Macbeth Essay, Research Paper
The Weird Sisters had an influence on Macbeth. The first apparitions made Macbeth greedy. After Macbeth
became king, they influenced him into thinking that he was invincible. This let him make for himself a safe
security which would come back to haunt him, and at the end destroy him. The Weird Sisters shaped the play into
what it is through influencing Macbeth.
The Weird Sisters start the play off. The first thing they do is tell Macbeth that he is going to become
king. This plays a major role in Macbeth s greed. This is also a foreshadowing of things to come. Denton Snider
states: Manifestly the fate of the two heroes is mysteriously wrapped up in these oracles, which in part foreshadow,
and in part cause what they foreshadow (Snider 215). What Denton Snider means is that the witches foreshadow
the play, but also through that the build up the greed to have Macbeth cause what they foreshadow. This supports
my thesis. Since Macbeth knows he is going to become king, he thinks why should he not become king now,
instead of having to wait. Hazlitt stated that the reason for all of Macbeth s crimes were the witches, who surprised
him, and he was impatient to verify their predictions, causing Duncan s murder (Hazlitt 11). Hazlitt noted that in
this statement: “…and from the superstitious awe and breathless suspense into which the communications of the
Weird Sisters throw him, is hurried on with daring impatience to verify their predictions (Hazlitt 11). This quote
shows that the witches have control over Macbeth, since he is thrown into their world and pushed on to verify their
Before heading to the very known area, let us explore a different point of view. Did the Weird Sisters
really know that he was going to become king, or were they just playing with his mind? Now that is a very strong
conversation to take up. Most people, if they just took it from the tops of their heads would say yes, they knew
because they were demons or witches. But then, some professors that study Shakespeare say that maybe the witches
did not know, but made accurate predictions. Walter Curry believes that witches cannot read someone s mind, but
by looking at Macbeth s actions they make the apparitions that they believe will work (Curry 63). This quote
explains his ideas: Realizing that he desires the kingdom, they prophesy that he shall be king, thus arousing his
passions and influencing his imagination to the extent that nothing is but what is not (Curry 63). This quote
exactly explains what I am trying to state: that the witches cannot read minds, but they make accurate predictions
of Macbeth s fantasies. Their predictions were correct since they influenced Macbeth.
Macbeth in the beginning was a blameless character. He would not have even thought about becoming
king if the Weird Sisters did not come to him. It was hard for him to believe that he was Thane of Cawdor, and
they said he is going to become king. As Steevens put it: Macbeth deceived by the illusions of witchcraft was a
religious, temperate, and blameless character (Steevens 464). This quote means that Macbeth was a blameless
character, but he was deceived by the Weird Sisters whom made him a murderer.
It is believed that if it were not for the witches Macbeth would not even think of becoming Thane of
Cawdor, and even more king. This shows how the thesis is accurate, showing how the witches shaped the play by
influencing Macbeth. Bradley believes that the witch s apparitions were apparitions alone, and that they were not
the only influence on Macbeth, but instead they were more of a spark. (Bradley 368) This shows that the witches
were not the only influence, but they started everything. How this happened was that after Macbeth found out, he
told his wife, Lady Macbeth, through a letter about the apparitions. When Lady Macbeth found out, she right
away started supporting her husband. Brooks supports this by stating Tempted by the Weird Sisters and urged on
by his wife, Macbeth is caught between the rational and irrational (Brooks 31). This quote states that Macbeth was
tempted by the witches and urged on by his wife, and during all this he felt surrounded not knowing what to do.
Schlegel also supports the theory that Macbeth needed support to kill Duncan: Natural motives alone seem
inadequate (Schlegel 408). The third influence was from Macbeth himself. Although his support is not that strong,
the truth is he could not really be made to kill Duncan, unless he had something to accomplish too. What he had to
accomplish was a much higher social status. That is why Schlegel states that He has, therefore, given a thriefold
division to the guilt of that crime (Schlegel 403). Schlegel is referring to Shakespeare, and he is stating that
Shakespeare when writing the play, had in mind three guilty characters: Lady Macbeth, Macbeth, and the witches.
During the time Macbeth was on the throne, his mind kept coming back to the witches. This shows how
much they influenced him so much that he could not stop thinking about them. During this time in the play he
became a complete monster, trying to kill anyone who might be a threat.
Toward the end of the play, he became scared that someone will try to take everything away. Therefore, he
went to the witches and received his last apparitions. The first apparition was: Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth!
Beware Macduff! (Shakespeare IV.i.81). This apparition scared Macbeth just slightly. Just to make sure the
apparition will not come true, he decides that he will kill him later.
The second and third apparitions did not scare him at all. The second apparition: Be bloody, bold, and
resolute. Laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth (Shakespeare IV.i.90-93).
The third apparition: Be lion-mettled, proud, and take no care who chafes, who frets, or where conspirers are.
Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam Wood of High Dunsinane Hill shall come against him
(Shakespeare IV.i.103-107). These two apparitions do not scare Macbeth. For who is not woman-born, or how can
a forest of trees walk? He even states this out loud: That will never be. Who can impress the forest, bid the tree
unfix his earthbound root? Sweet bodements, good! Rebellious dead, rise never till the wood of Birnam rise, and
our high-placed Macbeth shall live till the lease of nature, pay his breath to time and mortal custom (Shakespeare
IV.i.108-114). You can tell from this quote, that Macbeth is not scared. He is almost mocking the witches. How
can they tell him, that forests will walk and that people are not born through their mothers?
Watson believes that the prophesies sent him into self-destruction, by making him think he was
self-preserving himself (Watson 20). He also believes that the prophecy that confronted him was an Oedipal
prophecy- a warning about filial rebellion and the castration that avenges it (Watson 20). His statement explains
everything: prophecy that confronts Macbeth is an Oedipal prophecy Such a riddle tempts man toward the fatal
violation it describes, sends him in pursuit of self-destruction through a desperate and deluded attempt at
self-preservation (Watson 20). Another author, Wills Gary, believes that Hecate is leading Macbeth into a false
sense of security, which will later be his worst enemy (Wills 47).
T.W. thinks that the prophecy that Macbeth will not be killed by anyone of woman born and until the
forest walk make Macbeth feel invincible which is a good thing in his opinion since it makes a shocking ending
(T.W. 290). His statement states this exactly: The prophecy of the witches, That none of woman born should be
able to hurt Macbeth, and that he need fear nothing till Birnam wood should come to Dunsinane, have when
fulfilled in a sense different from what the words seemed to import, an excellent effect in reading the fall of the
bloody tyrant dreadful and shocking (T.W. 290).
As you have seen, the witches influenced Macbeth, and in doing so shaped the play. If they had not told
him that he would become king, he would not even imagine that. But since they did tell him, he received new
ambition and greed to finally kill the king and become king himself. After he was firmly on the throne, he began to
get scared that someone was after him and the throne. He went to the witches and received influence again. He
received three apparitions, but of two types: one that stated that he was going to be killed by Macduff, and two that
stated that he should not be scared, because he is going to be killed by someone that is not woman born, and before
that happens a forest of trees has to walk.
In essence, Macbeth was influenced by the witches. It is not sure if they knew how to read someone s
mind, but they at least made educated guesses. They caused him to murder Duncan and become king. When
Macbeth was on the throne, he became scared that someone is trying to put him down. That is when Macbeth went
to the witches again. There he received the other apparitions, which made him feel invincible. This false security
finally destroyed him. This shows how the witches influence on Macbeth shaped the play