THEMES IN MACBETH Macbeth was written while when Scotland lacked a good Leader to defendit from a Norwasian invasion. During this dangerous situation, Macbethstood out as the most commanding figure by defeating the rebel army. Histhrill towards the witches’ prophecies all confirmed his hopes of becomingthe King and replacing King Duncan, who lacked the power and courage tosave his country from this invasion. In this essay, I will discuss Macbeth during the many experiences thathe had faced and come across and I will show how these experiences andpressures that he faced helped with the conclusion and theme of the playwhich yet has to be understood.
The first signs that tell us of Macbeth’s thoughts of becoming King werefound when the King proclaimed his son, Malcolm, the heir to the Scottishthrone, and Macbeth considered murder to overcome this obstacle that wouldprevent him from becoming the King.The prince of Cumberland! That is a stepOn which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires!Let not light see my black and deep desires.The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.
(Act 1:Scene 4:ln.55) When Lady Macbeth heard of her husband’s success and read the letter, wealmost immediately feel that a new source of power had appared in thedrama. Her words reflected a great knowledge of her husband and herpractical approach to problems as seen in the following two verses.Glacis thou art, and Cowdor, and shalt beWhat thou are promised.
Yet do I fear thy nature.It is too full o’ the milk of human kindnessTo catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great;Art not without ambition, but withoutThe illness should attend it. What though wouldst highly,That wouldst though holily;wouldst not play falseAnd yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou’ldst have, great GlacisThat which cries”Thus though must do,”if though have it;And that which rather thou dost fear to doThan wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither,That I may pour my spirits in thine earAnd chastise with the valor of my tongueAll that impedes thee from the golden roundWhich fate and metaphysical aid doth seemTo have thee crowned withal.
(Act 1:Scene 5:ln.14O, never Shall sun that morrow see!Your face, my thane, is a book where menMay read strange matters. To beguile the time,Look like the time;bear welcome in your eye,Your hand, your tongue, look like the innocent flower,But be the serpent under’t. He that’s comingMust he provide for; and you shall putThis night’s great business into my dispatches,Which shall to all our nights and days to come,Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.(Act 1:Scene 6:ln.
68) Driven to murder King Duncan, Macbeth’s conscience first appeared whenhe was not present to greet the King upon his arrival at the castle. Thisshowed the lack of courage that Macbeth had to face his victim.If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere wellIt were done quickly. If the assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,With his surcease, success, that but this blowMight be the be-all and the end-all here,But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,We’ld jump the life to come. But in these casesWe still have judgment here, that we but teachBloody instructions, which being taught, returnTo plague the inventor…
…..(Act 1:Scene 7:ln 1) This verse stressed Macbeth’s fears of punishment. He cleared out thathe was prepared to suffer eternity if only this crime would go unpunished.
He recognized certain obstacles in killing the King, the first and mostimportant being was that the King was his guest. He also saw some dangersof committing the crime and understood it consequences well. When Macbeth tried to resist the temptation, his wife was the one thatinsisted on him to consent the murder.What beast was’t then that made you brake this enterprise to me?When you drust do it, then you were a man;And to be more than what you were, you wouldBe so much more than man. Nor time nor placeDid then adhere, and yet you would make both.They have made themselves, and that their fitness knowHow tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me.I would, while it was smiling in my face,Have plucked my nipples from his boneless gumsAnd dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as youHave done to this.
(Act 1:Scene 7:ln. 68)She accused Macbeth of cowardness and later assures him that the crime willgo undetected when she outlined it’s details. In Act2:Scene 1:ln.72, weknow that the crime will happen when Macbeth says:I go, and it is done. The bell invites me.Hear it not Duncan, for it is a knellThat summons thee to heaven or to hell. Following the crime, we get the impression that Macbeth was horrified bywhat he had done.
It seems that he had gone through some sort of “mentalcollapse” due to the haunted visions of guilt and punishment that heexperienced.”There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried”Murder!”” (Act 2: Scene 2:ln.32)”Glacis hath murdered sleep, and therefor CowdorShall sleep no more! Macbeth shall sleep no more!”(Act 2:Scene 2:ln.57) Having begun a career of evil, Macbeth felt that the only way to remainin power was by going on and committing other crimes. He had startedplotting his own course of murder. His behaviours are all based on fearwhich had arose from insecurity. It was not possible for him to turn backbecause he had reached the “point of no return.
” (Coles Notes.) When Macbeth spoke of his fears from Bunquo, we immediately know thatthe next murder will target on the later.To be thus is nothingBut to be safely thus. Our fears in BunquoStick deep, and in his royalty of natureReigns that which would be feared. ‘Tis much he dares,And to that dauntless temper of his mindHe hath a wisdom that doth guide his valorTo act in safety.
There is none but heWhose being I do fear…..
.(Act 3:Scene 1:Ln.52)Macbeth next hired two murderers to murder Bunquo, and convinced them tocommit the crime saying that it was he who had prevented them from risingin this world. He attacked their courage and used his wife’s philosophy toregain their confidence assuring them that everything will go fine.
I will advice you were to plant yourselves,Acquaint you with the perfect spy o’ the time,The moment on’t;for’t must be done tonight,And something from the palace(always thoughtThat I require a clearness), and with him,To leave no rubs nor botches in the work,Fleance his son, that keeps him company,Whose absence is no less material to meThan his father’s, must embrace the fateOf the dark hour. Resolve yourselves apart;I’ll come to you anon. (Act 3:Scene 1: Ln.144) The murder had gone undetected but not for long.
During the party thatMacbeth made, the ghost of Bunquo appeared twice to him. In the first time,it looked disapprovingly at him and allowed him to regain his confidencebut finally made him speak of his terrors of the Assembled Lords whichconfirmed whatever suspense they had of him.Thanks for that!There the grown serpent lies;the worm that’s fledHath nature that in time will venom breed,No teeth for the present. Get thee gone. Tomorrowwe’ll hear ourselves again.(Act 3:Scene 3:Ln.35) The guilt of Macbeth is again revealed during this scene when he spokehis last two verses.
I hear it by the way;but I will send.There’s not a one of them, but in this houseI keep a servant feed. I will tomorrow(And betimes I will) to the weird SistersMore shall they speak; for know I am bent to knowBy the worst means the worst. For mine own goodAll causes shall give way. I am in bloodStepped in so far that, should I wade no more,Returning were as tedious as go o’erStrange things I have to head, that will to hand,Which must be acted ere they may be scanned.(Act 3:Scene 4:Ln.
162)Come, we’ll to sleep. My strange and self-abuseIs the initiate fear that wants hard use.We are yet but young indeed.(Act 3:Scene 4:Ln.174)These two verses all reflected the suspense that Macbeth had forhisnoblemen and the suggestion of still worse crimes that would follow. When Macduff defied Macbeth and went to England, Macbeth’s fears drovehim to give up himself to the forces of evil and demanded”to know,by theworst means,the worst.” He knew that he had nothing to loose since everyonewas suspicious of him.
For this reason, when the armed head warned Macbethof Macduff, he went and killed his family and servants one by one. Thefirst two crimes were all carried out at night. In the third one, Macbethmade no effort to conceal it but boldly carried it out during the daylight. Macbeth’s honest and heroic character had been replaced by a man who’smoods always changed, one who feared the hidden truth and one who hardlyknew his mind. We pity this man for the situation he had brought onhimself. “What makes a true man is a theme that runs throughout Macbeth” (Coles Notes.) According to his wife life, a true man is one who sets great goals forhimself and will do anything to achieve them.
“The true man towers aboveordinary men,” says Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is full of ambition but has toomuch”o’ the milk of human kindness.” that makes up the ordinary man. Helikes to achieve his goals ” holily” like a saint unacquainted withpractical affairs. It is by this appeal that Macbeth is driven to commit the murders andconvince the murderers to kill Bunquo. “A true man will respond to injuriesby taking a bloody revenge!” says Macbeth. The irony is that by doing what he had done, Macbeth’s guilt followedhim where ever he went and made him loose all his feelings. By the end ofthe play, Macbeth lost all his feelings .
He reached the point where he hadno taste of fear and the death of his wife did not bother him which hedismisses by saying that she had to die someday and somehow.The time has been, my senses would have cooledTo hear a night shriek, and my fell of hairWould at a dismal treatise rouse and stirAs life were in’t. I have supped full with horrors.Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts,Cannot once start me.
(Act 5:Scene 5:Ln.11)She could have died hereafter;There would have been a time for such a word.Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrowCreeps in this petty pace from day to dayTo the last syllable of recorded time;And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe 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 stageAnd then is heard no more. It is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing.(Act 5:Scene 5:Ln.19) All in all, I think that by using the characteristics of Macbeth,Shakespeare succeeded in relating him to many people today because hisqualities are naturally part of human nature. Macbeth had lived a life fullof ups and downs, just like many of us, but in his opinion, he had notaccomplished anything.Seyton-I am sick at heart,When I behold-Seyton, I say!-This pushWill cheer me ever, or disseat me know.I have lived long enough. My way of lifeIs fallen into the sere, the yellow leaf;And that which should accompany old age,As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends,I must not look to have;but, in their stead,Curses not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath,Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.
Seyton! (Act 5: Scene 4:Ln.48)All men are born good but just like Macbeth, people have the power tobecome evil, only when they become aware of it.It was and is always noteasy to see a great man turn from good to evil. We admire Macbeth’scourage, as he, with his wife dead and world collapsing, resolved to fightto the end and “die with harness on his back.” Not all men are as heroic, after all !Category: Shakespeare