The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2300  Wednesday, 29 December 1999.

From:           Sean Lawrence <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 23 Dec 1999 11:12:59 -0800
Subject: 10.2279 Re: 3rd Murderer in Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2279 Re: 3rd Murderer in Macbeth

Eric W. Beato argues:

>Making a witch the third murderer
>is a step in the process of making the evil in the play NOT the fault of
>Macbeth himself.  I would never show the witches with any sort of power
>whatever to force the prophecies into occurrence.  I feel the witches
>are a SYMPTOM of the evil in the heart of Macbeth, never a CAUSE of it.

What about their complicity being something like the audience's?  Our
gaze, after all, is vital to everything which happens onstage and, in a
sense, makes it happen.  This doesn't mean that we actively intervene,
giving Macbeth instructions, for instance, but that we don't intervene.
Watching Macbeth kill Duncan is a sort of sin of omission.  If it wasn't
a play, we might be charged under a good Samaritan law.

Like the audience, the witches oversee everything.  They have, to use
the lingo, "superior awareness", but as with the audience or Macbeth
himself, knowing doesn't lead to ethical action.  On the contrary, like
the audience, the witches implicitly encourage Macbeth's evil.  Without
his assassination, the destiny which the witches have predicted wouldn't
unfold, and without it, the play which we've come to see (and the
circumstances of a play are a sort of destiny) wouldn't happen as it
ought.  We conspire, by our magical prophecies or aesthetic
expectations, to keep Macbeth from taking any other sort of action.  He
remains, in a sense, free, but his is a freedom frozen into fate, a
tragic parody of human choice.


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