Macbeth’s Timing

The word ‘time’ is used frequently in the tragedy of Macbeth, and everything about timing seems to disfavor Macbeth’s success. He himself acknowledges the fact that time is not on his side, “time thou anticipat’st my dread exploits.” One of the problems with Macbeth’s perspective on time is that when he is promised to be Thane of Cawdor, it comes to fruition almost immediately. Macbeth’s expectations on the timetable for becoming King become unrealistically skewed through the hasty fulfillment of the first part of the Weird Sisters prophecy: “all hail Macbeth, hail to thee Thane of Cawdor.” They make him accustomed to instant gratification which is all part of their evil plan. They knew if he was promoted promptly, he would trust their authority in the future and therefore corrupt his rationality. Because Macbeth acts with haste and absolutely no sense of opportune timing or planning, he seals his own fate. He comments near the end of Act I that, “upon this bank and shoal of time we’d jump the life to come.” In his current state of circumstances in this scene, he reflects how things are to be done without regard to the consequences: corporeally or spiritually. We can safely say he disregards all consequences in the carrying out his heinous deed, and in both respects, things ended hellishly for this Scottish man.


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