Fear, this motivates us to do many things no matter if they are right or wrong. In the play Macbeth it was fear that was the main motivating factor that influenced the outcome of the play.

This can be proved by the subsequent murders that followed after Duncan’s, why were these committed? Because Macbeth was scared of being caught and having to pay for the wrongs he had done. Also look at Lady Macbeth, the constant washing of her hands, sleepwalking, and other behavior like this. All done out of fear, and like her husband fear of being caught.

The final piece of proof I offer is Macbeth’s actions, they were all due to fear, not only of being caught but of the witches’ prophecies, he was scared of them coming true and tried to stop them from happening. This whole play was inspired by fear and what it and do to a person. To begin, we’ll address Macbeth’s subsequent murders, following Duncan’s. For Macbeth, he’s just killed the King of Scotland and blamed it on his son. It worked and he became King, however, he remembered the witches’ prophecies.

They claimed that Macbeth would be King, but it would be Banquo’s children that would follow after him. This made Macbeth very angry, he risked everything to become King and after him, none of his family will follow.

Only for them; and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man, To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings! [Act III, S I, L 72-75] Here Macbeth realizes that if something is not done to Banquo, then his sons will become King. Macbeth can’t have this, he’s already worried that his soul will go to hell for what he’s already done.

His fear becomes evident in this scene also, “But to be safely thus: our fears in Banquo Stick deep;” [Act III, S I, L 53-54] Macbeth then has Banquo murdered, however, his son Fleance escapes in the attack.

Next Macduff refuses to accept Macbeth as king and flees to England to join Malcolm. And also the witches tell him to beware of Macduff, which angers Macbeth and drives him to kill Macduff’s family.

More fear of losing the impending battle with England, makes Macbeth start doing anything that will give him an edge in the final battle. Macbeth’s fear is starting to consume him, he can no longer sleep and is ravaged by guilt over what he’s done. As well Lady Macbeth is being consumed by fear and guilt, she is slowly losing her sanity.

This is a result of her not being able to handle what she has done to Duncan. As shown in this quote Out, damned spot! out, I say! One; Two: why, then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie! a soldier and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? [Act V, S I, L 32-35] Here Lady Macbeth is trying to wash out what she sees as being blood on her hands.

As well she mentions hell an obvious fear of going there for what she has done. At the start, Lady Macbeth was the one pushing on Macbeth to kill Duncan but as the play goes on she becomes weaker as Macbeth becomes stronger, Macbeth isn’t troubled by what he has done to the extent Lady Macbeth is.

Her role in the play slowly becomes smaller and smaller as she ends up being driven mad by the guilt and soon can no longer take it, and ends up taking her own life hoping that her torment will end now that she is dead. “The Queen, my Lord is dead” [Act V, S 5, L 18], Lady Macbeth takes her life right before the battle against the English is about to begin.

This taking of her own life demonstrates her fear and in the end what that fear can do to a person. Now we come to the witches’ prophecies, these are a main source of fear for Macbeth, after all, where has he learned everything from. With each new vision, Macbeth falls deeper and deeper into an evil spiral. The witches’ first prediction is of Macbeth being king, which made Macbeth kill to become king. As well as Banquo’s children becoming kings, this scared Macbeth as I previously mentioned.

Also when he went back to see the witches he gained some more knowledge, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff; Beware the thane of Fife.” [Act IV, S I, L 77], well now that Macbeth has heard this, he believes that he must kill Macduff, however, he learns that Macduff has fled to England, so Macbeth decides to kill his family.

Next in the cave, Macbeth is told he can’t be killed by any man born of woman, well this gives him confidence that no matter what the English will not defeat him. And he is also told that he will not be defeated until the trees of Birnam Wood move towards his castle. He has put all his faith in these prophecies, what the witches say must be true because of the first prediction.

In conclusion, you can see what fear can do to a person, it made Macbeth mad for power which he ended up getting. But after the first of his crimes, the rest became easier for him, pretty soon he’d just order it and not think twice.

That was not the case when he first murdered Duncan. All through the play his fear of being caught, and the witches’ prophecies coming true make him do all these evil deeds. Fear had become the main motivating factor in the play. Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the play from all this.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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