Macbeth's Tragic Flaw: The Collapse of Emotion

Shakespeare frequently makes use of the adjective ‘weird’ in his tragedy Macbeth. Along with bringing to mind the supernatural and unearthly, the word also forces one to consider the nature of the word’s antonym – what is normal? Macbeth’s emotions and actions become progressively more disjointed through the course of the play. When ultimately he loses his ability to feel emotion, Macbeth also loses his humanity; in other words, he becomes ‘weird.’

The prophecy catalyzing Macbeth’s demise comes from the “Weird Sisters,” and ‘weirdness’ is prevalent throughout the play. For example, Ross says: “Threescore and ten I can remember well: Within the volume of which time I have seen hours dreadful and things strange; but this sore night hath trifled former knowings” (2:4:1-4). Ghosts appear frequently in Macbeth, as do paranormal occurrences. Shakespeare does not use supernatural elements merely to drive the plot, however; elements of weirdness help elucidate Macbeth’s tragic flaw by forcing the reader to define normalcy.

In order to fully understand the importance of ‘weird,’ one must also examine the play’s other themes and symbols. The play’s opening lines are full of dialectic speech and paradox. The Weird Sisters’ speech is full of...

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