Murder is a recurring theme in the tragedy of Macbeth. Although there are countless murders, the play DOES distinguish between honorable and dishonorable violence. For example, Macbeth begins to form an internal conflict prior to murdering Duncan. The conflict can be seen throughout lines 34-64 of Scene 2 in Act two, specifically with the lines, “I see thee yet, in form as palpable as this which now I draw.” This murder is definitely seen as a dishonorable death, as Macbeth murders Duncan due to the fact that he wishes the prophecy to come true. Another example of dishonorable death would be in scene three of act three, when murderers are hired to kill Banquo. This death is seen as dishonorable as it was only committed to fulfill the prophecy. Not only was it dishonorable for that specific reason; it was seen as dishonorable as Banquo’s ghost came back to haunt Macbeth while having dinner with the lords.
Macbeth constantly sees the ghost throughout dinner, specifically when the ghost sits in Macbeth’s chair. This shows how dishonorable it was to murder Banquo, as it was only to fulfill the prophecy. However, the play does distinguish between dishonorable and honorable deaths. Macbeth’s death in the end was honorable, as he deserved to die. Macbeth was responsible for the madness throughout the entire story, killing countless men as he was afraid of the revelations that had came true from the prophecy. Macduff’s killing of Macbeth was done due to the fact that Macduff was avenging his family; however, Macbeth’s killings were done out of terror. Without a doubt, the tragedy of Macbeth distinguishes between honorable and dishonorable deaths. This play also can be seen as a plea for peace and human harmony, by supporting the fact that people will murder not only out of greed, but out of honor as well.
2. Relationship between Macbeth and lady Macbeth.
The relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth plays an extremely crucial role in the telling of this tragedy. Not only does it make it a vital role in this play, it also is the engine that drives the play into a tragedy. Lady Macbeth undoubtedly has a direct enforcement onto Macbeth’s decision
into killing Duncan in the second act. When the two were first talking about killing Duncan, Lady Macbeth simply said, “We will proceed no further in this business”. However, as the story progresses, Lady Macbeth sees the benefits of becoming a queen and forcefully attempts to persuade Macbeth into killing the king. She even goes as far as planning the murder for him. At then end of Act 1, Lady Macbeth plans the murder; she states that they will attack, “When Duncan is asleep”, and to blame it on the guards who were supposed to be guarding his chamber. Also, Lady Macbeth acts as a public figure WITH Macbeth; they are now seen as a royal couple once he becomes king. Lady Macbeth becomes very active in social gatherings, specifically during the dinner in Act 3. When Macbeth begins to go insane from seeing Banquo’s ghost, Lady Macbeth “covers for him” by claiming he has a common condition and saying, “He will again be well.” Without a doubt, Lady Macbeth vigorously influences the decisions made my Macbeth and also acts as a political figure along with his role as King. Lady Macbeth most certainly morphs this play into a tragedy by transforming Duncan’s murder from an honorable one, committed solely by Macbeth’s wants, into a dishonorable one, driven desperately by Lady Macbeth’s greed to become royalty.
3. Directing Shakespeare
As a director of a Shakespeare play, I would envision a modern day Macbeth play. The play would be set in modern day, and Macbeth would be played by a high ranking official that is not the head of his perspective country; for instance, he would be the secretary of state of the United States. Congressmen, who will prophesize, would play the witches and foresee Macbeth as becoming president, while another cabinet member (Banquo) will have sons who will rise to the positions of vice president and become president. Thus, this will foretell the prophecy as Macbeth becoming “King” (president) and Banquo having “descendants who are kings” (those who will eventually become president. Lady Macbeth will obviously be Macbeth’s wife, who still persuades Macbeth to murder the current president. Although secretary of state is not next in line to become president, Macbeth will prove that he is the worthy choice as the Secretary of State generally knows more of the country’s well being rather than the vice president.
He would then hire gunmen to extinguish Banquo so that he could keep the presidency and so that none of his descendants can overthrow him. During his inaugural address after killing Banquo, Macbeth would see Banquo’s “shadow” hovering around, which would make him go crazy just like in the original play. Banquo’s ghost would then be standing where Macbeth should be standing to give his speech, just how Banquo was sitting in Macbeth’s chair during the dinner with the lords. The vice president, who flees because he fears that Macbeth would kill him, would play Macduff. Once he realizes that the president has killed all of his loved ones, he then returns to the United States to kill Macbeth, and to take the presidency. Without a doubt, this would be an accurate version of a modern day Macbeth.
4 Fair is foul and foul is fair
The theme “fair is foul and foul is fair” occurs multiple times throughout the play. This theme means that everything you think is good will not always turn out for the best. For example, Macbeth thought that murdering Duncan and Banquo would turn out for the best; that he would end up with the crown and that there was no one in his way to stop him. However, he then realized that murdering those two catalyzed his downfall, and eventually was the cause of his death in the end. Also, the murders began to make Macbeth go insane; he began to see ghosts of Banquo, specifically at dinner.
An example of this can be found in Act two scene one during Macbeth’s soliloquy. Macbeth begins to imagine things; he says, “IS this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.” Obviously, Macbeth’s conscience has been manipulated. This shows a prime example of the last section of the theme, “Foul is Fair”. Macbeth’s murdering has now become dishonorable, and the theme suggests that he now deserves to be driven insane. The first part of the theme, “Foul is Fair” is emphasized particularly at the end of the play. Macduff’s “foul” action of killing Macbeth is considered fair. Macduff only murders Macbeth because Macbeth has caused tragedy upon Macduff, and he will want to avenge his family and put an end to Macbeth’s reign. Macbeth’s death is often praised as honorable as it was well deserved. Without a doubt, the theme of “Fair is foul and foul is Fair” is a reoccurring element throughout the tragedy of Macbeth. It serves as an element of payback, and also gives meaning to those who have been struck by dishonorable actions.
Shakespeare utilizes the characteristics of the witches throughout the play. Not only are they physical characters who prophesize the primary points throughout the entire play, they serve to symbolize the human trait of deception and evil. For example, in the beginning of act three, the witches speak greatly of partaking in evil acts, such as “killing swine” and “…drain(ing) him dry as hay”. Also, the witches are extremely deceptive. They prophesize that Macbeth could never be harmed by someone of “womanly birth”. This made Macbeth believe that no one could kill him and that Banquo’s descendants could not take the throne from him. However, they did not mention that someone of a Cesarean section could kill him. This is the primary reason why the witches were deceptive; Macduff did not have a “womanly birth”, thus making him capable of killing Macbeth and thus making the witches extremely deceptive.
Also, the witches utilize the literary technique or sarcasm. They are deceptive and evil; they prophesize the events that will happen to Macbeth and sarcastically “Hail!’ Macbeth and Banquo when they lay eyes on them. It is evil of them to do this as they know of the unfortunate events that will eventually take place on Macbeth’s life. However, they did not have as much of an impact on Banquo’s thoughts. Although they were the reason for his death by Macbeth, Banquo did not necessarily believe as strongly as Macbeth did in the prophecy; he merely thought that his descendants will take the throne AFTER Macbeth has died a natural death. Without a doubt, the witches play an extremely crucial role in the evolution of Macbeth’s plot. They not only are a notable group of characters within the story, they also serve as the human trait of greed and deception.
Shakespeare most certainly utilizes the literary technique of elision, or when certain key events take place off stage. A prime example would be at the end of scene one in Act two, where Macbeth says, “I go and it is done; the bell invites me. Hear it not Duncan, for it is a knell that summons thee to heaven, or to hell.” prior to murdering Duncan. Shakespeare uses this literary device in order to stimulate the imagination of the reader. This
makes the reader want to keep reading, and it gives a chance for the person viewing the play to imagine how the death scene took place. The scene can look extremely grotesque in our imaginations; far worse than could be executed in a play. Also, Macbeth’s character is not violent, and acting a scene such as this would confuse the audience. This would be the perfect place to use elision, as a murder scene can be considered to be one of the most climatic parts of any plot. Also, this technique helps to focus more on Macbeth’s decline throughout the story. Having the violence intertwined into the play would just throw the entire downfall of Macbeth’s character away; elision helps for the play to focused on the evolution of the prophecy of the witches. Also, Shakespeare’s actors did not have the special affects available of their time to be able to perform a feasible death scene. The play was first performed in 1611, and a death scene would have been extremely difficult to seem realistic. Without a doubt, elision is an extremely critical literary element used throughout the play of Macbeth. It allows us to use our imaginations to their full capacity, by making the murdering of King Duncan even more grotesque than could have been acted on any stage.
7. The macbeth’s VS. other political relationships
I do not feel as if Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had a relationship that was similar to that of modern day political figures such as Nancy and Ronald Reagan. At first, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth showed an adequate amount of affection for each other; Macbeth even speaks to her as “my dearest love.” However, as the play progressed, Lady Macbeth began to influence Macbeth’s decision making, and they began to form an almost completely political relationship rather than an affectionate one. Lady Macbeth states in act 1, “wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would’ like the poor cat I’ th’ adage?” This shows that the relationship almost turns completely political when Lady Macbeth begins to convince Macbeth that he should kill Duncan for the crown. This would not be a prime example of the Reagan’s relationship. Many reporters described their relationship as intimate. However, the Macbeth’s can be descried more as a relationship similar to that of Hiliary and Bill Clinton. Their relationship is strictly
politics, just like the Macbeth’s after Act 1. This can also be supported from Act 3. When Macbeth has his episode from seeing the ghost at the dinner table, Lady Macbeth simply worries more of how they look politically rather than his mental health. If the Macbeth’s really cared about each other, Lady Macbeth would have immediately cried for medical attention rather than making a cover up story saying that he is suffering from a specific condition that is widespread throughout their area. Without a doubt, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth have a political relationship similar to that of the modern day Clintons; however, their relationship most certainly does not compare to that of Nancy and Ronald Reagan.
8. The Downfalls of the main character
The Tragedy of Macbeth is filled with various places where downfalls of the main character happen. The first major tragic downfall takes place at the beginning of act two and at the end of scene 1. Macbeth begins to imagine things by saying, “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not fatal vision, sensible to feeling as to sight, or art thou but a dagger of the mind, a false creation, proceeding from the heat –oppressed brain?” At this point, Macbeth falls victim to an extremely crucial internal conflict with his subconscious; he realizes that he is going insane yet he knows that there is nothing else he can do about it. Another great downfall of Macbeth occurs in Act 3 during the dinner scene. He has just murdered Banquo as he is frightened of the revelations from the witches. He then begins to hallucinate by seeing Banquo’s ghost roaming around throughout the dinner scene. Also, Banquo’s death influences Macduff to expose Macbeth and to kill him, ultimately contributing to another major downfall of Macbeth. At this point, Macbeth’s mentality is extremely unstable. The last major downfall of Macbeth is when he goes as far as murdering innocent civilians; Lady Macduff and baby Macduff. The murder of these two individuals ultimately catalyzes Macduffs anger to extinguish Macbeth from the face of the planet, and to remove him from the throne. This terrible and grotesque action taken by Macbeth was underlying reason for his death. Without a doubt, there are various key events that lead to the downfall of the main character, Macbeth. He constantly is fighting his subconscious as his
actions come back to haunt him at later times of the story.