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Essay: Macbeth

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 12 September 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 803 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 4 (approx)
  • Tags: Macbeth essays

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In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth it is believed that the universe and king were connected. Therefore, if the two were connected, when the king was killed the universe would respond with unnatural events. In this play, the unnatural events foreshadow evil. The unnatural occurrences in Macbeth predict the downfall of the kingdom and death of Macbeth; since the universe is connected with the king.
The people of the Elizabethan time period believed in the divine right of kings, which was the belief that the king was God’s chosen representative on earth who also spoke to God. Killing the king would bring disorder to the universe. An example of this disorder is when Macbeth kills Duncan. The day after the murder of Duncan, Ross and an old man have a discussion about the unnatural occurrences that have happened. In their discussion the old man says that last Tuesday, a hawk flying high in the air was attacked and killed by an owl hunting mice. A line from Ross and the old mans’ conversation: ‘Tis unnatural, Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place, Was by a mousing owl hawk at and killed (1).’
The second unnatural occurrence is when Duncan’s horses broke down their stalls. After breaking down their stalls, they run out. While free from captivity, not listening to anyone they then ate each other. Ross explains to the old man of the unnatural event: ‘And Duncan’s horses-a thing most strange and certain-Because and swift, the minions of their race, Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, Contending ‘gainst obedience, as they would make War with mankind (2).’
The belief of the divine right of kings is that the king and the universe are connected. If the King performs bad actions while he controls the kingdom, the universe will start to have disorder or also known in this situation as unnatural events. When Malcolm lists the talents in a king: ‘But I have none: the king-becoming graces, As justice, verity, temp’rence, stableness, Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude (3).’ Macbeth has only a few of the listed talents. This means that Macbeth is not fit to rule because while he is in control, the universe will continue to be in disorder.
After Macbeth murders Duncan, he begins to fear Banquo because of the witches’ prophecy, which is another unnatural event. The witches’ prophecy of Banquo: ‘Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none (4).’ This means that Banquo descendants will be kings but Banquo will not. Macbeth realizes that if Banquo’s descendants will be kings, his descendants would not. This realization drives Macbeth further to kill Banquo and Fleance. Macbeth also thinks that Banquo suspects him of having something to do with the murder of Duncan. Macbeth believes this because of Baquo’s ‘royalty of nature’. Macbeth explains his fear of Banquo: ‘Our fears in Banquo stick deep, And in his royalty of nature reigns that Which would be feared (5).’ After all previous unnatural events, Macbeth feels fear which drives him to do more evil actions to cover his past crimes.
At the banquet, Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost. Macbeth is frightened and yells: ‘Prithee, see there! Behold! Look! Lo! How saw you (6)’? Seeing Banquo’s ghost persuades Macbeth to return to the three witches for more information about his prophecy. They give him three more prophecies and after hearing them Macbeth is no longer in fear. The witches encouraged him to believe he is indestructible, ‘that no man born from a woman will harm him.’ After he leaves, he loathes himself for relying on the witches a second time. He declares that all who trust them will be damned and, in doing so, curses only himself (7).’ The false security given to him by the witches plays a major role in the downfall of Macbeth.
Macbeth is so paranoid; he has Macduff’s family slaughtered. Macduff is not there to protect his family when the murderers arrive at his home because he ran away to England. When the murderers arrive and announce that Macduff is a traitor for leaving Scotland, Macduff’s son denies all accusations. When one of the murderers hears this, he kills Macduff’s son by stabbing him. The murderer then runs after Lady Macduff. This tragic message reaches Macduff while he is in England. While in England, Malcolm and Macduff plan to take the kingdom back and kill Macbeth. The assassination of his family pushes Macduff more into killing Macbeth. Later in the play Macduff succeeds in killing Macbeth. I think this act suggests that all of the evil that evildoers do, will soon catch up with them or come back to haunt them in the end, such as it did for Macbeth.

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