In Macbeth, where are dignity, destiny, and defeat found?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dignity in the play is clearly seen in its conclusion when Macbeth chooses to fight and surely die rather than to surrender in battle to Macduff. His words make his feelings clear:

                                      I will not yield,

To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,

And to be baited with the rabble's curse.

Though Birnam Wood be come to Dunsinane,

And thou opposed, being of no woman born,

Yet I will try the last. Before my body

I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff;

And damned be him that first cries "Hold, enough!"

Macbeth's defeat follows this declaration of dignity shortly thereafter when he is killed by Macduff. In staging the drama, Macbeth's defeat becomes known when Macduff appears on the stage bearing Macbeth's severed head. Macduff greets Malcom by hailing him as the King of Scotland and pointing out "Th' usurper's cursed head." Scotland, Macduff then declares, has been liberated from Macbeth's tyranny.

The idea of destiny is found in the role the witches play in regard to their prophecies. Interpretations vary as to the amount of power they actually wield over Macbeth; however, whether they create Macbeth's miserable destiny or only deceive him into creating his own, the idea of Macbeth's fulfilling a specific destiny drives the plot of the drama.