresman, 1989. 191
262 ¡ —
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