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TOPIC: Macbeth and Hecate

Macbeth and Hecate 1 year 2 months ago #6806

Macbeth is a very enigmatic Play. There is one aspect of the Play which I find most curious; this is the character Hecate. Hecate is represented as a ' senior witch ' who appears in Act 3 scene 5 to chastise the 3 weird sisters. She says to them: " how did you dare To trade and traffic with Macbeth In riddles and affairs of death;.... But make amends now: "
Now all of this makes for great entertainment, but what is the idea behind it? From the point of view of ruining Macbeth's life it appears that the 3 weird sisters have done a pretty good job up until this point. They set him on a bloody course of ambition. He has killed his king and had others killed in his quest for power. One would think that he would be damned for this, which was the aim of the witches. However Hecate sees that there is a problem which needs fixing. Hecate wants to ruin Macbeth; her plan is put forth: 3:5:29 "draw him on to his confusion: He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear; And you all know security Is mortals' chiefest enemy."

In what way did the 3 sisters ' trade and traffic with Macbeth in riddles and affairs of death'? What could this mean? What could be some of the implications here? Does anyone have any ideas?

Bob Matheson
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Macbeth and Hecate 1 year 2 months ago #6807

  • Ron Severdia
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I'd argue that the three sisters have done a mediocre job up to that point and Hecat, after discovering this, whips her "apprentices" into shape to get the job done right (with "a baccanalia they had never dreamt of"). The three sisters have been meddling and manipulating in an amateurish fashion (not to mention they are are helping Macbeth, a man who has succumbed to doing everything for personal gain, by telling him prophecies of the future).
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Macbeth and Hecate 1 year 2 months ago #6809

Yes thank you, that must be the line; the 3 sisters are doing an amateurish job on Macbeth, and in some way helping him. Do you think that prophecies of the future are ' riddles and affairs of death '? It seems an odd way for Shakespeare to phrase it; and the idea of 'affairs of death' does not easily spring to mind from the actions of the sisters; prophecies of the future seem to refer to affairs of life. The warning from Hecate: " And you all know, security Is mortals' chiefest enemy " (3:5:32) is very interesting. It seems to apply to many situations in our lives, we are prone to make mistakes when we least think that we will. Hecate seems to place this fault above ambition, and even murder. After Macbeth feels that he cannot be defeated he acts differently. He is overconfident, even weary of life; he gives the speech: " tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow " Act 5 scene 5
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Macbeth and Hecate 1 year 2 months ago #6812

  • Ron Severdia
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Yes, the prophecies are the "riddles and affairs of death". Prophecies often come in the form of a riddle or cryptic message. Hecat's line at 3.5.32 is actually a proverb of sorts, stating that complacency and overconfidence will lead to not being safe.
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