Fear motivates people to do many things; no matter if they
are right or wrong. In the play "Macbeth", the emotion,
fear, is the main motivating factor that influenced the
outcome of the play. Macbeth, afraid of being caught after
killing Duncan, and concerned that the witches' prophesies
would materialize, committed other murders. Lady Macbeth,
also being weighed down with guilt and fear, feels the need
to constantly wash her hands, cannot sleep and sleepwalks
during the night.
After killing the King of Scotland, Macbeth succeeded in
becoming the 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 because he felt that he had
risked everything to become King and after him none of his
family would 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 realized that if something is not done to
Banquo, then his sons will become King. Macbeth can't have
this and his fear becomes evident, "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
The next issue that Macbeth has to resolve is Macduff who
refuses to accept Macbeth as king and flees to England to
join Malcom. This act angers Macbeth and his fear that the
witches warnings about Macduff might be accurate, drive him
him to kill Macduff's family. Macbeth's fear is starting
to consume him; he can no longer sleep and is ravaged by
guilt over what he's done.
Lady Macbeth is also being consumed by fear and guilt and
she is slowing 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
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 urging 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. She ends up committing suicide in the hope that her
torment will end. "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.
The witches prophecies, are a main source of fear for
Macbeth. With each new vision, Macbeth falls deeper and
deeper into an evil spiral. Since their first prediction
materialized and he became king, he continued to believe
every one of their prophesies. As a result of their
warnings, he killed Banquo and Macduff. Next, in the
cave, Macbeth is told by the witches that he can't be
killed by any man born of woman. This gives him confidence
that in the battle against the Enlish, he will not be
defeated. He is also told that he will not be defeated
until the trees of Birnam Wood move towards his castle.
Fear drove Macbeth to commit heinous crimes and believe in
supernatural forces. Throughout the play his fear of being
caught, and the witches prophecies coming true, propel him
do many evil deeds. Fear became the main motivating factor
in the play.
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