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Macbeth

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Macbeth is the tragic story of an ambitious man with moral dilemmas and this combination is what ultimately leads him to his destruction. In the beginning of the story he appears to have a light illuminating from within him because he is represented as a noble man that is worthy of honour. However, as the play goes on, the audience is able to see that this light dims and then vanishes because he constantly tends to lean towards darkness in order to achieve his goals. In addition, Macbeth is a character that is attracted to all that is unnatural. Therefore, the audience is able to see how Macbeth’s life is manifested with thoughts and events that are not natural. Although, Macbeth’s outward appearance is natural his dark, unnatural, inward appearance is the reality of his character. Shakespeare is saying that appearances are generally not on par with reality and the increasing contrast of appearances and reality, is what leads to corruption in the world.

Through the character Macbeth, Shakespeare allows us to see that the outcome of extreme ambition without a sound sense in moral judgement is an inescapable evil. Before the witches come to Macbeth, and before his ambition gets the better of him, he is presented as a noble, loyal, and brave man. In act one, scene two, the Sergeant says “for brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name)”. This quote allows us to see that Macbeth appeared to others as a man that is worthy of honour. However, after hearing the witches prophecies, he realizes how much power and prestige he could have and his ambitions immediately elevate him. In act one, scene 3, Macbeth says [Aside] “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man”. His ambition stirs to the point where he abandons the philosophy of morals. We are able to see through his character and understand what type of person he truly is. The audience is able to see that in reality Macbeth has low moral standards although he appears to others as a man with high moral standing. He choses power and fame over honesty and acting righteously. In act two, scene two, Macbeth says “I have done the deed”. This portrays how he has allowed his ambition to control him while ignoring the quality of being virtuous and ignoring his immense guilt in committing a murder. In act three, scene two, Macbeth says “In restless ecstasy, Duncan is in his grave, After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst. Nor steel, nor poison, Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing, Can touch him further.” Macbeth attempts to find peace with the crime that he has committed but it is very difficult and then he transitions towards being envious of the man he has killed - Duncan, who sleeps peacefully and in harmony. Macbeth is not simply jealous of Duncan but instead he truly envies him. If Macbeth was simply jealous of Duncan, he would attempt to find harmony. However, Macbeth is envious of Duncan which implies that if Macbeth could do more harm to Duncan in order to satisfy his anger, he certainly would wound Duncan even more. Duncan’s appearances and reality were always aligned with each other and although he was a coward that wasn’t truly fit to be king, he was still a generous, and caring person. He was never corrupted and therefore Scotland was in safe hands. Contrasting Macbeth as a king and Duncan as a king, allows us to see how Duncan as a ruler pursued security for his people while Macbeth as a ruler pursued exponential power for himself. Macbeth’s highly ambitious quality combined with his morals that are nearly nonexistent, led him to persist on a vicious path with no means of escape.


Outwardly, Macbeth appeared to be serene and untroubled but within him he leaned towards darkness because of the uncertainty he had in his core. In act one, scene four Macbeth says [Aside] “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else overleap, For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires.” Macbeth had a desire to hide his dark ambitions from the “light” which is a metaphor for the world. He attempted to hide his darkness from the world so that other people would continue to see him as a man that is worthy of honour. However, after Macbeth murders Duncan in act two, scene two, he says “I am afraid to think what I have done. Look on it again I dare not.” This quote portrays the contradicting feelings that he has within him. Macbeth knows that he has dark ambitions and he desires to eliminate people in order to gain his throne but there is an element of uncertainty lingering in his mind. Macbeth does not know who he truly is, and that is why he sits on a fence with his decisions before falling onto the dark side. In act three, scene two, Macbeth says “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife!” Macbeth believes that he is evil and he is ready to commit more heinous crimes. However, he does not quite understand his own persona because his internal reflections are weak. Macbeth has little clarity about who he is as a person and therefore he does not know himself well enough to realize where he will end up. Macbeth’s outer appearance was deceiving and it was the opposite of who he really was because of the tremendous internal conflict he had within him.

Macbeth was a character that was attracted to all that was unnatural and although he appeared to other’s as agreeable to nature, his real character underneath opposed the natural world and this is what led him to his destruction. Macbeth’s wife, Lady Macbeth, is quite unnatural herself and he is attracted to her because of this quality. Lady Macbeth encourages and supports Macbeth’s unnatural perception of the world as well. In act one, scene five Lady Macbeth says “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be what thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature. It is too full of the milk of human kindness to catch the nearest way.” This quote was said by Lady Macbeth after reading the letter that Macbeth sent to her about encountering the Three Weird Sisters. It shows that Lady Macbeth fears nature. She believes that in order for the prophecies to come true, they must immediately resort to evil deeds, thus, disrupting the natural course that nature had planned. Macbeth also believes that they must commit a crime in order for him to gain power and glory. Although he is unsure at first, he still agrees to his wife’s unnatural plan to reach his goal. In act four, scene one, Macbeth says “I conjure you, by that which you profess (However you come to know it) answer me”. In this quote, Macbeth finds the witches and he orders them to speak. He pursued these witches who are unnatural beings and once he finally caught up with these unnatural individuals, he became embedded in a vicious cycle that was out of the ordinary. These unnatural beings warn Macbeth of the power of nature by showing him an apparition that says “Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him”. Macbeth underestimate the power of his enemy - nature. He disrupts the natural order of nature and he disturbs the peace that once existed and as a result he corrupts himself. However, nature always aims to restore itself and therefore the corruption Macbeth created for the people of Scotland was overcome by the forces of nature. The forces of nature were stronger than Macbeth and although he acted as nature’s enemy and attempted to battle against the natural course that nature created, in the end, nature was the victor. Macbeth appeared to other’s as an individual who is attracted to the pleasant, natural qualities of the world but his attraction to elements out of the ordinary was the reality of this story and this is what resulted in his corruption.

Throughout this story, Macbeth’s character had an increasing gap between appearances and reality, and this resulted in his corruption. Macbeth’s weak sense in moral judgement along with his strong ambitions, led to the diminishing of his character through the countless crimes that he committed. He believed that he in fact was a vicious person, he let his wife influence him to commit murder, he lied to the world, and then lusted after an unnatural world. Macbeth was strongly attached to dark thoughts, dark feelings and dark ambitions. He didn’t want the world to know of his darkness and therefore, he attempted to appear untroubled on the outside although he made himself a demon on the inside. Macbeth did this because of the uncertainty he felt about himself. He kept on disguising himself in masks that would never reveal the reality of his character but eventually his inner character was revealed and this led him to his destruction.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

Philia said...
Aug. 13, 2013 at 3:42 am:
You present a thorough and strong opinion with justification. Good! But you tend to repeat things, for example, about Macbeth's attraction to the unnatural. But overall, it was nicely written!
 
mnm08 replied...
Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:58 pm :
Thank you :)
 
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