How do the prophets in 'The Matrix' and 'Macbeth' use their foresight to manipulate the main characters to achieve their will?

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The three witches in 'Macbeth' and the Oracle in 'The Matrix' use their foresight to manipulate the main characters in a number of ways. They fulfil the first part of a prophecy to persuade the character to act on bringing the rest of the prophecy into being. In each media, there was at least one prophecy which is misinterpreted by the characters due to the wording given by the prophets. There was also an ignorance of previous prophecies by the main characters which was encouraged by the prophets. In both cases, the prophecies are reliant on other prophecies to be fulfilled, therefore cementing the idea that the characters were being 'played'. There is, however, a question of inevitability throughout all the prophecies. This idea is given by the Oracle to Neo, the 'saviour' figure of 'The Matrix' when he is told he was going to break a vase, so he turned to look for it and swept it off the bench,

"What's really going to bake your noodle later on is, would you still have broken it if I hadn't said anything?"

After being told what he interpreted as meaning he was not ''the One'', the Oracle gave Neo a prophecy that Morpheus, the father figure of the group, would sacrifice his life for him, and he would have to make a choice,

"In 'the One' hand you'll have Morpheus' life and in the other hand you'll have your own.

One of you is going to die."

Shortly after this he was presented with such a choice where he literally held the power of Morpheus' life in his hands. This is the first prophecy of the Oracle that Neo had seen fulfilled, he therefore had lost all scepticism. He then came to accept what the Oracle had said, leading him to take a step another crew member, Dozer, had labelled suicidal; going into a military controlled building in which Morpheus was being held and rescuing him at the expense of his own life. The Oracle used this prophecy to give Neo a feeling of guilt so he would choose to save Morpheus and the determination to actually do it.

Similar to the Matrix, Macbeth is told by the witches that he would achieve the position of thane of Cawdor followed by his being "king hereafter!" Immediately after this he is awarded the former position. He asks himself,

"If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir!"

He is, however, persuaded by his wife's greed to kill the king after not being awarded the next-in-line position of prince of Cumberland. The witches obviously could tell that such events would follow the prophecy therefore were safe predicting this and predicting that a son of Macbeth's colleague, Banquo, would succeed Macbeth and give birth to a long line of kings. In 'The Matrix' Neo was given a choice requiring his 'stir'. Macbeth was not given a choice; he was given a little so he would therefore crave more.

In both cases, there is an example of the characters misunderstanding the words of a prophet and because of this the prophecy has come into being. When Neo went to the Oracle, she put the words into his mouth that he was not 'the One'. She then commented,

"Sorry, kid. You got the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something...Your next life maybe."

Neo, along with the majority of people watching 'The Matrix' for the first time, interpreted this as meaning that he was not 'the One', however, she did tell him "you got the gift". Logically speaking, there can only be one 'One'. Nevertheless, he acted selflessly in his saving Morpheus. He probably would have acted with more pride and arrogance if he thought he was 'the One'. How is it possible that multiple people had the gift of 'the One'? It is also important to note that after Neo died saving Morpheus he is raised. It was only then he could act like what would be expected of 'the One'.

In 'Macbeth', Macbeth was told in an apparition,

"Be bloody, bold and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of men, for none of woman shall harm Macbeth."

Macbeth logically interpreted this as being no one. The people at the time would have thought similarly, however, one born by a caesarean section was considered to be not born of a woman as they were not born naturally. This prophecy was blatantly aimed at getting Macbeth to behave like it told him, with arrogance. Likewise, he was told in an apparition,

"Take no care... Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him."

Again he is told to relax, he is supposably untouchable. Obviously, the nearby forest would not come up the hill of which his castle is on. Ultimately, this prophecy would bring him to ruin and make him unprepared for the attack made on him by Macduff and his forces. They wished to conceal their numbers so they disguised themselves as branches as they came out the woods, giving the illusion of a moving forest coming up the hill. Unlike Neo's, the prophecy given to Macbeth was given with the knowledge of destruction.

In order to fulfil some prophecies, the characters act in ignorance of other prophecies. The greatest example of this is Neo saving Morpheus due to prophecy saying one of them will die. The Oracle had told Morpheus that he would find 'the One', this revelation of which had been shared with Neo. Neo, however, believes he is not 'the One'. Therefore, if Neo is not 'the One' and the Oracle had proven she did possess foresight, why did Neo not put two and two together; if Morpheus died, he would not find 'the One' and as was adequately put by the betrayer of the group, Seifer, about Neo,

"How can he be 'the One' if he's dead?"

Neo had to act in ignorance for the prophecy to be fulfilled, though we can assume this is no fault of his own. He was willing to die for Morpheus, how then was he blinded from basic human instincts of survival to save someone he barely knew?

In 'Macbeth', Macbeth was told to beware of Macduff to which he replies, "You've harp'd my fear alright." After this he killed Macduff's family, leaving Macduff the only survivor. He then thought that he was safe enough to "laugh to scorn the power of men". He had to push 'the One' thing that obviously threatened him from his mind to put his faith in his invincibility. This is the opposite of that experienced by Neo in that Macbeth suffered from Hubris, that is, both colossal ignorance and arrogance where he believed what he wanted to believe. Neo was blinded to keep him smart enough to know what he needed to do, yet ignorant enough for him not to question it.

Inevitability has a similar meaning to fate; would an event come into being with or without any action being taken? When Morpheus asks Neo if he believes in fate he replies,

"No...I don't like the idea I'm not in control of my life"

Both in 'The Matrix' and 'Macbeth' a strong question of inevitability overshadows all the prophecies. In 'The Matrix' the whole reason for Neo's being there was because of a prophecy. Morpheus apologised to Neo after Neo collapsed under the pressure this new life had put him under,

"I am sorry; we have a rule never to release a mind [from the Matrix] after a certain age."

There was much controversy among team members because of this golden rule. If they had not released Neo, how then could he be saved? In the case of 'The Matrix', a prophecy is given to make something happen, a catalyst used by the prophets to change things. As the Oracle has foresight she can interpret the outcome of choices therefore would not tell Morpheus he would find 'the One' if he wouldn't.

In 'Macbeth' inevitability plays a similar role. Macbeth is told in an apparition,

"Beware Macduff; beware the thane of Fife."

Because of this, he murders Macduff's family who then retaliates at the end of the play by killing Macbeth. As is said above in the prophecy that Macbeth should relax because he won't be vanquished until Birnam wood comes to Dunsinane hill, because he relaxed and disregarded the possibility of his downfall, he was caught unprepared therefore was vanquished. Could the events still occur without stir? As is with 'The Matrix', the events would not have been predicted if they would not have come into being.

It becomes clear that the main characters are definitely manipulated for the good of the prophets, however, in the case of 'The Matrix' it is done for the well-being of both them and the human race in general. The prophets obviously have an ability to understand what will happen in all scenarios. It is because of this they are able to 'predict'. Morpheus explains to Neo that the Oracle told him "Exactly what [he] needed to hear." This does not mean that what he needed to hear was for his own good but more so what he needed to hear in order to carry out what the Oracle was planning. This is true for 'Macbeth' to; however, the Oracle had peace in mind. We are unsure what the witches wanted to achieve. They obviously wanted the destruction of Macbeth and knew how to cause it, but their motive is unknown. Both medias show that all prophecies are inevitable; whether acted with someone's stir or not they will come into being.