One of the things that struck me most during our lecture with Professor Kassel was our discussion of the nature of evil and how it is represented in the play. Professor Kassel said that he believes that evil is everywhere, a piece of everything. He said that he was planning on using this idea in his performance of Macbeth by having the Weird Sisters possess certain characters in the play when they would seem most susceptible to embody evil. While reading the end of Macbeth I kept thinking about this last class in McKenna Theater and this portion of our lecture. I found myself examining the theme of evil and asking myself “do the Weird sisters really represent evil?”
I don’t think they do. First of all, they are three women who seem to tell the future. Therefore, in my eyes they represent The Fates and although commonly represented as evil, they actually aren’t. Disney movies such as Hercules and other pop culture products have construed this idea, but in Greek mythology the fates were deciders of lives. Together they had the power to grant one a good life, a bad one or some sort of life in between these two extremes (greekmythology.com). If Shakespeare was modeling his weird sisters after The Fates then I would assume that they are not evil but that they are only bestowing evil on Macbeth.
When I came to this conclusion I began to ask myself how the theme of ambition could play into this. It is widely agreed upon that Macbeth is a play about ambition but how can someone be ambitious, a word signaling a desire or plan to change, when their fate is already decided? Is Macbeth’s fate already decided?
In Greek mythology no one was willing to cross The Fates (greekmythology.com). This was assumedly because they had the power not only to decide a person’s fate, but to change that decision at any moment. If this is the case, then Macbeth’s fate is not decided and if it is not decided then there is room for him to be ambitious. Although, Macbeth is not only ambitious, he’s greedy and disrespectful of those who bestowed this knowledge upon him. Macbeth attempts not only to gain the thrown for himself but for his children as well, determining to kill Banquo and his family even though The Weird Sisters had decided that Macbeth was not to beget Kings. In addition, Macbeth calls the sisters “Hags” and demands answers of them, though he has done nothing to deserve answers (IV.I, 64). Therefore, maybe it is only because of Macbeth’s greed and disrespect of The Fates that they decide that he will die in the way he does. In the end Macbeth claims that life “is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” (V.V, 25-27). Maybe this is not to say that life is meaningless, but that the “idiot”, or common man, cannot control it. Maybe he's only saying that there is no point in being ambitious in one’s own right. I wonder if Shakespeare is trying to tell his audience that instead of taking matters into their own hands that they should appeal to a higher power?