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Equivocation in Macbeth

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Equivocation in Macbeth In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses the theme of equivocation to effectively illustrate the evil nature of the witches. Equivocation is the use of ambiguous expressions in order to mislead. The prophecies of the witches play a mischief in this play, as they are a form of deception that at times use vague language to dodge an issue. The three influential prophecies, which the witches make in this play, are that the protagonist Macbeth will become the king of Scotland, Banquo will be the father of the king of Scotland, and Macbeth will not be killed until the Birnam wood moves to Dunsinane hill. The sources of these prophecies are the witches who put together the devious words into Macbeth's mind, which demonstrates the evil nature of the witches. In Macbeth, one of the earliest prophecies that the witches make is that Macbeth will become the king of Scotland. "All hail, Macbeth!


Hence, the witches are of evil nature because they indirectly ruin Macbeth's life. Another evil prophecy of the witches is that Banquo is to be the father of the king of Scotland. This lies in conflict with the prophecy described above, which states that Macbeth will be the king, because he is not the son of Banquo. The emblematic meaning of this prophecy is that Banquo will die, as he would create potential resistance for Macbeth, and Macbeth will not let his ambition let down, therefore, Banquo's life is at high risk. Later in the play, Macbeth conspires to kill his best friend, Banquo, and the latter tells his son, Fleance, that he would take revenge for father's death. Banquo says, "O, treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! / Thou mayst revenge. O slave!"(III.iv.18-19). The misleading and ambiguous nature of the witches is very well reflected in this prophecy. Third Witch: Hail!


The prophecy, "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until / Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / Shall come against him." (IV.1.92-94), is not very much explicit. Macbeth fell into his tragic flaw of ambition and ignored the metaphorical meaning of the prophecy. He says, "That will never be: / Who can impress the forest, bid the tree" (IV.i.94-95). Macbeth is finally killed at the end of the play, and Malcom becomes the king of Scotland, which signifies the return of order. In this tragic play, the witches ruin brave Macbeth's life by setting a trap that exploits his tragic flaw of ambition through the use of equivocal language. The indulgence of the witches in his life by making prophecies remarks for their supernatural evilness. Equivocation is found in the prophecies of the witches. Macbeth revolves around these prophecies; hence, equivocation plays an important role in this play. It is due to equivocation in these prophecies that Macbeth becomes disoriented and looses his balance, which makes this play a successful tragedy. Hence, the theme of equivocation extensively demonstrates the evil nature of the witches.

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4 star(s)

This student has shown a thorough understanding of this important aspect of the play and has made their points clearly and eloquently. They have referred to the text and have also explored language.

Marked by teacher Paul Dutton 07/06/2013

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