Friend or foe?

Monday, October 17, 2011
So, after having finished reading the text as well as viewing a movie production of Macbeth, I was intrigued by one of the liberties the movie director (Patrick Stewart) took with the production that made me think twice about Macbeth.

In the movie, the three witches didn't appear as the normal pointy-hat, ugly, babbling old women. Instead, the witches were living among the normal crowd disguised as nurses. This brought them into a much more prevalent role as every time a dead person was rolled by, you saw at least one of the witches.

Now, how does this relate to Macbeth?

In Macbeth's final battle with Macduff, he states that he will never give up, though the witches' prophecies had doomed him. Then, in the movie, he has Macduff beaten and is about to stab him (causing Macbeth's victory), but is stopped by the image of the witches. Seeing them, a look of resignation comes over his face and he halts the blade. Then, as the witches' images fade, you hear a knife stab and an audible moan.

This made me think of another play I've been studying, Oedipus the King.

In this play, Oedipus is told at birth that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Then, to avoid this, his mother sent him to a far away land. Long story short, trying to escape these prophecies, he leaves his 'real' parents and travels far away. This leads him to kill his actual father and marry his mother.

The main theme in this play is that you cannot avoid your fate. Because of Oedipus' 'tragic flaw' of arrogance, he was destined to do these things and could not fight against it.

So, it made me think of Macbeth being like Oedipus. Destined to a pre-determined fate of the gods. Destined to kill Duncan and in turn be killed by Macduff to ensure that Fleance his own destiny. It made me wonder if in the movie he stopped because he finally decided to accept his fate rather than continue to fight against it.

Now, I personally don't share these beliefs of fate, but I wonder if Shakespeare was borrowing from Greek literature and once again bringing up these questions to be asked.


  1. Mason said...:

    I'm glad you watched the Patrick Stewart Macbeth. It is quite disturbing. This whole prophecy thing makes me wonder if sometimes they just become self fulfilling prophecies, if we think we can't change it, we will end up making it come true.

  1. Gabe Ruesch said...:

    I think you're right on in your last paragraph, as fate and self-fulfilling prophecies are interesting (and still pertinent for today) subjects. Do either of you have any self-fulfilling prophecy moments in life, whether Oedipus style or something else?

  1. Angela Grimes said...:

    Well I sure haven't done anything Oedipus worthy, but in response to Mason's comment, I think that Macbeth thought he could change it at first, but in committing the murder, he locked himself into his own tragic fate. Just like Oedipus' anger was the real cause of his murdering his father.

  1. Austin Maurer said...:

    I love this idea of prophecy and the ability to change it. It seems logical, on one hand, to think that it would be easy to change one's fate if one is aware of it. If there is a prophecy saying that you are going to die at a coffee shop, you would just always avoid coffee shops. Easy. But, its a prophecy. Can you really escape that? What if someone was chasing you down a dark alley and you duck into the back door of some building. Turns out, its a coffee shop, and you didn't know it. Kind of like Oedipus, who thought that he could avoid the prophecy but ended up fulfilling it unknowingly.

    Another interesting point with this, if there was a prophecy that stated that you would die in a coffee shop, does that man you couldn't die any other way? So then, could you go and do crazy, death-defying things with confidence that you wouldn't die because you weren't anywhere near a coffee shop? I think that this concept alone could make for a good Shakespeare play or a movie or something...

  1. Angela Grimes said...:

    I totally agree Austin. A coffee-shop death prophecy would make an intense movie. Then you could add in a couple side players like a crazy 'go hardcore since you can't die' wife and a mistaken path that leads to his father's death and critics would be arguing forever if it was a spin off of Oedipus or if it was a spin off Macbeth - and if his wife is really his mother, lol.

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