Foretelling The Future (Macbeth) Essay, Research Paper
Foretelling the Future
Macbeth by William Shakespeare, is a play about a man who sacrifices everything he has to become king. There were many factors that led to Macbeth degenerating from a noble warrior, to a fallen king, however I believe that, it is because Macbeth learns beforehand in Act 1, that he decides his place is upon the throne. Most of the play is foretold in Act 1, through Lady Macbeth, and of course through the witches, who reveal more to Macbeth then he ever possibly knew.
In Act 1, Scene 1, the witches are talking amongst themselves about the next time they will meet. When shall we meet again?/ In thunder, lightning, or in rain?/ When the hurly-burly s done,/ When the battle s lost and won ./there to meet Macbeth. (1, i, 1-4)Here we find out that there is a war going on, and that Macbeth shall soon stand victorious over his enemy the rebel Thane of Cawdor. It is then that the witches shall again arise, and this time confront Macbeth. However, the witches decide to stay out of direct contact with anybody until the war has come to a conclusion.
In scene 2, we learn who the war was with, and much like the witches had proclaimed Macbeth was victorious in his illustrious battle. Duncan then proclaims that Macbeth will receive the traitor s title (Thane of Cawdor) for slaying the traitorous enemy of the king. And with his former title greet Macbeth. / For what he hath lost, Noble Macbeth has won. (1, ii, 76-78) It is ironic that Duncan states how Noble Macbeth has won the title of Thane of Cawdor, when in the next Act, Macbeth sneaks into Duncan s room while he is sleeping, and murders him dis-honorably by killing him in his sleep instead of face to face. The witch s prophecy seems to be coming together piece by piece as Macbeth is the new Thane of Cawdor.
In the next scene, the witches confront Macbeth and Banquo face to face, and Macbeth learns that he is destined to murder Duncan and take his place at the throne. The witches exclaim to him all three of his titles, even when Macbeth does not want to hear them. All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee Thane of Cawdor. / All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter! (1, iii, 52-54)
Upon hearing this, Macbeth demands to know more, as he does not even know he is the Thane of Cawdor yet. As he speaks to the witches they disappear, and Ross enters to reveal to Macbeth his new title as the Thane of Cawdor. It is now Macbeth is beginning to realize that the witches prophecy is true, and he begins to think of a way he could possibly murder the king, the same man who has just given Macbeth his new title.
In scene four, Duncan the current king, announces to everyone in Scotland that his son shall be his successor as king after he passes on. Macbeth now realizes that the only way he can become king is to murder Duncan himself and blame it on someone else, as the witches prophecy begins to come together just like they proclaimed. The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step / On which I must fall down or else o erleap, for in my way it lies. (1, IV,55-56 ) Macbeth knows that to become king he must leap the step and kill the king, or else he cannot have what he desires most, to become the king. The only problem is, that Macbeth is not a traitorous man by nature, he has always been good to his fellow men, and so that is where Lady Macbeth steps in to help Macbeth pull off the clean murder.
In scene 5, Lady Macbeth finds out about Macbeth s confrontation with the witches, and decides that Macbeth is not strong enough mentally, to murder the king, so she decides to come up with a plan. Here Lady Macbeth seems to be tempting fate by intervening on the witch s prophecy. Only look up clear. / To alter favor ever is to fear. / Leave all the rest to me. (1, V, 84-86) Although the prophecy did not state how Macbeth was supposed to become king, it did not say anything about someone else helping him along the way to commit this foul deed. And apparently Lady Macbeth feels that Macbeth deserves to be king also, for she is beginning to think up a plan now, as she will meet with Duncan and his servants later in the evening.
In scene 6, Duncan arrives at Inverness and meets up with Lady Macbeth alone without Macbeth. Lady Macbeth seems to feel much less remorse about the upcoming murder of Duncan, as she can still act girlish and pretend to be the current King s friend. Even when Duncan talks so highly of Macbeth, she still does not try to think of another way besides murder for Macbeth to become king. Conduct me to mine host. We love him highly / And shall continue our graces toward him. / By your leave, hostess. (1, VI, 37-39) If Macbeth were there to hear Duncan make such a statement toward him, maybe Macbeth would have realized how strong was the murder he was about to commit. But Lady Macbeth tells him nothing of the meeting, and they begin to prepare for Duncan s murder.
In scene 7, Macbeth shows his remorse for the act he is about to commit and Lady Macbeth mocks him for it. He does not wish to murder his friend and trusted king, however it seems Lady Macbeth has more power over him in this scene than in any other scene in the entire play. If we should fail- / We fail? / But screw your courage to the sticking place / and we ll not fail. (1, VII, 68-71)This seems to be the last chapter where both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have the courage to murder Duncan, and if it were not for Lady Macbeth the murder would not have taken place. It s as if the witches control Lady Macbeth, to make sure that Macbeth can finish their prophecy and become king.
Act 1 does a great job of foretelling what happens in the rest of the play, by using the witches as a stepping-stone for Macbeth to realize his place here. It seems that the witches prophecy sparks something in Macbeth, as he continues to murder as the play goes on. Whether or not Macbeth would have killed Duncan without the help of Lady Macbeth is questionable, but it is proven here that Lady Macbeth had the power that Macbeth needed to commit the murder.