Macbeth essay example

Equivocation is the practice of deliberately deceiving a listener without explicitly lying, either by using ambiguously misleading language or by withholding crucial information. What is the significance of equivocation in Macbeth?

Macbeth is a play about subterfuge and trickery. Macbeth, his wife, and the three Weird Sisters are linked in their mutual refusal to come right out and say things directly. Instead, they rely on implications, riddles, and ambiguity to evade the truth. Macbeth’s ability to manipulate his language and his public image in order to hide his foul crimes makes him a very modern-seeming politician. However, his inability to see past the witches’ equivocations—even as he utilizes the practice himself—ultimately leads to his downfall.

Sometimes, equivocations in Macbeth are meant kindly, as when Ross tries to spare Macduff’s feelings by telling him that his wife and son are “well.” Macduff initially takes this to mean that his family is alive and healthy, but Ross means that they are dead and in heaven. More often than not, though, such ambiguous statements lead to harm. The witches’ deceptive prophecies are perhaps the most destructive instances of equivocation. They tell Macbeth that he can never be harmed by anyone “of woman born,” but they neglect to tell him that Macduff was surgically removed from his mother’s womb and therefore doesn’t fall into that category. Similarly, they tell Macbeth that he can’t be defeated until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, but they don’t alert him to the possibility that the opposing army might advance on his castle under cover of branches cut from Birnam trees.

Macbeth ignores several signs that might have alerted him to the witches’ deceptive capabilities. Banquo warns Macbeth to be wary of their predictions since evil creatures will sometimes win people’s confidence with “honest trifles”—small truths—only to betray them more deeply in the future. Indeed, the witches promise Macbeth fame and honor while withholding important information about the consequences that will follow. If Macbeth had been listening closely to the witches’ language, he might have picked up on their potential for trickery himself. The three Weird Sisters greet Banquo with a series of riddling titles, hailing him as “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater” and “Not so happy, yet much happier.” The phrases sound like nonsense, but in reality, both assertions in each statement are true. Banquo will have a lesser title than Macbeth but is the greater (i.e., more moral) man. He will not be as fortunate as Macbeth in the short term, as he will soon be assassinated, but will ultimately be much more fortunate because he won’t be made to suffer the everlasting torments of hell. At no point do the witches lie to Macbeth—he simply hears what he wants to hear and ignores the rest.

It is ironic that Macbeth falls for the witches’ equivocations because Macbeth and his wife are master equivocators themselves. Duncan laments that there’s no method with which one may find “the mind’s construction in the face,” meaning that it is impossible to know what a person is truly thinking just from his or her outward appearance. Lady Macbeth mimics this language when she directs her husband to look like an “innocent flower” in order to hide the “serpent” that truly lurks in his heart. The Macbeths know how to use imagery and appearance to conceal the truth, and sometimes they even use those skills on themselves. Macbeth asks the stars to extinguish their light so that his “eye” cannot see what his “hand” does. Similarly, Lady Macbeth asks the night to grow as dark as the “smoke of hell” so that her knife cannot see itself slash its victim. The Macbeths know that their acts are wicked, so they try to hide the knowledge of their deeds from their own consciousness. In a sense, they wish to equivocate to themselves.

Just before Macduff kills him, Macbeth swears that he will never again believe those “juggling fiends” that manipulate words and speak “in a double sense.” However, it’s possible that the three Weird Sisters are not “friends,” or demons, at all, but rather agents of morality who bring Macbeth to justice by trapping him with his own tricks. The drunken porter, imagining himself the keeper of hell’s gates, pretends to admit “an equivocator that could swear in both the scales against either scale, who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven.” One can imagine Macbeth receiving a similar welcome from the true porter of hell’s gates.

Calculate the price
Make an order in advance and get the best price
Pages (550 words)
$0.00
*Price with a welcome 15% discount applied.
Pro tip: If you want to save more money and pay the lowest price, you need to set a more extended deadline.
We know how difficult it is to be a student these days. That's why our prices are one of the most affordable on the market, and there are no hidden fees.

Instead, we offer bonuses, discounts, and free services to make your experience outstanding.
How it works
Receive a 100% original paper that will pass Turnitin from a top essay writing service
step 1
Upload your instructions
Fill out the order form and provide paper details. You can even attach screenshots or add additional instructions later. If something is not clear or missing, the writer will contact you for clarification.
Pro service tips
How to get the most out of your experience with MyhomeworkGeeks
One writer throughout the entire course
If you like the writer, you can hire them again. Just copy & paste their ID on the order form ("Preferred Writer's ID" field). This way, your vocabulary will be uniform, and the writer will be aware of your needs.
The same paper from different writers
You can order essay or any other work from two different writers to choose the best one or give another version to a friend. This can be done through the add-on "Same paper from another writer."
Copy of sources used by the writer
Our college essay writers work with ScienceDirect and other databases. They can send you articles or materials used in PDF or through screenshots. Just tick the "Copy of sources" field on the order form.
Testimonials
See why 20k+ students have chosen us as their sole writing assistance provider
Check out the latest reviews and opinions submitted by real customers worldwide and make an informed decision.
Business and administrative studies
excellent work
Customer 452773, March 9th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
always perfect work and always completed early
Customer 452773, February 21st, 2023
Business and administrative studies
looks good thank you
Customer 452773, March 3rd, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Thank you for your hard work
Customer 452773, October 19th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Excellent job
Customer 452773, March 17th, 2023
History
Don't really see any of sources I provided, but elsewise its great, thank you!
Customer 452697, May 8th, 2021
10th grade English
very good
Customer 452773, March 26th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
great job as always
Customer 452773, February 26th, 2023
Business and administrative studies
Excellent job
Customer 452773, March 9th, 2023
Human Resources Management (HRM)
excellent job
Customer 452773, July 17th, 2023
Social Work and Human Services
Although it took 2 revisions I am satisfied but I did receive it late because of that.
Customer 452603, March 25th, 2021
English 101
great summery in terms of the time given. it lacks a bit of clarity but otherwise perfect.
Customer 452747, June 9th, 2021
11,595
Customer reviews in total
96%
Current satisfaction rate
3 pages
Average paper length
37%
Customers referred by a friend
OUR GIFT TO YOU
15% OFF your first order
Use a coupon FIRST15 and enjoy expert help with any task at the most affordable price.
Claim my 15% OFF Order in Chat
Close

Sometimes it is hard to do all the work on your own

Let us help you get a good grade on your paper. Get professional help and free up your time for more important courses. Let us handle your;

  • Dissertations and Thesis
  • Essays
  • All Assignments

  • Research papers
  • Terms Papers
  • Online Classes
Live ChatWhatsApp