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Shakespeare Literature: Prophecy and Macbeth Morality Essay

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Updated: Apr 29th, 2020

The major theme covered in Macbeth revolves around ambition and its impact when it is allowed to spur uncontrollable levels. Macbeth as a general turns to use evil means in his quest to attain power and reach his goals. The plot is further directed by the prophecies made by the witches. According to them, Macbeth is to become king as well as the Thane of Cawdor.

In addition, it is predicted that the descendants of Banquo will inherit his position coupled with the prophecy that warns Macbeth about Macduff (Bloom 11). The prophecies include a proclamation that the general is free from any harm directed to him by any man. In the play, the only prophecy that does not come to pass is about the children of Banquo becoming kings as the rest are fulfilled. However, there are questions about the method of interpreting the prophecies as they are expected to be handled as riddles.

The prophecies play a major role in the plot and theme in the story. This is due to the fact that Macbeth relies on the prophecies in making decisions. Macbeth is seen to be consultation with the witches even during the killing of Banquo. He justifies his actions saying “If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me,/ Without my stir “( (Shakespeare 362). Moreover, the general ignores morality when Duncan is murdered. Macbeth resorts to using violence in order to avert or coincide with the prophecies put forward by the witches. Macbeth’s desire for power and prestige is therefore accelerated by the prophecies.

The divination made by the witches pushes Macbeth further into immorality as he is made to believe that he deserves the position of king. Therefore, the proclamation by Duncan that his son Malcolm is to succeed him causes Macbeth to sink further into evil. Lady Macbeth is also involved in the practice of violence and impunity when she supports Macbeth by urging him to commit the acts. For example, she emphasizes… I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you, Have done to this. (Shakespeare 371)

The murder of King Duncan affects morality in the story in a negative way as Macbeth works to actualize the prophecies. Additionally, Lady Macbeth helps Macbeth in overcoming grief and guilt to further perpetuate the wrongdoings. Macbeth tries to justify the morality of the act he is about to carry out. “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the do ,Not bear the knife myself (Shakespeare 369).

Macbeth is thus portrayed as a victim of fate as his character and personality are greatly influenced by various factors. These include the prophecies made by the witches that push Macbeth to corrupt and evil activities. The character that has no regard for morality is heightened by the prophecy in that the friends as well as close relatives of Duncan are also killed.

The character thus gains an immoral status courtesy of the prophecies that are viewed as part of fate that drives the life of Macbeth. The presence of the prophesy leads to the implication that Macbeth loses autonomous control over his life. His behavior is directed by forces that seem to be beyond his control. The prophecies thus translate to greed, mistrust and sorrow for Macbeth and other characters in the plot.

It is apparent that prophecy has greatly affected morality in Macbeth. The divinations made about Macbeth becoming king result in multiple killings by Macbeth in the name of making them come to pass. In addition, Macbeth abandons reason and morality so as to make the predictions a fact. Therefore, Macbeth is portrayed as an immoral character developed and molded by factors that are external. These are further reinforced by Lady Macbeth as she is noted to have backed the immoral acts committed by Macbeth.

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"Shakespeare Literature: Prophecy and Macbeth Morality." IvyPanda, 29 Apr. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/shakespeare-literature-prophecy-and-macbeth-morality/.

1. IvyPanda. "Shakespeare Literature: Prophecy and Macbeth Morality." April 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/shakespeare-literature-prophecy-and-macbeth-morality/.


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IvyPanda. 2020. "Shakespeare Literature: Prophecy and Macbeth Morality." April 29, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/shakespeare-literature-prophecy-and-macbeth-morality/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Shakespeare Literature: Prophecy and Macbeth Morality'. 29 April.

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