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Society believes in a wide range of supernatural notions, such as ghosts, witchcraft, and arguably higher powers such as gods. Often, when believing in such supernatural powers, individuals alter their behaviour due to the feelings provoked by said powers, altering their ability to utilize their own free will when deciding how to act. This is often seen throughout society where numerous collective groups base both their moral and ethical standards off of non evidential texts and ideas such as the bible, tarot card readings, and prophecies given by supposed psychics.
Although the play Macbeth written by William Shakespeare is over four hundred years old, its relevance is still apparent, as it deals with the subject of free will, and how supernatural beliefs often lead human beings to the actions they commit. More often than not, the supernatural are able to extract emotions from individuals, thus triggering emotions such as ambition, guilt and fear. Rather than allowing choices to be made off of one’s unaltered conscience, these theories subsequently lead people such as Macbeth to base their actions on both propicies and emotion. When Macbeth first meets the three witches after returning home from battle in act one scene three, the prophecies given to him entice his pre existing motivations and desire.
From the background information within the text, Macbeth is illustrated as both a courageous and ambitious character, as noticed by the King of Scotland, Duncan. “O valiant cousin! worthy gentleman!” (Shakespeare 1.2.26)This leads the impression of Macbeth to be positive, in the sense that he is recognized as a hero, whose ambition and courage has proved beneficial in battle. It is not until he meets the three witches that his determination is strengthened, negatively affecting his thought process and behavior. Initially doubtful of the witches, Macbeth acts frightened by the predictions; not because of the witches and the evil associated with them, but because he worries that the predictions have revealed his “black and deep desires” (Shakespeare 1.4.58) within him. It is the determination he has invested into the prognostications of the witches that initially leads Macbeth into using his ambition in a treacherous way. He forces the predictions to transpire with the murder of Duncan, rather than allowing time have it take place, or ignoring the predictions at all.
As time passes, Macbeth’s character increasingly experiences fear and paranoia as a result of his belief in the supernatural. Instead of putting faith into himself and his power when he feels his title of king is being threatened, he decides to seek out the witches for a second time, demanding answers regarding whether or not Banquo’s son Fleance will be a threat to his status. One of the first three predictions made by the sorceresses was that the son(s) of Macbeth’s friend would inevitably take his title, sparking his initial worries in act 1 scene 3 of the play. This sense of fear installed by the predictions of the supernatural lead macbeth to murder his companion Banquo, an act that would of never been carried out if not for the predictions. Macbeth’s paranoia grows as the news of Fleance’s survival emerges. Macbeth states that this fear continues to bother him in the following line: “Then comes my fit again. I had else been perfect.” (Shakespeare 3.4.22)
In addition to the witches, when the supernatural ghost of Banquo appears at the banquet, Macbeth reacts with fear and disbelief, leading him to act with irregular behaviour. The ghost leads him to find the witches yet again and succumb to new predictions yet again, where they confirm the descendants of his dead friend will rien.“Horrible sight! Now I see ’tis true;For the blood-boltered Banquo smiles upon meAnd points at them for his.” (Shakespeare 4.1.27-29)Macbeth allows the witches to alter his emotion, as knowing his future installs a sense of security within him, but also induces him further into a state of panic.
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