In Macbeth, is Macbeth saying the witches' prophecy is unreliable, amoral or both?Passage referred to: "This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me...

In Macbeth, is Macbeth saying the witches' prophecy is unreliable, amoral or both?

Passage referred to:

"This supernatural soliciting

Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,

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

And make my seated heart knock at my ribs

Against the use of nature?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In Act I, scene iii, of Macbeth, Macbeth is perplexed by the prophecies given to him by the witches. What Macbeth is presenting to the audience (the reader or the viewer) is a paradox. A paradox is a statement which seems impossible to the reader (based upon its contradictory nature), but can be found to contain a truth.

To begin, one must understand what both unreliable and amoral mean. Unreliable is, basically, untrustworthy. Amoral is something which does not care whether something is right or wrong (regarding an action).

Therefore, the quote in question seems to be unreliable for Macbeth. Macbeth states that the prophecies question a truth fro him. Given that amorality does not consider something in regards to it being a truth, it cannot be amoral (or both). Instead, Macbeth simply does not believe that the prophecies speak the truth and he finds them unreliable.

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