Surmise: What It is in Macbeth

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Macbeth’s psychological decline is apparent throughout the play. Macbeth had started with a simple plan to just be king but throughout the play, fate had other plans for him. He did not take in factor of his character to be a megalomaniac. Macbeth being power-hungry is only one element in his mental demise. His whole start for ambition was started after the witches’ had told him his prophecy and after, they kept interfering in his ascend to the throne. Macbeth has many inner battles, deciding what to do to achieve his high authority in Scotland. He struggled with fighting between his good side and the bad side and usually sided with his bad. When Macbeth knew the outcomes, this allowed him to do whatever he wanted or kill anybody he wanted without any consequences from people. He did not, however, think that his guilt would be a major consequence. His guilt ripped him apart many times causing him to have hallucinations. The author of Macbeth, William Shakespeare, claims that Macbeth’s mental deterioration is all due to the seed of the witches’ prophecies, his conscience dealing with all the guilt, and the inner conflicts he has.

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The encounter with the witches in the beginning plant the seed of Macbeth’s greed for power. The witches’ words plunge Macbeth into a world of immorality and corruption. Macbeth hears of the prophecy of the three witches proclaiming “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth that shalt be king hereafter” (1.3 46-48). When Macbeth hears that he will be king, his mind immediately starts running towards what more he can do to ensure this prophecy will come true. Macbeth becomes so interested in how to make sure no one will get in his way and how to achieve the goal of these prophecies. Due to this, Macbeth becomes power-hungry and greedy, presenting another component that led him to his demise. Although he tries to act like he is the protagonist, his wife pushes him more and more until his ambition and greed can no longer be identified as a simple plan and drives him into inconceivable actions. Further on, when the Apparitions came again to tell Macbeth to beware of Macduff with their three prophecies. However, Macbeth, at that point, thought too much of himself and no longer “ Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear”(5.3 10). Macbeth’s thirst for power had taken a toll on his intellectual and restricted him from acting sensibly.

Throughout the play, Macbeth had to deal with conflicts within himself. Since the beginning, he doubted his ambitions and could not figure himself out. He constantly has self-doubt of how he is gaining power. When Macbeth heard the witches’ prophecies of him being king in the future, Macbeth immediately questions himself. His “thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical/ Shakes single state of man that function /Is smothered in surmise, and nothing is/ But what is not”(1.3 138-141). Macbeth struggles with the battle within himself about deciding to kill Duncan and become king or stay within the limits of morality. Later on, when Macbeth has made the final decision to carry on with the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth still knows his actions of misdeed. In aside, Macbeth asks the “Stars, hide your fires/ Let not light see my black and deep desires/ The eye wink at the hand, yet let that be/ Which the eye fears when it is done, to see” (1.4, 50-53). He prays that he will not get caught and fights to keep his desires hidden. He does not want to show his guilt across his face when the time comes. He does not want to look at his hand, but in the end, he is still going to see the horrible thing he had sought out to do. Macbeth’s inner disaccords show how he slowly reaches the point of mental deterioration where he can no longer differentiate between what is morally ethical versus what is considered an act of bad misconduct.

Despite all his flaws, Macbeth had a conscience and had to deal with it greatly. He loved his king greatly, but his ambition took power over him and lead him to kill his king. After he murdered his king, Macbeth could not sleep anymore nor pray either. He continuously cried to his wife as he could not bear as ‘One cried God bless us’ and ‘Amen’ the other/ As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands/ Listening to their fear. I could not say ‘Amen’/ When they did say ‘God bless us”(2.2, 29-32). Macbeth was so guiltridden and could not get the simplest actions of his daily routine done. His wife constantly called him a coward and baby, but this still showed he had a heart. After killing Banquo, Macbeth’s psychological health was destroyed completely. The overwhelming sense of guilt combined with remorse caused him to be delusional. Banquo was a close friend and he killed him for no apparent reason. He suffers unimaginable mental consequences as he hallucinates his friend’s ghost visiting him. When Macbeth is meeting with his Lords, he continues to hallucinate Banquo’s spirit and claims “If I stand here, I saw him” (3.4 74). Macbeth switches between a spiritual, fictional world where he encounters ghosts and things no one else deals with and then he is in the real world where he is ruining his life by making unlawful decisions.

Macbeth eventually ended up paying for misactions and paid dearly. Macbeth’s whole mental deterioration started with him listening to the witches’ out of pure greed and just liked what he was hearing. Macbeth had confliction within himself and wondered why he was having such evil thoughts. Eventually, he decided to advance his power and this led to him killing innocent people. Macbeth knew what he was doing was wrong and therefore was consistently guilt-stricken. His guilt caused him to have bad hallucinations and completely lose it. Macbeth is a great example of what happens when someone gets too greedy and self-involved and what happens as a consequence. 

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