Beowulf vs Macbeth: Compare and Contrast Essay
Literature is full of different genres and specific styles that help create varied works. The pieces of literature are imaginative and various writings that may be united under the genres and styles. However, even when the genres differ, it is possible to come across some specific similarities. This short essay aims to make a comparison of Beowulf and Macbeth – two outstanding pieces of British literature. Reading Beowulf, an Anglo Saxon poem, and Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the first impression is that they are not alike.
However, when one reads and compares Beowulf vs Macbeth, it becomes clear that a tragedy, the genre of Macbeth, and the epic poem, Beowulf’s genre, have several similarities. However, the differences are more numerous. Comparing and contrasting the styles of these two plays, the similarities are more interesting for consideration as they are more difficult for identification.
It is important to point to the similarities in the two pieces of literature analyzed. How are Beowulf and Macbeth similar? They are as follows: the presentation of the heroes, the consideration of the ethical themes, and the final stages of the plays — the latter help to draw some ethical conclusions based on the peculiarity of the actions of the heroes.
It is not a secret that the presentation of the characters differs from genre to genre, however, reading both these pieces of literature, it becomes obvious that both heroes in the epic poem and in the tragedy are notable people full of brave intentions and desire to act in favor of the society. Who can Macbeth be compared to? He is a tragic hero who is a leader in the community, possesses some particular extraordinary features. Here is how the author describes him,
For brave Macbeth–well he deserves that name–
Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,
Which smoked with bloody execution,
Like valor’s minion carved out his passage
Till he faced the slave;
Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,
Till he unseamed him from the nave to the chaps,
And fixed his head upon our battlements (Shakespeare 8).
The characteristics of Beowulf is as follows, “the hero had acted with flawless courage… he was the most famous of exiles, a protector of warriors, acknowledged among men for his valorous deeds, his remarkable strength – after Heremod’s struggles came to an end, the eclipsed that hero (Beowulf 26)”.
The above quotes from the texts show that similarity is undeniable. Being tragic and epic characters, they are resembling in being the protectors and hopes for their societies.
The author presented their main characters in different genres as similar to no other styles could perform. Therefore, one can conclude that tragic and epic genres are identical in describing the main characters, the heroes of their times.
These two pieces of writing, tragic and epic, help consider the ethical and moral side of the discussion. Macbeth makes a severe mistake. His pride and self-assurance do not allow him to see all the warnings, and in the end, the hero dies being combated and destroyed.
The death of the main character is the characteristic feature of the tragedy as the genre. Macbeth stands on the path of violence, “seeing himself at a point of no return” (Beardwood and Macdonell 7).
Shakespeare presents this part in the text as follows, “Returning were as tedious as go o’er’” (Shakespeare 89). Beowulf is also concerned with human values and moral choices. The epic heroes “are capable of performing acts of great courage; they are also capable of suffering intensely for their deeds” (Warsh and Spring 22).
Thus, the ethical concern of the heroes is one more similarity in two pieces of writing. However, the close consideration of the moral actions of each of the heroes helps conclude that pride was the failure in Macbeth, while Beowulf managed to conserve the positive attitude of the society by means of his actions. Struggling with dragons and other dangerous creatures, Beowulf showed himself as a person of great courage and fearless performance, ambitious and able to cope with difficulties.
Of course, the tragedy and the epic poem contain more common themes that are presented in the plays, more problems that are solved and more conclusions which allow the audience to create a personal opinion about the main character as the heroes who are the leaders of the society.
The final scenes are significant in understanding the primary purpose of the discussion. Considering Beowulf as the character who kills monsters for the benefit of the mankind, the authors wants the audience to look at him as not as on the fighter, but as on “a large scale of the human history” (Warsh and Spring 23), even though the epic poems do not have the aim to present the history in the chronological order. Several specific situations are considered, and a reader can conclude the whole of humankind.
Macbeth has different conclusions where his mistakes become apparent. The death of the main character is the main characteristic feature of the play that offers audience food for thoughts about what could be in case Macbeth performed in another way. The human actions are the basis for analysis, and the reader should get the main idea of the last speeches.
She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing (Shakespeare 146).
These lines are full of pain to Lady Macbeth. However, even her death does not make Macbeth look at life from another angle. He understands what the warning says when it is too late.
Therefore, one can conclude that tragedy and epic poetry are two different genres. However, having considered the examples of Beowulf vs Macbeth, the former an Anglo Saxon poem, and the latter by William Shakespeare, one can conclude that there are several similarities between these two plays.
The features of the main characters, their goals as the leaders of the society, the moral and ethical lessons, and the final scenes which are the most important in understanding the main idea of the plays are the things that make Beowulf and Macbeth similar. Tragedy and epic poems are different genres aimed at achieving various goals using particular methods; however, the plays under consideration help to conclude that the similarities are also possible even within multiple genres.
Beardwood, Robert and Kate Macdonell. Macbeth. New York: Insight Publications, 2011. Print.
Beowulf. New York: Wordsworth Editions, 2007. Print.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Filiquarian Publishing, LLC., 2007. Print.
Warsh, Lewis and Michael Spring. Beowulf. New York: Barron’s Educational Series, 1984. Print.
Comparison of the Opening Scene of Macbeth by Orson Welles and The Tragedy of Macbeth by Roman Polanski Compare and Contrast Essay
Macbeth is one of the most popular Shakespeare’s plays that have different film adaptations. Comparing and contrasting the opening scene of the best-known adaptations by Roman Polanski and Orson Welles, it is possible to notice that although both directors use the same classical plot and effectively transform Shakespeare’s text, they see this story from the different points of view.
Thus, Polanski preserves the realistic description and tries to make film more shocking in order to demonstrate the evil part of Macbeth and emphasizes the appearance of the characters instead of their dialogues, while Welles involves witches as the characters that bring some sense with their words rather than their appearance, making film more impressionistic and picturesque.
The opening scene of The Tragedy of Macbeth starts with the words “fair is foul and foul is fair” that Polanski takes from the end of the Shakespeare’s scene (The Tragedy of Macbeth). On the other hand, Welles starts film using the last words of act four: “Double double toil and trouble” (Macbeth).
Due to the different understanding of Shakespeare’s intensions, both directors emphasize different ideas and elements of the story. Welles supposes that witches can be the agents of evil and, thereby, the audience can expect the forthcoming troubles. At the same time, the director does not indicate the names of those withes as it is mentioned in Shakespeare’s text, he just makes hints about the possible problems that the witches can make.
Perhaps, Orson Welles supposed that the audience of the XX century was not familiar with the certain spirits of the Elizabethan time and with their names, moreover, in this context, it was not important to mention the names, the director just wanted to emphasize the evil background of the events.
Roman Polanski shows the appearance of the witches trying to emphasize the different sides of the nature of the characters. As it was mentioned before, adaptation of Polanski seems shocking because of the bloody scenes and specific mood of the actions. His witches are grotesquely ugly; however, their characters are not opened well. The director wanted to emphasize their appearance instead of providing more psychological explanation.
The interior elements of the adaptation of Polanski distract an attention of the audience from the words of witches. The voices of the witches are screeching and difficult to understand.
It is impossible to comprehend the meaning of this scene in case if one is not familiar with Shakespeare’s text. Therefore, the opening scene of Polanski seems poorly done. The opening scene is the most important moment of the film and it is difficult to understand the whole plot without understanding of the beginning.
At the same time, Welles creates more tremendous picture using not only the visual elements of the withes’ appearance, but also demonstrating their evil character and intentions. The dialogues are clear and precise. The audience can easily comprehend the main idea of the film. Thereby, the opening scene of Welles seems more interesting and picturesque.
Analyzing the opening scenes of the of Macbeth by Orson Welles and The Tragedy of Macbeth by Roman Polanski, it is possible to conclude that, although both directors used the same classic plot, they demonstrated Shakespeare’s idea in the different ways. Welles provides more precise and picturesque description of the evil side of the characters, while Polanski emphasizes their appearance, making film more shocking and bloody.
Macbeth. Ex. Prod. Orson Welles. US: Republic Pictures, 1948. DVD.
The Tragedy of Macbeth. Ex. Prod. Roman Polanski. US: Columbia Pictures. 1971. DVD.
The downfall of Macbeth Term Paper
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play written by the renowned English playwright William Shakespeare about a Scottish general who learns that he could become a king through a prophesy from three witches. The play falls under the tragedy genre as the protagonist Macbeth ends up facing death at the end of the story.
The tragedy was written in 1606 during the renaissance literary period, which ran form 1485-1625. The play was written during the reign of James I after the death of Queen Elizabeth 1. The time around which the play was written was also called the Elizabethan era. Macbeth is ambitious for power and his character deteriorates as he acquires and tries to maintain it leading to his downfall.
Macbeth comes across as a man of great character at the opening of the play. The king together with the people respects him because of his nobility and bravery. He is honored for his great contribution in the war by saving the life of the king’s son Malcolm. He tells his father about the courage of Macbeth, “This is the sergeant who like a good and hardy soldier fought ‘against my captivity.
Hail brave friend!” (Shakespeare 1. 2. 4-5). Malcolm is loved and his self-esteem is high, as he feels proud of serving his country. He is content with his position during this time until the three witches prophesy to him that he would become king.
The prophesy marks the turning point for Macbeth from a noble man to a greedy man consumed by ambition to become king and his character starts changing. He thinks about the prophesy and decides to leave it to chance but the more he thought about he knew he had to take an action. His wife urges him to take King Duncan out and portray his bravery as she accuses him of cowardice.
His conscience bothers him and he asks, “Will great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood/clean from my hand?” (Shakespeare 2. 2.58-59). Nonetheless, he goes on to murder the king and his character takes a turn for the worst as he kills the chamberlains who would give witness of the king’s death and he claims he killed them due to fury for their killing of King Duncan.
Banquo also knew about the witches’ prophesy and he could become a liability to him later. That means he had to deal with Banquo also to remain in power just as he had killed the chamberlains. He hires murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance as the witches had predicted that Banquo’s sons would inherit the thrown. ” …Now he will murder for no reason other than to habituate himself to the terrors of his corrupted state and make himself comfortable among them…” (Cunningham 295).
His character is deteriorating and killing has become so easy for him and he has lost his sense of morality. The more he kills the further he deteriorates and becomes violent because he does not gain the security he intends from the murders. He also plans to kill Macduff in order to keep his throne “I am in blood/stepped in so far that, should I wade no more/returning were as tedious as go o’er” (Shakespeare 3.4.153-137).
The life of Macbeth takes a different turn from act four as he decided to consult the witches to know his fate and people planning to overthrow him. He seems to be on road to self-destruction and nothing will save him from the cruel man he has become. Moreover, he drops deeper into darkness when he orders the killing of Macduff’s wife and children yet they are not a political threat to him.
He says of Macduff’s family “Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o’ the sword /His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls/That trace him in his line (Shakespeare 4.1.131-135). His character also deteriorates when the witches tell him that he no man born of woman can kill him thus think he is invincible.
He boasts and says that he will defeat the enemy but his end is evitable as Malcolm and his fighters advance to Macbeth’s castle. Macbeth comforts himself and says, “I cannot taint with fear. What’s the boy Malcolm? Was he not born of woman? The spirits that know. All mortal consequences have pronounced me thus: ‘Fear not, Macbeth; no man that’s born of woman Shall e’er have power upon thee” (Shakespeare 5.3.3-7). However, he is killed bringing an end to his tyrannical rule and a new beginning for Scotland.
Macbeth faces his death because he allows ambition change him from a noble man to a vicious monster. His character deteriorates from the time he agrees to commit his first murder of king Duncan and is forced to kill many other power in order to hold on to power that he acquired illegitimately that eventually leads to his disintegration.
Cunningham, Dolora G. “Macbeth: The Tragedy of the Hardened Heart.” Shakespeare Quarterly, 14.1 (winter1963): 39-47. Reprinted in Shakespearean Criticism. Vol.69.Ed. Lynn M.Lott.Detroit: Gale, 2003.293-298
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. n.d. Web. http://shakespeare.mit.edu/macbeth/full.html
Philosophy of Literature: Shakespearean Tragedy Essay
Most people will agree that there is no better way to express emotions than through poems and plays. In fact, the best ridicules, satires and ironies are expressed through writing that does not attack their victims directly.
The finest humour is also expressed through writing and this explains why most comic movies must be scripted before being staged (Feagin 102). Othello is a true reflection of the above accounts on how tragic incidences make heroes to be villains as discussed in this essay.
McGinn is persuaded that all plays written by Shakespeare have tragedies punctuated by death (McGinn 188). This becomes a resemblance factor in almost all Shakespeare’s plays. For instance, Macbeth and Othello have many occasions where death occurs either as planned or due to natural interventions. The above plays are named after the protagonists in them and coincidentally they both meet tragic ends.
Othello dies unexpectedly when he thinks he is almost conquering his emotions while Macbeth dies as soon as he ascends to the throne of power. In addition, almost all members of their families die shortly after or before the protagonist dies.
These expressions enable readers to realise that all human beings are mortal despite their wealth, fame or power (McGinn 188). Ironically, these deaths are caused by the victims since they contribute knowingly or unknowingly to its occurrence.
McGinn claims that the protagonists have a weak character that makes their life miserable at the end of the story. Othello is depicted as a racial and envious person despite his commitment and hard work. These weaknesses are to blame for the misfortunes that befall him later in the play. Therefore, a mismatch arises here when he tries to be modest yet his emotions betray him.
At last he is not able to hide it and decides to kill his girlfriend. These situations make it easy to predict the outcome of events; for instance, Othello’s envy makes the audience to expect him to do something bad to any person who tries to snatch his lover.
These plays influenced by human desires to do what their minds tell them rather than what is good for their societies. There is no doubt that the lead character is out to accumulate as much wealth, fame and power as possible to protect his interests.
Othello, just like Macbeth, is a selfish character who wishes to be the only one recognised by the society. People have always excelled in various activities but due to selfish interests their fame and wealth have drastically dwindled (McGinn 92). It is evident that self interest overrides all other moral personalities in individuals.
Even though, human beings know what they are supposed to do they seldom consider this option when confronted with various challenges in life. In Othello, the commander appoints incompetent people to head various sections like when Cassio is appointed to the litigant’s position (Hume 48). Despite his young age the commander considers this young man suitable for this job.
Even though, there is no direct relationship between these two it is evident that the young man is inexperienced and unprepared to manage this office. Moreover, the lead character in this play has defied all odds and created his conveniences despite moral and religious regulations. He defies traditions and marries a young lady despite pressure from the girl’s father that the two should never get married.
Today, people, especially youths, think that they know more than their parents and do what they please rather than what should be done. Finally, they fail to complete their studies, contract diseases and start engaging in drug abuse.
They lead miserable lives due to their unplanned actions during their teenage years. This is always a path of destruction that invites young men and women without warning them about the consequences of their actions.
Betrayal is a common occurrence in normal lives and this play offers an excellent description of this case. Lago wants to make the Duke to pay for his negligence and persuades Roderigo to inform Brabantio that his daughter is married to the commander knowing very well the father never recognised their relationship (Hume 48).
This is an illustration of how people get involved in things that are not of importance to them. In addition, it is also an indication of the facts that human beings are always nosy and ready to participate in other people’s issues.
It should be understood that Othello is a good commandant and his ready to go to war to defend his people just like Macbeth. However, he is an opportunist who takes advantage of all circumstances to benefit him without considering what others will experience (Feagin 77).
There is a close similarity between Othello and Macbeth since they are destroyed by their selfish ambitions and blind courage. A king does not ease himself in the bush since he will be exposing his nakedness to the whole world. This saying is respected by neither Othello nor Macbeth and this leads to their failures.
Moreover, people always pretend to be good despite the truth that they know each other and understand their weaknesses. In most cases, main characters are usually brought down by the same people they have trusted many years. Othello thinks Desdemona is unfaithful since she is social and outgoing.
This becomes a burning issue whenever they confront each other and she is finally killed on claims that she is unfaithful. In both Macbeth and Othello suicide is inevitable since the main characters are confronted with tough situations.
Othello feels guilty for killing his girlfriend and later feels remorseful about his actions (Feagin 76). However, it is necessary to note that this action is motivated by selfish interests that override reasoning. His attempts to kill Lago become futile when the later overpowers him and instead kills his friend’s wife.
Craig argues that there are some metaphysical forces that cannot be overcome by human beings in trying to make life better (Craig 51). His illustration of the forces that drive Macbeth to desire to see his husband is strongly motivated by selfish interest rather than emotions. In Othello, similar illustrations occur when Othello is ordered to go to the sea to fight the invaders.
This was going to be one of his toughest assignments had it not been for the Duke commanding that he goes with Desdemona (Craig 57). The pair is lucky that the invaders changed their minds or were defeated by other people. They take this opportunity to bond oblivious of the danger facing them; however, selfish interests drive the pair to destruction at the end of the play.
In addition, Craig claims that fear and hope play significant role sin determining an individual’s behaviour. Macbeth was a good soldier but as soon as the witches told him of the expected response after winning the battle his reasoning came to a stand still.
He started dreaming that one day he would be the king of Scotland and had the high hopes that he would attain this status (Craig 64). After confiding this information to his wife he was advised to kill his perceived competitors to eliminate opposition.
This was the beginning of hopes covered with fear and resulted in various misfortunes. In fact, his hopes and fears are to blame for exposing his weaknesses and leading to tragic deaths in the play.
Craig, L. H. Of Philosophers and Kings. Political Philosophy in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and King Lear. London: University of Toronto Press, 2001. Print.
Feagin, Susan. “The Pleasure of Tragedy.” American Philosophical Quarterly 20 Apr. 1983: 95-104. Print.
Hume, David. 1742. “Of Tragedy” in Essays, Moral, Political, and Literary. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987. Print.
McGinn, Collin: Shakespeare’s Philosophy: Discovering the Meaning behind the Plays. New York: Harper Collins, 2007. Print.
Shakspeare Tragedies: Macbeth and King Lear Essay
William Shakespeare is now regarded as one of the most celebrated playwrights in the history of world literature. Even during his lifetime, his dramatic works enjoyed enormous popularity among a great number of people. Nowadays, many of them form an important part of the literature curriculum in schools or colleges. Among his numerous plays, one can undoubtedly distinguish his tragedies such as Macbeth or King Lear.
Although these tragedies profoundly different in terms of plot or theme, they have a common element. In particular, they depict the life of characters, who can commit immoral or even atrocious acts, but still, deserve readers’ compassion or at least pity. This is the main thesis that should be elaborated in greater detail.
In his tragedy Macbeth, Shakespeare depicts the titular character, who starts as a fundamentally decent person; yet, he has a crucial moral flaw that eventually leads this person to his downfall. For instance, Macbeth is famous for his bravery and integrity. To some degree, he can be perceived as a role model by other people. However, at the same time, one should speak about his enormous will to power.
This is the main internal conflict attracts readers’ attention. His moral flaw is exploited by his ruthless and amoral wife, whose manipulations prompt Macbeth to murder the king and his best friend. Apart from that, one should not forget about innocent bystanders such as Macduff’s family.
Eventually, Lady Macbeth dies shortly after realizing the enormity of atrocities that she and her husband perpetrated. Similarly, Macbeth dies at the hands of Macduff, the same man whose family he murdered. Shakespeare makes this character pitiable, and this is one of the major goals that the author tried to achieve.
In turn, King Lear can be viewed as a sympathetic individual. However, he commits a significant error in his ethical evaluation of other people, especially his daughters. At the beginning of the play, he decides to abdicate his throne and divide his kingdom among his three daughters.
However, he makes them declare their love for him. His two daughters, Goneril and Regan, readily follow his wish, while his youngest and favorite daughter, Cordelia, refuses to make this superfluous promise. This behavior is misconstrued by her father as a sign of ingratitude or disloyalty.
Moreover, he disowns and disinherits her. The main issue is that unlike her sisters, Cordelia always remains dedicated to Lear. The main character eventually appreciates Cordelia’s love, but his understanding comes too late. More importantly, his mistake results in the death of many innocent people. These are the main reason why King Lear is such a tragic figure.
In both these tragedies, the titular characters are shown to have fatal flaws that bring them to ruin, even despite decent dispositions. For example, Macbeth is first introduced as a brave, upstanding man valued by King Duncan as one of his trusted generals. However, his encounter with the witches sets the fatal chain of events in motion. In particular, their prophecies about Macbeth’s future glory tempt him and awaken his will to power (Frye 249).
In her turn, Lady Macbeth also prompts her husband to fulfill his ambition. She urges him to take the crucial step of murdering Duncan and usurping the throne. This choice eventually undermines the ethical integrity of this character, and he murders murder to secure his power.
Eventually, Macbeth realizes that he has turned into a monster; he understands that his actions are beyond redemption. To a great extent, the death at the hands of Macduff comes as a relief to him (Bevington 20). This is why readers cannot reject Macbeth as a completely contemptible figure.
In contrast, King Lear is far less villainous than Macbeth, and one can say that this character is much more pitiable than Macbeth. To a certain degree, his behavior can be explained by his search for a motherly figure (Kahn 33). He does not understand that his daughters cannot play this role. Much attention should be paid to his petty urge for validation and acceptance because this urge results in his highly questionable judgments of character.
Moreover, one should speak about the banishment of his genuinely loving daughter Cordelia. Apart from that, he is unable to understand that superficial promises should not be taken for granted. This is why he almost unthinkingly rewards Goneril and Regan for their alleged devotion to him.
However, the suffering that he undergoes redeems this character (Reibetanz 10). Moreover, he eventually becomes aware of his mistakes. This is one of the details that should be considered.
In Macbeth and King Lear, Shakespeare does not shy away from describing people who can commit immoral actions. However, at the same time, his works emphasize the idea that these characters are driven by complex motives.
Their immoral actions cannot be explained only by malevolence and villainy. Macbeth and King Lear can take morally reprehensible actions, but the audience can sympathize with them. This is one of the qualities that distinguish Shakespeare among many other authors.
Bevington, David. Four Tragedies. New York, Bantam,1988. Print.
Frye, Roland M. “Launching the Tragedy of Macbeth: Temptation, Deliberation, and Consent in Act I”. The Huntington Library Quarterly 50.3 (1987): 249–261. Print.
Kahn, Coppèlia. “The Absent Mother in King Lear”. Rewriting the Renaissance: The Discourses of Sexual Difference in Early Modern Europe. Ed. Margaret Ferguson, Maureen Quilligan, and Nancy Vickers. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986. 33-36 Print.
Reibetanz, John. The Lear world : a study of King Lear in its dramatic context. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977. Print.
Power and Evocation of Horror: The Macbeth Witches’ Chant Essay
The witches’ chant in Macbeth is powerful poetry and powerful drama. It derives its power from several features. Among them are the rhymes, the rhythm of the words, the interpolation of a chorus, the increasing complexity of the lines as the poem progresses, and the vivid and horrifying imagery. Shakespeare may have had many aims in this play, some of them as deep as the Protestant/Catholic conflict that was roiling in Elizabethan England, but this particular piece of poetry stands on its own, apart from its historical context.
The most striking characteristic of the poem upon first reading is the rhyming. As Clugson points out, most of the personae of the play speak their parts in blank verse for most of the time (Clugston, 2010). The appearance of these definite, assertive, unsubtle rhymes in the midst of the heroic declamation sets it apart instantly.
The character of the rhymes is heavily constrained. Each line taps out a “four-beatrhythm”(Wilson, 2002, p. 126). Wilson describes the result as a “‘drumming insistence’ with a musical effect which is irresistibly conspiratorial, ‘hovering between a ritual and a threat’” (Wilson, 2002, p. 126). This wonderful description captures the feeling of a dance that this poem has evoked for many young people, even if they did not know what issues or events the play addresses.
These lines are largely monosyllabic, a feature which, as Kranz notes, makes the iambic pentameter very obvious (Kranz, 2003, p. 346), almost a caricature of itself. The words that Shakespeare chooses for these lines also display what Kranz accurately describes as “fricative alliteration” (Kranz, 2003, p. 346). This gives the poem a hissing sound, which reinforces the nearly inhuman nature of the speakers and the spectral activities they pursue. A poem of equivalent power in using rhythm might be Vachel Lindsay’s The Congo(Lindsay, 1917).
The chorus lines demarcate the verses, providing a welcome relief from the insistence of the ingredients list. The chorus also includes all the participants, transforming the poem from a recitation to an incantation, a shared, almost sacramental activity. This pattern is very reminiscent of the versicles/responses in the Christian mass, or the call-and-response of African music.
In light of Wilson’s contention that the witches symbolized the Elizabethans’ suppressed and rebellious Catholic gentry (Wilson, 2002, p. 129), the chorus also seems more than a rhythmic change of pace. The altered rhythm makes the lines around the chorus stand out in greater relief.
The imagery is where the poem really packs a massive punch. Shakespeare has assembled a collection of ghastly items that retain their power to shock and make us squeamish. This is true even in an era when the reader is quite likely to have a poison tree frog or an endangered tiger on their t-shirt.
Shakespeare manages this by selecting animals that are not our cuddly barnyard friends. These creatures mostly hail from other taxonomic groups and distinctly different modes of life. There are examples of reptiles (adder, blindworm, snake, and lizard), amphibians (newts, toads, and frog), nocturnal mammals (bat), nocturnal birds (owl, or howlet), notochord (shark), and mythical (dragon).
The cat appears as a herald of mischief, and the dog appears in the form of its tongue. This latter is one of the most alien body parts of man’s best friend; dogs, after all, only sweat through their tongues. The goat, perhaps the least sympathetic of domestic animals, is represented by its gall, a bitter and mysterious organ.
The reader moves from the more revolting portions of the animal kingdom to the misfits of the human world. The poem lists the offal of the witch, Jew, Tartar and Turk, all despised groups. Jews were discriminated against severely (Campos, 2002), scapegoated even more severely than Catholics (who were in active, violent rebellion (Wilson, 2002, p. 139), and ghettoized.
The Tartars were a name to evoke terror, for their ravages, all over Europe. The Turks had threatened Europeans in the Holy Land for centuries. These choices by Shakespeare for his poem, then, were among the most frightening boogeymen of Elizabethan England. Witches were another emerging fear, in an era of religious conflict.
The most disturbing image – that of the body parts of a poor, demoralized girl’s roadside infanticide being used in witches’ potions – is distressing on many levels. Just in this one image, the reader is reminded of the issue of sexual exploitation of women (Why is the girl pregnant out of wedlock in the first place?), class oppression (If the father was of the same social class, why did they not simply get married?
If the father is of a different social class, what gave him the right to victimize?), hypocrisy in attitudes about sexual behavior (Would a wealthy girl be consigned to this position?). Thus, Shakespeare caps off a gallery of horrors.
These imagesmake readers and viewers think of all the things that made people shudder and cringe, from slimy or predatory animals to the Elizabethan world’s version of terrorists. Shakespeare has woven together rhymes that pound, a rhythm that evokes the slow, foreboding dance of the witches, a chorus that brings everyone into the action, and images that retain their power to disturb after all these centuries. I am struck by all, but especially by his deeply upsetting imagery.
Campos, E. V. ( 2002, Fall). Jews, Spaniards, and Portingales: Ambiguous Identities of Portuguese Marranos in Elizabethan England. Englis Literary History, 69(3), 599-616. doi:E-ISSN:1080-6547.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into Literature. NY: Bridgepoint.
Kranz, D. (2003, Summer). Sounds of Supernatural Soliciting in Macbeth. Studies in Philology, 100(3). Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/4174762?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Lindsay, V. (1917). The Congo. In H. Monroe (Ed.), The New Poetry: An Anthology. Retrieved from https://www.bartleby.com/265/193.html
Wilson, R. (2002). The Pilot’s Thumb: Macbeth and the Jesuits. In T. L. Stories, & R. Poole (Ed.), The Lancashire Witches (pp. 126-145). Manchester: Manchester Universiity Press.
Macbeth Versions Comparison Film Analysis Essay
Macbeth is one of the exciting plays of Shakespeare that deal with tragedies such as murder, violence, and witchcraft. Several artists such as Roman Polanski and Geoffrey Wright have produced different versions of Macbeth, but they have tried to retain its originality. In their versions, the artists have tried to present the originality of the play by using various perspectives to explain the play to the audience.
Owing to the similarities between these two versions of Macbeth, the essay compares the Roman Polanski’s version of Macbeth (1971) with the Geoffrey Wright’s version of the adaptation (2007) by examining how they deal with the theme of violence using murderous activities, witchcrafts, greed for power, and cast.
Murder is a common theme in the two films. Roman Polanski’s version of the Macbeth retells a play that involves a lord, who ascends to power after the actions of treachery, murder, and involvement with supernatural forces. The players that Polanski employs include Annis Francesca, who takes the part of a lady-Macbeth, and Jon Finch, who acts as Macbeth.
The film brings to the fore the story of a highland lord who murders the King out of greed and love for power. In the film, Polanski presents the issue of murder as used in various parts of the film. From the start, the film is full of murderous activities, which involve Macbeth and his soldiers. Polanski commences the film with a conspiracy of the lord’s wife, who kills the King. Leggatt (2006) argues that the acts of murder include the killing of the King, soldiers, and bodyguards, as well as the family of the King.
The film done by Wright illustrates the theme of violence by portraying various acts of murder that dominate the play. Wright portrays murderous acts because the soldiers kill and terminate everyone, who opposes the leadership of Macbeth. Wright strives to retain the original version of the play. The use of classic settings in the design of the play helps in portraying the role that gangsters play in the original play of Macbeth and helps present it in the modern world (Shakespeare 2009).
Therefore, Wright applies modern locations such as Melbourne to exhibit murder, as used by Macbeth in the contemporary world, and tries to ensure that it is in tandem with the original version. From the versions of films done by Wright and Polanski, it is evident that both films exhibit the theme of violence using acts of murder that dominate the play. The aim of the warring groups in the play is to create violence, which results in tragedy and murder.
Witchcraft is another form of violence that the two films present throughout the play. According to the film done by Polanski, witchcraft is one of the powers that the Lord of Scotland uses as a tool for protection and ascension to the throne. Leggatt (2006) explains that the main characters in the play include the lord of Scotland and his wife. The two use witchcraft to ascend to power after the murder of the King. Polanski tries to retain the original version of Macbeth as Shakespeare performed.
However, Polanski depicts the original witchcraft and adds some of his personal innovations used to make the film more appealing and exciting to the audience. The additions made by Polanski are instrumental in expressing the acts of witchcraft in a practical way to enhance understanding among modern viewers.
Thus, Polanski shares the concept of witchcraft using a modern set up and contemporary era to appeal to the modern audience. In addition, the innovations used by Polanski in expressing the role of witchcraft as a tool for fulfilling violent desires make the play more appealing and interesting.
Wright exhibits the concept of witchcraft as a tool used to manipulate and protect Macbeth and her husband from the avengers and loyalists of the King they murdered. Wright uses three students, who pose as witches, and adds some of the modern performances to make the film more exciting for the modern viewers. Notably, Wright retains the original role of the witches as designed by Shakespeare that includes protection and manipulation of individuals.
In addition, the use of witchcraft as a tool of overseeing future events brings the originality of Macbeth in Wright’s film (Shakespeare 2009). Thus, Wright presents the role of witchcraft in the achievement of violent desires of Macbeth from a different perspective but retains the original concept of Shakespeare.
Greed for Power
The greed for power is a source of violence that both films exhibit. Both Polanski and Wright demonstrate the concept of greed for power in their films while attempting to keep the original concept of Macbeth by Shakespeare. Like Wright, Polanski explains that greed for power and kingship led to atrocities like murder and witchcraft. Polanski presents the fact that individuals can only achieve leadership and power through hard work and from the Almighty, but not from wars and murder.
After a foul prophecy from the witches, Macbeth’s greed resulted in the murder of the King and his loyalists (Shakespeare 2009). Although Polanski exhibits this concept of greed for power in a new and different perspective, the message relayed is still the original message intended by the author of the play, Shakespeare. Polanski argues that some of the present individuals, who have greed for power, engage in violent acts as demonstrated by Wright.
Wright presents the need for power and greed in Macbeth in his film using elements of the modern world. Some of the elements that Wright uses to make the play interesting and practical in the modern world include the use of modern characters and present scenes. According to Rowe (2011), the lord of Scotland, just like any other person, is greedy for power and wants to take over the throne.
Wright explains in the play that the egocentric nature of Macbeth and greed for power causes the atrocities that result in the deaths of many people. Due to his excessive desire for power, especially after the prophecy of the witches, Macbeth and his wife start to engage in several violent acts that cause the death of the King. Wright retains the originality of Macbeth and works hard to convey the message of Shakespeare that too much ambition and greed destroys a person and initiates violence.
Polanski expresses the themes of violence in the film of Macbeth through a set of realistic, gritty, and captivating features. From the play of Macbeth, it is evident that Polanski designs the play and permits some of the emotions from the death of his wife to prevail in the film. As a result, many events in the film are full of horrific and thrilling activities from Macbeth and his wife (Holland 2008).
Polanski depicts lady-Macbeth as a beautiful and cunning woman, who uses her prowess to deceive her husband into committing several violent activities. Polanski uses the past craggy coast of Scotland to create some kind of originality on the concept of Shakespeare. Moreover, to maintain the real nature of Macbeth, Polanski employs believable scenes of fights, which present the violent activities that transpired in the original play of Shakespeare.
Wright just like Polanski preserves the original English language in his film, although he includes a few alterations to make the play interesting and instrumental to the contemporary audience. The choice of stage acts makes the play more understandable to the present viewers, and as a result, it becomes more interesting and exciting than the former play by Shakespeare (Leggatt 2006). The captivating and original nature of the film is evident through the application of elements like voice controls, location, and characters.
A combination of these elements makes up a setting that depicts the original concept of Macbeth as pioneered by Shakespeare. The presentation of violent acts on the stage makes the film horrific and terrifying, just like that of Polanski. Hence, Wright uses this combination creatively to exhibit the violent activities that Macbeth performed due to the unending greed for power and leadership.
Macbeth is a play pioneered by Shakespeare, which exhibits tragic murder and the use of supernatural forces. In the play, Macbeth and his wife engage in several violent activities like killing the King of Scotland due to their greed for power. Polanski and Wright are some of the individuals that have produced the play of Macbeth in an attempt to retell the events, which transpired during the play.
Although their films happen in different periods, Roman Polanski and Geoffrey Wright present a theme of violence using various acts of murder, witchcraft, greed, and cast in the play. Although there is a difference in the presentation of these themes, Polanski and Wright try to retain the original concepts that are in the original excerpt of Shakespeare’s play.
Holland, P. 2008, Shakespeare Survey: Macbeth and Its Afterlife, Cancage Learning, New York.
Leggatt, A. 2006, William Shakespeare’s Macbeth: A Sourcebook, Taylor & Francis, New York.
Rowe, K. 2011, Macbeth: Evans Shakespeare Editions, Cengage Learning, London.
Shakespeare, W. 2009, The Tragedy of Macbeth, Aquitaine Media Corp, Chicago.
Unchecked Ambition in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” Research Paper
Throughout human history, people tend to be corrupted by taking determinations beyond their limits. In his book “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Alexandre Dumas asserts that “…virtues are good, but some virtues tend to become crimes if taken to the extreme” (Meyer 124). The meaning of this phrase is that humans tend to be corrupted by extreme or unchecked ambition.
According to Stuntz (443), the term ‘unchecked ambition’ refers to the excessive, extreme or uncontrollable desire for success, power or wealth.it is the hunger or greediness for achieving more than what someone has. According to Mahatma Gandhi, there are two kinds of power- power based on the fear of punishment and power based on love (Low and Cheng 244). The power based on an act of love is effective and permanent, while the power based on the fear of punishment is transient and ineffective (Cohn 51).
Humans tend to develop unchecked ambition because they have power based on the fear of being punished. This seems to be the main theme in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
Throughout the play, Macbeth, a war hero, develops power based on the fear of being punished, which leads to unchecked ambition. Arguably, Macbeth’s justification of war is the desire for victory, which makes him appear a brave and dedicated soldier in the eyes of people like Duncan, but his ambition for more political power and success drives him towards destruction of the kingdom.
Macbeth is a decorated war hero, a Scottish soldier in the royal army. He achieves the title of a general in the army, but he is naturally not inclined to commit evils against people. He seems to be committed to his work in the military. However, he has a strong desire for advancing his powers and achievements.
It is clear that Macbeth’s desires for higher achievements are not a product of his natural character. The three witches who meet and give him the prophecy of becoming a king one day instill fear in him. After realizing that most of the things predicted by the three witches were real, he develops the fear of failing to fulfill the prophecy.
He is also afraid of the failure to do what the witches have predicted. At this point, it becomes evident that the society, in general, has both evil and good individuals, but the power of the evil individuals is responsible for corruption the good morals in people (Cohn 56). Therefore, the three witches instill fear, which drives Macbeth towards acting against his morals. He develops power based on fear, which amounts to unchecked ambitions.
Secondly, Macbeth’s wife contributes to the husband’s development of power based on fear. She realizes that Macbeth is living in fear of being punished if he fails to fulfill the prophecy of the three witches. Also, she realizes that it is difficult for Macbeth to wait until society crowns him as the king. Therefore, she takes advantage of the husband’s state of fear to convince him to take action against his morals.
Due to the fear of being punished, Macbeth’s develops the desire to achieve the predicted status. His fear should be understood from the context of its origin. It is clear that Macbeth, despite being a dedicated, brave, and fearless soldier, he has a major weakness- he is easily convinced. For instance, when he met the three witches, he was returning from a victorious battle, accompanied by Banquo. Both men are given prophecies.
Apart from informing Macbeth that he would be the king, the three witches also hail him as the thane of Glamis and “Cawdor,” yet he was not the Cawdor at the time. Also, the three witches tell Banquo that his children will be the future kings. While Banquo is less convinced by these prophesies, Macbeth seems to believe in every world of the witches.
Banquo warns him that “witches always tell half-truths.” Banquo seems morally stronger than Macbeth. He does not develop fear and seems to be logical. Although the witches’ prophesy of Macbeth becoming the “Cawdor” was fulfilled within a few minutes after meeting the witches, Macbeth and Banquo develop different attitudes towards the witches.
While Macbeth seems to be convinced after Ross and Angus deliver him the promotion message from King Duncan, Banquo seems to be cautious with the witches’ message. He tells Macbeth that the evils will always tell half-truths to “win over humans.” On the other hand, Macbeth’s good character and morals are under the threat of the evils of the three witches.
Macbeth ignores Banquo’s warning and starts a long journey of a fearful character. Towards the end of Act 1 scene 3, the audience is introduced to Macbeth’s changing self. He ignores the companionship of fellow soldiers Banquo, Ross, and Angus, opting to speak to himself. The audience observes Macbeth wondering whether his rein will survive or will simply fall. At this point, it is evident that Macbeth’s good morals and character are on their way towards destruction by the evils perpetrated by the three witches.
In act 4, scene 1, the audience is introduced to the relationship between the king and his generals, especially Macbeth. It is clear that the relationship between the two is good and relatively strong. For instance, the king decides to dine at Macbeth’s home. At this point, the scenes and conversation during the dinner reveal that Macbeth has almost forgotten the messages of the witches. For example, he is happy when King Duncan informs them of his decision to make his son Malcolm the king after his death.
However, in Act 1, scenes 1 to 4, the audience is introduced to Macbeth’s increasing fear and the developing desire to be the king. After the Duncan says that his wish is to make Malcolm the new king, Macbeth realizes that he stands no chance to become the king. His desire to achieve his dreams is strong. It appears that the desire to be the king overrides his loyalty to the king and the nation.
Despite having a good relationship with the king and his family, Macbeth realizes that his desire to be the king cannot be achieved because Malcolm stands between him and kingship. Shakespeare uses these scenes to describe the reawakening of the witches’ influence on Macbeth and the progressive development of fear and the desire to overcome it through taking a step to ensure that Malcolm is not made the king (Ramsey 285).
As these scenes progress, it becomes evident that Macbeth has even started thinking of a conspiracy to satisfy his desires. He realizes that there is no other way to fulfill the prophecy except using force to remove the current king from the throne and preventing Malcolm from ascending the throne. Despite being a morally straight soldier, Macbeth allows the desire to drive his thoughts.
The audience is introduced to the dilemma facing Macbeth. Macbeth’s reaction to the prophecy seems to be a fundamental point of dilemma. He is confused and inactivated. He has two options.
The first option is to ignore the witches’ prophecy and remain faithful to the king. However, taking this option would have resulted in a possible punishment by the gods or evils that had sent the three witches. Macbeth’s second option is to take the evil action of murdering the king and please the gods and their agents. However, taking this option would result in sin and corrupt of his morals.
Nevertheless, the most important force in determining Macbeth’s choice is the strong desire of being the king. He has already developed a belief that he will soon be the king. He even starts thinking about how he will do become a strong and successive king. The ambition is too strong that it overrides the good morals in Macbeth (Ciobanu 37). Therefore, he resolves to kill the king and assume power.
Uncontrolled ambition is not only seen in Macbeth’s character. His wife is a significant person in his life. Once Macbeth informs her of the witches’ message, she immediately develops a strong desire to be the queen. She appears to be a wicked individual. Some scholars have argued that Shakespeare must have used Lady Macbeth and the three witches to show how women are easily used by the evil spirits to execute their evil deeds on earth (Cohn 54).
It is evident that the ambition to be the next queen makes Lady Macbeth forgets the good relationship between them and the King’s family. She also forgets how King Duncan has regarded Macbeth and his family. Also, she fails to consider the reaction of the other soldiers when Macbeth goes on to kill the king (Ramsey 288).
Her desire is only to be the queen, regardless of the consequences of the husband’s action. In fact, unlike Macbeth, she does not experience a dilemma because she seems not to have an alternative thought. The only option available for her is to convince Macbeth that the only way to become the king is to kill Duncan.
The strong ambition to achieve the dream of being the king further overrides the warming Macbeth receives in a dream. Shakespeare uses this dream to show the possible outcomes of Macbeth’s action. In a dream, Macbeth has a vision of a bloody dagger. It is an indication that killing the king will not be the end of a bloody scene (Cohn 58). Macbeth ignored this warning, especially because his wife’s desire to be the queen seems to be stronger than his ambitions.
It is also worth noting that once a good individual is driven by the uncontrolled ambition to take an evil act, a consequence of other evils will result as he or she attempts to justify the initial action.
In this case, Macbeth decides to kill other individuals to justify his action of killing the king. In the morning after he stabs King Duncan, Macbeth realizes that the only way to conceal the secret of his action is to kill any other individual who may have witnessed the action. Thus, the strong desire to be the king forces him to kill the king’s two chamberlains, believing that they were the remaining obstacles between him and the kingship.
Soon after becoming the King, Macbeth’s desire to remain the king forever forces him to do more evils. The effect of the witches is seen throughout the play. For instance, he remembered that the witches had predicted that Banquo’s sons and grandsons would be the future kings. This means that Macbeth’s reign and those of his sons are under the threat of Banquo’s descendants. Thus, he decides to eliminate his friend Banquo. This is a further indication of the growing ambitions in Macbeth.
Also, Macbeth develops a new desire- the desire to maintain his reign forever. He resolves to seek guidance from the witches and other evils spirits. The consequences are serial murders as Macbeth kills anybody he thinks will become the king in the future.
Thus, it is clear that Macbeth’s good character has been destroyed by his desire to achieve more than what he already has. Macbeth’s actions confirm Alexandre Dumas’ assertion that “…virtues are good, but some virtues tend to become crimes if taken to the extreme” (Meyer 124). Thus, Macbeth’s justification of war is the desire for victory, which makes him appear a brave and dedicated soldier in the eyes of people like Duncan, but his ambition for more political power and success drives him towards destruction of the kingdom.
Ciobanu, Elena. ““Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair”: the poetics of evil in Macbeth by William Shakespeare.” Interstudia (Revista Centrului Interdisciplinar de Studiu al Formelor Discursive Contemporane Interstud) 9 (2011): 26-24. Print.
Cohn, Ruby. “Shakespeare Left.” Theatre Journal 3.2 (2005): 48-60. Print
Low, Patrick and Kim Cheng. “Leading, the Mahatma Gandhi Way.” Leadership & Organizational Management Journal 2010.2 (2010): 237-249. Print
Meyer, Linda Ross. “The new revenge and the old retribution: Insights from Monte Cristo.” Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 31 (2003): 119-142. Print
Ramsey, Jarold. “The Perversion of Manliness in Macbeth.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 (1973): 285-300. Print
Stuntz, William J. “Virtues and Vices of the Exclusionary Rule”. Harv. JL & Pub. Pol’y 20 (2006): 443. Print.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Dramatic Irony Essay
Use of dramatic irony
Dramatic irony occurs when the audience has more information than the characters. Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to amuse the audience and to show the level of deception developed by the main character.
In Act, I, Scene III, the first instance of dramatic irony occurs when the three witches appear, and they greet Macbeth and Banquo. The witches address Macbeth as Thane of Cawdor, which Macbeth takes to be a prophecy (Shakespeare 7). However, the audience knows that King Duncan has given orders to Ross to have Cawdor placed under Macbeth’s control, as a reward for winning the battle.
Another incidence of dramatic irony occurs when King Duncan gives a pleasant speech about his host, not knowing they plan to assassinate him (Shakespeare 14).
Dramatic irony occurs when Macbeth and the lords await the arrival of Banquo. Macbeth already has information about his murder. The audience is aware of Macbeth’s actions, but the characters are deceived. Macbeth says, “I drink to the general joy o’ the whole table, and to our friend Banquo, whom we miss, would he were here, I to all, and him, we thirst” (Shakespeare 39). He expresses how he anticipates the arrival of Banquo when he has been told by the first murderer about his death.
Another instance of dramatic irony is when Macbeth speaks to Banquo’s ghost, and the guests consider him a disturbed man. They claim he needs to be left alone. The characters are not aware, as much as the audience, that Banquo’s ghost is in their midst (Shakespeare 38).
The audience is aware of Macbeth’s murders when the characters still consider him an honest man. There are other dramatic ironies in the play, such as the plot by the three witches and Hecate to deceive Macbeth. The dramatic ironies are used to emphasize the treacherous plots that the innocent-looking faces conceal. It also creates suspense that keeps the audience anticipating reaction when the truth is revealed.
The theme in Act V, Scene V
In Act V, Scene V, Shakespeare brings out the theme of ambition through Macbeth’s speech. He speaks about the brevity of life and anxiety during critical times. However, a major theme that fits the description is ambition. Tales of ambitious people are “full of sound and fury” (Shakespeare 65). Ross describes it as “Thriftless ambition, that wilt ravin up thine own life’s mean!” (Shakespeare 28). Ambition comes with a lot of energy, but it is short-lived.
Shakespeare develops the theme by the people he uses to talk about the future. He uses the three witches to forecast what is going to happen. The three witches have been used to tell the story of the brief life of Macbeth. They have made him more ambitious than they found him.
Shakespeare uses the porter to give the impression of what is likely to happen. The porter fits the description of a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury” (Shakespeare 65). The porter says, “Here’s a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty” (Shakespeare 22). The porter gives a clear picture of what is about to happen.
The tale of the ambitious that is told no more after their death includes that of the Thane of Cawdor. He had supported the king of Norway (Shakespeare 6). His story is told no more after his death. The death of Banquo is another example of an ambitious person with a brief life. In Act III, Scene I, Banquo had thoughts of assassinating Macbeth (Shakespeare 29). He becomes part of a tale told by an idiot. Lady Macbeth also forms part of the same tale, the tale of ambition.
Political legitimacy occurs when the king reigns because he deserves to reign. It includes overall acceptance by the people. Macbeth’s political legitimacy is based on deception. He creates the assumption that Donalbain and Malcolm killed their father, which is supported by their escape (Shakespeare 28). He kills King Duncan’s guards to prevent further investigation into the matter. He is named king based on the assumption that he is virtuous.
One of the characteristics associated with moral legitimacy is the ability to win the trust of friends. Malcolm’s questioning of Macduff shows that to be trusted by friends may grant the moral legitimacy of absolute power (Shakespeare 53). In the play, the lords have a strong influence on the person in power. Macbeth does not want to kill Banquo in the open because the lords will be upset. They may desert him.
Macbeth’s action, of killing anyone who differs with him, makes him a tyrant. How he carries the killings makes most of the people hate him. Duncan is seen as a good king. In the case of the Thane of Cawdor, he does not give commands to eliminate the entire family. Duncan rewards Macbeth for his bravery on the battlefield. He shows the characteristics of a good king. Duncan does not use deceit and can be trusted by the rich. On the other hand, Macbeth is a threat to anyone who has some influence on running the kingdom.
Macbeth describes Duncan as a king whose actions are transparent. He has nothing evil to hide. In Act, I, Scene VII, Macbeth says, “Besides, this Duncan hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office that his virtues will plead like angels” (Shakespeare 16). On the other hand, Macbeth has many deeds; he would not like people to know. They would not accept him as king if it were known.
In summary, deception and murder make Macbeth a tyrant. Macbeth follows no fundamental rules in his reign. On the other hand, Duncan conducts his actions in a transparent manner. He follows some fundamental rules in his reign.
Gender, power, and masculinity
Shakespeare has explored the issue of gender. In Act IV, Scene I, the second apparition tells Macbeth, “Be bloody, bold, and resolute; laugh to scorn, the power of a man” (Shakespeare 46). The apparition indicates that a powerful man should care the least of what people are saying about him.
He should be resolute and carry out his actions firmly. Aggression is another value that may be taken from the words “be bloody.” Macbeth takes the advice and executes anyone who appears suspicious. A powerful man has to be bold. Masculinity is expressed through boldness, aggression, and making firm decisions.
Soldiers are portrayed through their masculine roles. Macbeth refers to his servant as a soldier’s patch because he lacks bravery (Shakespeare 62). Ross applauds Young Siward for his death as a warrior. He claims that it is deserved. Ross describes that “he only lived till he was a man; The which no sooner had his prowess confirmed…” (Shakespeare 69). Young Siward confirmed his masculinity through his skills on the battlefield.
Shakespeare’s exploration of gender is seen in the conversation between the three witches. In Act, I, Scene III, the first witch asks, “Where hast thou been, sister?” (Shakespeare 6). The Second Witch answers, “Killing swine.” (Shakespeare 6). Shakespeare subverts the perception of gender by capturing the description of a woman who has been hunting. Hunting is associated with masculinity.
Another instance of subversion of gender occurs between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth in Act II, Scene II. Macbeth says, “I’ll go no more: I am afraid to think what I have done” (Shakespeare 21). Lady Macbeth takes the blades and lays them next to the king’s guards. Macbeth is afraid of going back into the room. Lady Macbeth appears bolder than Macbeth. Bravery is a major value that keeps reoccurring with masculinity.
Motifs are ideas that keep on reoccurring. In this analysis, “nature” as a motif is investigated. Shakespeare uses “nature” as a motif to distinguish between that which is good and that which is evil. Something may be bad, but also unnatural. He uses “nature” to give degrees to the evil deeds that people may choose. If it is unnatural, then it is also unusual.
In Act I, Scene II, when the sergeant speaks to Duncan, the first application of the word “nature” occurs. He refers to MacDonald as a person whose nature is to be rebellious. Shakespeare may have used the sergeant’s speech to create the mood for the expectation of rebellion. The sergeant claims, “The multiplying villainies of nature, do swarm upon him” (Shakespeare 5). It creates the mood of rebellion by referring to multiplying rebellion as natural. Rebellion is made to appear common for some people.
Nature has been used concerning sleep in Act II, Scene II. Macbeth refers to sleep as “balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourisher in life’s feast” (Shakespeare 21). Using nature as a value in sleep makes it be considered with utmost importance. The value of sleep is intensified. Shakespeare creates a mood that supports the theme of anxiety. Both Macbeth and his wife will be sleepless and restless when the play approaches a climax. Sleep’s grand importance is elaborated when Lady Macbeth sleepwalks.
Lady Macbeth refers to Macbeth’s condition like lack of natural sleep when he speaks to a ghost. Lady Macbeth says, “You lack the season of all natures, sleep” (Shakespeare 40).
Nature has been used by Macbeth in Act III, Scene IV. Macbeth refers to the ghost’s cheeks as having kept “the natural ruby” (Shakespeare 40). Shakespeare builds the mood of fear. Banquo’s nature is to be rebellious, even in his death.
In many instances, Shakespeare allows Macbeth to speak about nature. Macbeth is defiant against the three witches. He demands that they answer his questions about whether they can control nature. Macbeth orders, “Though the treasure of nature’s germen may tumble all together, even till destruction sicken; answer me to what I ask you” Shakespeare 45).
Shakespeare tries to show that Macbeth is the least delusional of all people, yet he perceives ghosts. The apparitions and the witches appear more tangible if they are perceived by Macbeth. Macbeth is the only character who meets with the unnatural creatures frequently.
Good literature is one which creates human behavior, things, and events in a manner that amuses the reader. Good literature is weighed by the stylistic devices that it applies and how they are arranged in the plot. An over-use of devices may not always be good because it may create ambiguity for the reader.
In drama, the stylistic devices add a lot of value. Shakespeare’s plays usually use humor and personification. In Macbeth, humor has not been applied to a great extent. Personification has been used as Shakespeare’s main stylistic device. An example of personification is Macduff’s speech, “Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny! Lay thou thy basis sure” (Shakespeare, 52). Giving life to values emphasizes the kind of action they generate in the people that possess them.
He uses foreshadowing by the three witches and flashback by Macbeth to capture the interest of the audience. Macbeth can be considered good literature because it creates a plot cast in far-fetched deception. Very few can expect that Macbeth will turn against the king as the play starts.
In poetry, imagery is the most important aspect that makes a poem a good piece of art. A good poem will be measured by how differently the poet describes the same picture from other poets. For example, “I Hear America Singing” by Walt Whitman allows the reader to create the images of the sound of the people at work. In line 2-3, “Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong” (Whitman par. 1).
Another example is John Keats’ “This Living Hand.” In the first two lines, he writes, “This living hand, now warm and capable, of earnest grasping, would if it were cold…” (Hirsch par. 2). Hirsch (par. 1) explains that he was able to feel the hand as he was reading the lines. Poetry is about the ability to make the reader form those images you describe. The reader should be amused at the similarities and the linkages that the poet creates from different things.
Hirsch, Edward. On John Keats’s “This Living Hand”. Web.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Web.
Whitman, Walt. I Hear America Singing. Web.
Shakespeare Literature: Prophecy and Macbeth Morality Essay
The major theme covered in Macbeth revolves around ambition and its impact when it is allowed to spur uncontrollable levels. Macbeth as a general turns to use evil means in his quest to attain power and reach his goals. The plot is further directed by the prophecies made by the witches. According to them, Macbeth is to become king as well as the Thane of Cawdor.
In addition, it is predicted that the descendants of Banquo will inherit his position coupled with the prophecy that warns Macbeth about Macduff (Bloom 11). The prophecies include a proclamation that the general is free from any harm directed to him by any man. In the play, the only prophecy that does not come to pass is about the children of Banquo becoming kings as the rest are fulfilled. However, there are questions about the method of interpreting the prophecies as they are expected to be handled as riddles.
The prophecies play a major role in the plot and theme in the story. This is due to the fact that Macbeth relies on the prophecies in making decisions. Macbeth is seen to be consultation with the witches even during the killing of Banquo. He justifies his actions saying “If chance will have me King, why, chance may crown me,/ Without my stir “( (Shakespeare 362). Moreover, the general ignores morality when Duncan is murdered. Macbeth resorts to using violence in order to avert or coincide with the prophecies put forward by the witches. Macbeth’s desire for power and prestige is therefore accelerated by the prophecies.
The divination made by the witches pushes Macbeth further into immorality as he is made to believe that he deserves the position of king. Therefore, the proclamation by Duncan that his son Malcolm is to succeed him causes Macbeth to sink further into evil. Lady Macbeth is also involved in the practice of violence and impunity when she supports Macbeth by urging him to commit the acts. For example, she emphasizes… I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you, Have done to this. (Shakespeare 371)
The murder of King Duncan affects morality in the story in a negative way as Macbeth works to actualize the prophecies. Additionally, Lady Macbeth helps Macbeth in overcoming grief and guilt to further perpetuate the wrongdoings. Macbeth tries to justify the morality of the act he is about to carry out. “First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the do ,Not bear the knife myself (Shakespeare 369).
Macbeth is thus portrayed as a victim of fate as his character and personality are greatly influenced by various factors. These include the prophecies made by the witches that push Macbeth to corrupt and evil activities. The character that has no regard for morality is heightened by the prophecy in that the friends as well as close relatives of Duncan are also killed.
The character thus gains an immoral status courtesy of the prophecies that are viewed as part of fate that drives the life of Macbeth. The presence of the prophesy leads to the implication that Macbeth loses autonomous control over his life. His behavior is directed by forces that seem to be beyond his control. The prophecies thus translate to greed, mistrust and sorrow for Macbeth and other characters in the plot.
It is apparent that prophecy has greatly affected morality in Macbeth. The divinations made about Macbeth becoming king result in multiple killings by Macbeth in the name of making them come to pass. In addition, Macbeth abandons reason and morality so as to make the predictions a fact. Therefore, Macbeth is portrayed as an immoral character developed and molded by factors that are external. These are further reinforced by Lady Macbeth as she is noted to have backed the immoral acts committed by Macbeth.