Macbeth – I.i to I.iv

Seniors,

After reading the first three or four scenes from Macbeth in class today, think back to our list of synonyms/antonyms of “ambition” from class on Friday (words like “hope,” “desire,” “greed”) and other words we used to group our quotes (fate, grief, regret).

Pick one of these nouns and connect it to the beginning scenes of the play with a quote or two. How do we see “hope” or “desire” or “fate” etc. showing themselves at the beginning of the play?

Advertisements

31 thoughts on “Macbeth – I.i to I.iv

  1. I think all these words connect very deeply to the story, especially the beginning because I feel like McBeth hasn’t even realized that he desires Duncan’s thrown until the idea of being king is “planted” in his head. Do you believe in the fortune teller or do you think this whole play is based on a blatant lie that sets off a chain of events from an idea that sprouted deeply from his ambitions which already existed, buy once he was brought on to believe he was “destined” for the throne he was ready to pursue this, ambition turned into greed, and greed turned into faith, is solidified his end.

    Like

    • “I feel like McBeth hasn’t even realized that he desires Duncan’s thrown until the idea of being king is ‘planted’ in his head.”

      Great point, Izayah, and something we’ll definitely discuss later: is this Macbeth’s “fortune”/”fate”, or is he really in control of his actions as the play progresses? Is there a quote somewhere that might display this?

      Like

  2. One noun that I see connects to the first few acts of the play is fate. There can be many different interpretations of fate whether it be in a negative or positive way. Though we have not read the whole play yet, there have been traces of fate messing around with the three witches and Macbeth and Banquo. The three witches set off the play by messing with other people’s fate and casting bad spells on them. Macbeth is apparently told that he will become king/thane after the current on is killed and Banquo’s sons are the next in line for this power. This is what is destined to happen. In this case, it can connect to terms like greed and desire because even though he doesn’t know it yet, Macbeth had this idea that he would become a thane or higher leader and that he would be able to obtain all this great power but only, “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir,” (pg 69, lines 144-146), meaning that if it is by chance, fate, then it is supposed to end up that way.
    – Jennifer Vo

    Like

    • So if the witches are casting spells and “messing with other people’s fate,” and we know that often the witches are referred to as the “weird sisters,” could we make the leap and say that the witches ARE fate itself?

      Like

  3. Chosen word: Fate
    Fate is an inevitable and uncontrollable force that determines the ultimate demise or premise of our life. This word manifests itself in the beginning scenes of Macbeth primarily with the prophetic words of the witches. The second witch states “All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor”. This wasn’t a prediction at the time rather an affirmation of current event but it was unknown to Macbeth. They later on discovered that the second witch was actually veracious in that prediction. It was this also which gave credibility to the third witch’s claim which affirmed Macbeth’s position as future king of Scotland. Macbeth feels as though he is fated to become the king. What s averse to “fate” however is the fact that Macbeth ponders a method to achieve that fate. He is unsatisfied with being the Thane of Cawdor and ponders killing the king. He describes it as a “suggestion whose horrid image unfixes my hair” but of one that exists nonetheless. This puts into question the validity of fate, as I previously defined it as an inexorable premise, whereas Macbeth considers it a methodological one. This battle between attaining fate and inheriting it could cause some problems for Macbeth later in the play.

    Like

    • “What’s averse to ‘fate’ however is the fact that Macbeth ponders a method to achieve that fate.”

      As someone who’s read the play before, I need to try to comment on this as objectively as I can. Don’t we all work to “achieve” our fate somehow? Is Macbeth doing this differently than how an average person would achieve his/her fate?

      Like

  4. A word I would connect the first few scenes to is “desire” because when MacBeth learns that he will be king soon from the witches, it definetly sparked his interest. At first he was skeptical of the witches but when one of their predictions came true (that he would be the lord of Cawdor) he started to believe them so now that they are saying he is going to become king, it’s planted in his head. To be king, the present king, Duncan, has to to die one way or the other. MacBeth at first was against the idea of killing his king with his own force but instead of saying that he doesn’t want to be king if that means Duncan has to die, he says,
    “And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
    Against the use of nature?
    Are less than horrible imaginings.” (Shakespeare 69)
    So that means that the thought of killing his king before his time sounds horrible to him, it makes his heart pound and he just can’t imagine it. But he doesn’t say that if Duncan dies in other ways he wouldn’t take the throne. So deep down I think that he desires Duncan to die so he can be the king.

    Like

    • Great choice of a quote, Tina, but go just a couple lines further and we see the word “murder.” So, while Macbeth does say out loud that he’d take the crown if chance allows it, Macbeth does still think about killing him.

      Like

  5. The beginning sure does display words of ambition, a word I would affiliate the first few scenes with is greed. Ambitiousness pays a price when the person in charge of their own ambition is not careful. That is to say MacBeth was greedy after the witches assumptions on his position as the Thane of Cawdor. The witches had told him he was the Thane and that he would be King, but when he got the news that he was Thane, it wasn’t enough. This shows MacBeth’s greed for more power. He also had the thought of killing the present King, this way he could shape his future instead of letting fate do its job, again greed. From a psychological perspective, ambition is an ego-defense; if MacBeth’s ego is bigger than his courage, it could lead to self-destruction. Ambition is built on factors such as envy, revenge, fear of failure or rejection, etc. I am sure MacBeth envies the King’s position therefore he wants to kill and overtake the King. MacBeth says,”Why hath it given me earnest of success, commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor; If good, why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair” (Shakespeare 12). The suggestion refers to the thought of the king’s death and his greed for more power even though he is already Thane.

    Like

    • “If MacBeth’s ego is bigger than his courage, it could lead to self-destruction.”

      Interesting that you’ve brought psychology into the discussion, Brian. We’re actually going to spend quite a bit of time looking at the psychological motivations of some of the characters in this book.

      Like

  6. My desired word is “weird”. Also known as chance which can be a synonym for fate. Weird in present day context can be easily shown by the witches in general. But as mentioned by my colleagues, weird in the “Macbeth-ian” context is shown in the very first lines of this play. The witches were displayed meeting at thunder and lightning, while discussing their next rally. It is in that moment that they decide, “Upon the heath. There to meet with Macbeth” (Glaser, 3). Signifying that Macbeth was chosen for something very specific, they eventually set off to implement their plan. Finally in scene three, Macbeth’s fate was established when the witches reveal that it was Macbeth’s destiny to become King of Cawdor and Scotland. As if that justification wasn’t enough, Ross, one of Scotland’s nobleman, confirms the witches’ prediction, thus giving Macbeth the title of King of Cawdor.

    Like

    • “Signifying that Macbeth was chosen for something very specific.”

      Good choice of words here, as it’s easy to get lost in the fate v. free will argument here with Macbeth’s upcoming actions. But, as you point out, Macbeth was clearly chosen as an individual. Why would the witches single him out specifically? Go back to the idea of “weird” = “fate.” Does this shine a light on who or what these witches really are?

      Like

  7. The word choose is fate. This word connects to the connects to the first few scenes when some of what the witches said are actually coming true. But Macbeth and Banquo connect to this word in different ways. Macbeth says to Banquo “Do you not hope your children shall be kings, when those that gave the Thane of Cawdor to me promised no less to them?” (Shakespeare 67). In this quote you can see that Macbeth believes it is his fate to be become king. However Banquo is not believing what the witches is told them is his fate. He does believe what the witches said to him will actually happen to him like they for Macbeth.

    Like

    • You had me until your last sentence — I like the line you pointed out as showing Banquo’s reaction to the prophecy is different than Macbeth’s. He might even take it humorously! But how is Banquo believing that what the witches tell him not the same as him not believing that his fate is to beget kings?

      Like

  8. Hope.
    From the first few scenes today in class, one part of the book stood out very clearly to me. It was scene 3 in which the witches tell Macbeth and Banquo of their fates.This scene set up the book for me, it represented so many questions that hopefully will be answered throughout the book. If what the witches say has already partially come true what else will happen, that ’tis the question. This moment is when I see the hope come through, MacBeth’s hope for his fortune told fate to come true, and to be just as successful as everyone s making him out to be. In scene 3 Banquo says, ” What, can the devil speak true? …. But ’tis strange./ And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,/ The instruments of darkness tell us truths,” (Shakespeare 67). From this quote I can see Banquo question what he already knows, but even if the darkness can provide him light he is willing to have a spark of hope in that vision. That spark of hope is most clearly seen when he uses the words ‘darkness tell us truths’, meaning even the bad has light in it similar to the philosophy of the ying yang symbol. Overall, I think that as we read more into the novel it will be more evident that the word hope has a huge underlying tone to plot.

    -Lilly 🙂

    Like

    • Interesting take on that line, Lilly. I read it with more of a darker undertone but I’m focusing on the “win us to our harm” part. I guess my question to you would be what does Banquo already know and what is his vision you reference?

      Like

  9. In the beginning of Macbeth there are witches who seem to speak of fate though later on in chapter three there is a lot of “Desire” going on. In scene three there are people who want Macbeth to be king (as much as I could understand about Macbeth so far).”Might yet enkindle you unto the crown… In deepest consequence. Cousins, a word, I pray you.” (Scene 3, Line 120-127). Yet Banquo does not seem like the only one that has a certain desire for Macbeth to be crown king. Ross speaks a bit about that subject. Although we see these characters talking about Macbeth and him being king he does not seem that into the idea, almost as if he is shying away from it with his comments the he makes. Twice he mentions something about children being kings and near the end of scene three he says “If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me, Without my stir” (scene 3, line 140-145) which sounds like he is belittling himself.
    Note:Was not in class so reading this was like reading hieroglyphics under water, did not understand a lot of things even after re reading

    Like

    • You did pretty well here, Vinh, on your own. You mention the word “chance” a lot here, so what do you think one of the prevailing themes will be in the play? (Also, only the witches refer to Macbeth as a future king. The others are talking about him getting the crown of Thane — or Lord — of a place called Cowdor.)

      Like

  10. A noun that connects back to the beginning of the play is Desire. I say this because when scene 3 came up, it talked about the witches prophecy on Macbeth’s future. Macbeth is a courage so warrior, but how he reacted to the witches prophecy changed how he thought and it showed a new side to Macbeth. I say this because Macbeth got a huge desire for power and prestige for becoming king, Thane of Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor as the witches stated. It made me realize this when in the play it stated ” Your children shall be kings. You shall be King. And Thane of Cawdor too. Went it not so?” (Shakespeare,10). This demonstrates a bit of cockiness and also could be disre in my opinion since he saying that he is going to be those things no matter what,but as the play continues it also demonstrates how Macbeth may require murder in order to be what he is supposed to be. He allows himself to take such actions since it is what he desires and instead of dismissing what the witches said, he listens to them and deals on the situation on his own. I also think their is confusion going on because in the play in scene 3 it states “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater,” (Shakespeare, 9). This shows confusion because it is demonstrating that nothing is quite as what it seems, which makes me not understand on what they are trying to say about Banquo. I think at this point you can’t believe everything the witches say since they are contradicting in my opinion.

    Like

    • Eddie, you make a couple of good points here. 1) We know that “desire” is synonymous with “ambition”, and Macbeth seems full of both at this point, doesn’t he? (Or at least considering ambition.) 2) Your point about the witches is wonderfully phrased: “nothing is quite as what it seems.” This is going to happen many times to many characters in this play, especially because of the witches. Just so you’re not completely frustrated though, we will find out exactly what they mean when they call Banquo “lesser than Macbeth, and greater.”

      Like

  11. From the start where we started with the three witches the story started to show hope and desire. To me they started to show hope and desire when the fight was to be won and they could finally meet Macbeth. When the second witch said “When the hurly-burly’s done, When the battle’s lost, and won”(lines 3,4). These First couple scene show desire when Macbeth started to have the dreams of killing his best friend Duncan who is king at the time. His conscious was getting to him saying things that he could do it and he can cover it up nobody will ever know it was him. But then he came to his census and said if it is destine for him to become king then he will leave it all to fate. So we also see fate coming into these couple of senses. That’s why he says it aside to nobody “If chance will….my stir”(lines 145 on pg. 107).

    Like

    • Good ending comments, Ada. Sure, the witches do have a hope or desire to meet with Macbeth, but what are their motivations? Are they truly “fate” or are they just trying to mess with him for their own evil joys?

      Like

  12. I think that all the words connect to the story in many ways, but the one i would pick is fate. Fate connects to the story because though we only started the play, the three witches have already mentioned the fate of Macbeth, Banquo, and king Duncan by saying “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter”. I think that this type of fate lead to words like hope, desire, or greed because now that they know these things might happen they now have the desire for it to happen (as long as they don’t have to do anything themselves intentionally to make it happen) and hopes that somethings do happen. Greed has a possibility of happening if they were to get impatient with there fate that they were told and try to make it happen faster.

    Like

    • Gianni, nice observation that Macbeth’s fate is really the fate of King Duncan and Banquo as well. I’ve never thought of it like that. Also, that’s a great point about fate being just a couple steps away from ambition — or in other words, “to get impatient with there fate that they were told and try to make it happen faster.”

      Like

  13. I think the word hope depicts the beginning of the play every well. Macbeth hopes that the witches are trustworthy to tell him he will be king, but they have to kil the current King. And not everyone of them will be able to be king. The hope is he will be. Angus… I believe is the one who did not want to kill the king, he thinks it’s incredulous but he’s going along with it even though he’s really skeptical. Overall, all these word depict the story very well.

    Like

  14. There certainly is hope in the beginning of the play, sure. But what happens when hope turns sour? Or is ambition just “hope” with motivation? (Also, don’t give Angus so much credit. He’s a super minor character here.) Only Macbeth and Banquo know the witches’ prophecy — no one else.

    Like

  15. One noun that on our list that connects to the beginning of the
    scenes of the play is fate. When Macbeth and Banquo come across
    the three witches. The witches said that one day Macbeth would be
    a king and Banquo’s sons would later on be king too, “Third witch:
    Thou shalt get kings, though be none. So all hail Macbeth and Banquo”.
    The witches gave Macbeth and Banquo their fate. Later on this supposal fate
    becomes Macbeth’s “greed” and “desire”. This is because once
    you have your fate you work towards that by doing whatever it takes.
    -Jerry Nguyen

    Like

  16. The word that i would think best describes the beginning of this play would be desire because it drives every word to reality. when you tell a kid that there going to get something they anxiously wait for it or they start to do good things to persuade the adult to give it to them earlier because they are impatient. macbeth in this situation acted like a little kid he desired it so much that he started doing things to get what he was promised faster he figured that if he did certain things he could advance the process of receiving what he was promised he desired it wether he wanted to admit it or not through the actions of the beginning showed how macbeths behavior changed slowly as he found out this prophecy he slowly started to desire it more and more and the more he thought about it and wanted more it changed him in all so desire in my opinon started the whole play and was the motor for the transpiring acts.

    Like

  17. The word i see that connects to the beginning scenes of the play is fate. Fate is the development of events beyond a person’s control, or in greek mythology the three goddesses who preside over the birth and life of humans. And which you see the three witches mess with Macbeth and Banquo’s fate. At the start of the play you see the three witches messing with other characters fate, telling Macbeth he will become the new king after the present king is exiled. And that was his fate, predetermined. Hearing this fate/ fortune MacBeth’s hopes for his fate to come true. Wishes to be successful.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s