William Shakespeare’s, Macbeth, is a play full of betrayal and deception. It is a story about Macbeth’s desires to achieve greatness and become king. Despite his involvement in actually committing the treasonous acts, he cannot be held accountable. However, if it were not for the deeds of a woman at one time or another, Macbeth never would have involved himself with acts of treachery.
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From the opening scene, we begin to see the role that women play in Macbeth. The three ugly witches are gathered in a thunderstorm cackling greedily over their evil plans. Their chant of “fair is foul, and foul is fair” illustrates how women perform acts of ugliness and evil to achieve disorder. In addition, we see that women can cloud reality, thus causing deceptiveness in the “fog and filthy air.”
In Act I, scene 3, we again see the feminine presence through the witches. This time, however, they are casting spells on a poor sailor because his wife cursed one of the witches and refused to give her some chestnuts. Chances are, that if women are fighting, a man will suffer for it. Just then, Macbeth and Banqou see the witches and engage them in conversation. The witches greet Macbeth with, “Thane of Glamis” (his present title), “Thane of Cawdor” (his soon-to-be announced title), and the prophesy that he will be “King hereafter.” They also greet Banquo with, “lesser than Macbeth, and greater,” as “not so happy, yet much happier,” and tell him “thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” How would the witches know of their future? Perhaps they were trying to plant an idea in Macbeth’s head that would later lead to certain calamity.
After Macbeth discovers the witches’ first prediction came true, he begins to aspire to realize the next prediction of becoming king. Already, because of the women, Macbeth begins to entertain the idea of such power. Macbeth later informs his wife of his encounter with the witches and their predictions. Because Lady Macbeth likes the idea of becoming queen, she encourages Macbeth to kill Duncan. Just like a woman would do, she begins to put her own interests before the well-being of her husband. She tells him that he must kill Duncan, which he eventually does with great hesitance. Even after he commits the deed, she maintains that what he did was rational, and thus begins Macbeth’s path of annihilation.
It is important to note that Macbeth is primarily a brave, courageous, and loyal man. It was not until the witches planted the idea of “power” in his head, and Lady Macbeth encouraged him to murder Duncan, did he stray from the righteous path. In Macbeth, responsibility rests solely on the shoulders of the women in the play. Just as Eve gave the forbidden fruit to Adam, women supply men with evil temptation that will inevitably lead to misfortune.
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