Is there any evidence in Macbeth, regarding Macbeth's response to the three witches, that he has already entertained thoughts, ideas and ambitions of earning titles?Is there any evidence that...

Is there any evidence in Macbeth, regarding Macbeth's response to the three witches, that he has already entertained thoughts, ideas and ambitions of earning titles?

Is there any evidence that Macbeth has already thought about means of becoming the Thane of Cawdor or king?

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

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In Act I, scene iii of William Shakespeare's tragic play Macbeth, the witches first greet Macbeth using titles unfamiliar to him.

All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of
Cawdor!
All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter!

Macbeth, confused by the greeting, demands the witches explain why they address him in such a way.

Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more.

Here, one could assume that Macbeth is intrigued by the titles the witches address him by.

Later, when Angus and Ross address Macbeth as the Thane of Cawdor, his confusion deepens.

The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why do you dress me
In borrow'd robes?

After questioning the truthfulness of part of the witches' prophecy, Macbeth recognizes the problems he could face if the remainder of the prophecies come true.

This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth?

Here, Macbeth seems to be entertaining the idea about being king. Immediately though, Macbeth dismisses the thought and decides to leave the possibility of the throne to fate.

If chance will have me king, why, chance
may crown me
Without my stir. 

Therefore, while Macbeth does come dangerously close to truly entertaining thoughts about becoming king, he quickly dismisses them. That said, the fact that Macbeth questions the possibility of the prophecies being good (for him), one could readily interpret this as evidence that he is aware of his possible advancement above his newest title (the Thane of Cawdor).

Outside of that, it is not until Act I, scene v that Macbeth's ambition becomes apparent. Pushed by his wife, Macbeth decides to take fate into his own hands.

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