Essay: Macbeth

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  • Subject area(s): English literature essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published on: July 16, 2019
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  • Number of pages: 2
  • Macbeth
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Macbeth is a tragedy by William Shakespeare; It dramatises the psychologically damaging effects of political ambition and greed on those who seek power for their own personal gain. In the play several writing techniques are exhibited to show the exaggerated rise and fall of Macbeth’s character and his actions that lead to the consequences. In the play Macbeth attributes his rise and fall to himself without any external forces or characters. This is evident despite the involvement of Lady Macbeth pushing him into becoming king forcefully. It starts with Macbeth’s first rise which can only be accredited to his character because of his own actions and achievements on the battlefields against the enemy Norwegian forces. The play then progresses to the beginning of his first fall when he meets the witches. Therefor his rise and fall were influenced and brought on by both internal and external forces and characters.

A vital part in Macbeth’s rise was Lady Macbeth. She manipulated Macbeth though many techniques like removing his ability to act and take control like a man would and became the dominant person in the relationship. She used this to manipulate him though mockery and suggesting he is a coward. She says “Wouldst thou have that that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life and live a coward in thine own esteem” (Act 1 Sc 7 Line 42 – 44) She says the crown is the ‘ornament of life’ and to attempt to your hardest to gain it is an act of cowardice. She says this in an almost dark overtone which gives the message a darkly forceful tone as though she is specifically manipulating Macbeth without a thought for him. In this way she has already completely moved past Macbeth and is only focusing on herself. Later on Macbeth asks what they should do if they fail, and in response she says, “We fail!, But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we’ll not fail”(I,vii, 73 – 76). In this quote she scorns Macbeth for thinking that they will fail, in doing so establishing her dominance over him again. When she says “screw your courage to the sticking-place” she is referring to the point at which he is the strongest. A modern interpretation of this could be “screw up your courage”, in the same way that it visualises the idea of securely fastening your courage to a secure place and by having this renewed courage you cannot fail. (88) A few lines after these quotes Macbeth says “Bring forth men-children only” (I,vii, 88) By saying this he is showing that her earlier words that he is not strong enough are not applicable any longer, in this way he is becoming more masculine like she said earlier “Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers” (I,v, 80 – 81) By saying this she is taking away her feminism and becoming more assertive and masculine.

Another vital external force in Macbeth’s both Rise and his Fall were the witches. They both planted the idea in Macbeth’s head to become king and later in the play received wisdom from their Mistress, Hecate, who is the goddess of magic, witchcraft, the night, moon, ghosts and necromancy and the person that the witches report to. They then gave Macbeth a false sense of security by making him believe that he is safe from those who plot against him. The witches say, “All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!” By hailing Macbeth they give him a sense of superiority over them and make him believe that he will be king from then on. In a certain sense the belief in witchcraft around those times contributed massively to the play, if this had been set in current times and this happened no-one would take the witches seriously but due to the high level of belief in witchcraft Macbeth considers what they say and this sows the seed. Hecate then says, when meeting with the witches, “In riddles and affairs of death, And I, the mistress of your charms…Was never call’d to bear my part,” (III,v, 4 – 8). In this quote Hecate is enraged at not being called by the witches to meddle with Macbeth and is annoyed that they acted under they’re own free will and not at her instruction. She is basically saying that she is all-powerful when it comes to death and how death comes about and that she is the true master at conducting other’s often untimely deaths.

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