MacBeth - Analysis of Fear
Fear, this motivates us to do many things no matter if they are
right or wrong. In the play Macbeth it was fear that was the main
motivating factor that influenced the outcome of the play. This can be
proved by the subsequent murders that followed after Duncan's, why
were these committed? Because Macbeth was scared of being caught and
having to pay for the wrongs he had done. Also look at Lady Macbeth,
he constant washing of her hands, sleepwalking and other behaviour
like this. All done out of fear, and like her husband fear of being
caught. The final piece of proof I offer is Macbeth's actions, they
were all due to fear, not only of being caught but of the witches'
prophecies, he was scared of them coming true and tried to stop them
from happening. This whole play was inspired by fear and what it and
do to a person.
To begin, we'll address Macbeth's subsequent murders, following
Duncan's. For Macbeth, he's just killed the King of Scotland and
blamed it on his son. It worked and he became 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, he risked everything to become King and
after him none of his family will 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 realizes that if something is not done to Banquo,
then his sons will become King. Macbeth can't have this, he's already
worried that his soul will go to hell for what he's already done. His
fear become evident in this scene also, "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 escapes in the attack. Next
Macduff refuses to accept Macbeth as king and flees to England to join
Malcom. And also the witches tell him to beware of Macduff, which
angers Macbeth and drives him to kill Macduff's family. More fear of
losing the impending battle with England, makes Macbeth start doing
anything that will give him an edge in the final battle. Macbeth's
fear is starting to consume him, he can no longer sleep and is ravaged
by guilt over what he's done.
As well Lady Macbeth is being comsumed by fear and guilt, 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 32-35]
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
pushing on 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, and ends up taking her own life
hoping that her torment will end now that she is dead. "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.
Now we come to the witches prophecies, these are a main source
of fear for Macbeth, after all where has he learned everything from.
With each new vision, Macbeth falls deeper and deeper into an evil
spiral. From the witches first prediction of Macbeth being king, which
made Macbeth kill to become king. As well as Banquo's children
becoming kings, this scared Macbeth as I previously mentioned. Also
when he went back to see the witches he gained some more knowledge,
"Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! beware Macduff; Beware the thane of Fife."
[Act IV, S I, L 77], well now that Macbeth has heard this, he believes
that he must kill Macduff, however he learns that Macduff has fled to
England, so Macbeth desides to kill his family. Next in the cave
Macbeth is told he can't be killed by any man born of woman, well this
gives him confidence that no matter what the English will not defeat
him. And he is also told that he will not be defeated until the trees
of Birnam Wood move towards his castle. He has put all his faith in
these prophecies, what the witches say must be true because of the
In conclusion you can see what fear can do to a person, it made
Macbeth mad for power which he ended up getting. But after the first
of his crimes the rest became easier for him, pretty soon he'd just
order it and not think twice. That was not the case when he first
murdered Duncan. All though the play his fear of being caught, and the
witches prophecies coming true make him do all these evil deeds. Fear
had become the main movating factor in the play. Hopefully you have a
better understanding of the play from all this.