Hey guys, we’re back again with another anything post! This time, I am sharing my MacBeth essay to see what you all think of it. I know that an essay might not be as interesting as some of our previous posts, but you never know, you might actually enjoy reading this essay. Anyway, enough talking and more essay.
English 9 (C)
Gullibility and Peer Pressure: A Look into Making Things Worse
What would you do if someone told you three predictions about your future? What if that person was a stranger and you had never met them before in you life? Would you immediately believe them, or take their predictions with a grain of salt? Well, it depends on the situation, one might say. Sometimes, the predictions might play upon your own hopes and dreams so much that you would be inclined to believe them and do what was necessary to achieve them. MacBeth is an example of this as in the play, MacBeth is faced with the three witches and by Lady MacBeth who are all trying to persuade him to believe and do certain things. In MacBeth, Shakespeare uses MacBeth’s gullibility for the witches and Lady MacBeth to show us that succumbing to peer pressure ends up hurting you later on.
By succumbing to the witches’ prophecies MacBeth has ultimately set himself up for his own downfall. In the beginning of the play, the witches confront MacBeth and mysteriously tell him three prophecies. “Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!” (1.3.51) “Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor” (1.3.52) “MacBeth…shalt be king hereafter” (1.3.53). After receiving confirmation that he was now Thane of Cawdor, he doesn’t even pause to consider the credibility of the last prophecy. He instantly believes it and starts planning the murder of Duncan. “My thought, whose murder is yet but fantastical” (1.3.152). Only at the end of the play does MacBeth realize he was deceived and led askew by the witches. “And be these juggling fiends no more believe that palter with us in a double sense,...keep the word of promise to our ear and break it in our hope.”(5.8.23-26) By believing the witches, he foolishly thought that no one could kill him, but there was a loophole. This loophole allowed MacDuff to kill MacBeth. MacBeth’s gullibility led him to believe the witches without a doubt and that in turn led to his downfall and eventual death.
On the contrary, by distancing himself from the witches, Banquo is rewarded with many generations of kings to come. Both Banquo and MacBeth were present when the witches gave MacBeth his three prophecies. They in turn gave a prophecy to Banquo as well. “Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none” (1.3.70). Unlike MacBeth, Banquo does not immediately believe the witches’ prophecies and is suspicious of them. “The instruments of darkness tells us truths, win us with honest trifles,..betray’s in deepest consequence (1.3.136-138) Because of this hesitation, Banquo does not act upon this prediction and instead seeks help from heaven when he is tempted in his dreams. “Merciful powers, restrain in me the cursed thoughts that nature gives way to in repose (2.1.9-11). He does not allow even the slightest temptation to overcome him, because he knows that deep down, the witches are out to cause harm. This in turn benefits him as his distrust of the witches rewards him with a line of many kings to come.
By being persuaded by Lady MacBeth to kill King Duncan, MacBeth’s life gets filled with misery and regret. Originally, MacBeth had decided not to kill King Duncan because he is such a good man. “He's here in double trust...besides this Duncan…hath been so clear in his great office” (1.7.11-18). However, Lady MacBeth has other plans, and mocks him of his fears. MacBeth is then persuaded by Lady MacBeth and kills Duncan. By believing Lady MacBeth, MacBeth’s life starts going down hill. He starts having nightmares;“In the affliction of these terrible dreams that shake us nightly” (3.2.21-22) and is so discontented and unhappy that he thinks it is easier being dead. “Better be with the dead” (3.2.22). Lady MacBeth told him to brush off the guilt, and that “a little water clears us of this deed”, but this was not the case for MacBeth. (2.2.86) By Believing Lady MacBeth and killing Duncan, MacBeth payed the price in nightmares and unresolved guilt.
Each time MacBeth is gullible and succumbs to the demands of others, bad things happen for him. With the witches, he believed every word they said and fell to their demands, killing lots of innocent people along the way. He eventually was betrayed by them at the end, and was killed because of it. With Lady MacBeth he allowed himself to be persuaded into killing Duncan even when he previously said no. From then on MacBeth is plagued with sleepless nights and a burdensome guilt. Banquo however chose to distance himself from the witches, and was suspicious of them. This act of restraint and caution was rewarded by a line of many kings. So, if one were to tell you three predictions about your future, it would be wise to take the predictions with a healthy amount of scepticism. If you don’t, and end up listening to their every word, you soon become fixated on your future and like MacBeth, that future will go down hill.
Shakespeare, William. MacBeth. Folger ed. New York: Simon, 1992. Print.
Stay tuned for the next one!
- Jack Goodenough