Power can change people in a way that is incomprehensible. Power can make one so greedy that they will do anything for it and won’t let anyone, or thing stand in their way. In William Shakespeare’s tragic play, Macbeth, characterization is used to show that looks are deceiving when power is involved. When a person uses deception to acquire power, the consequences will be fatal and one’s fate will result in demise. When one becomes aware of their glorious future, they will do anything to acquire it.
Macbeth becomes corrupted because of the power he could possess. Macbeth seems like the person who would not commit the act of murder as he has a conscious. This is known because at the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is the one who manipulates Macbeth to commit the crime. In this dialogue between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth expresses his concerns and Lady Macbeth reassures him. Macbeth: “If we should fail? ” Lady Macbeth: “… screw your coverage to the sticking place. And we’ll not fail” (1. 7. 67-69).
Lady Macbeth then goes on to explain the plan and reassures Macbeth by saying “When in swinish sleep their drench natures lies as in death, what cannot you and I perform upon th’ unguarded Duncan? What not put upon his spongy officers, who shall bear the quilt of our great quell? ” (1. 7. 77-82). Macbeth was evidently unsure about this and needed a great deal of reassurance to finally go through with it. Even though Macbeth’s gut instinct at first was not to commit the murder, he gives in to his wife and goes through with it.
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Despite that Macbeth is appalled by his deed, he still goes on to kill more people to secure his position. By the end of the novel, the other lords and everyone else have realized Macbeth is not fit for king and Angus states “Now does he feel his title hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe upon a dwarfish thief” (5. 2. 23-25). Macbeth is realizing that his robes, (roles), are too big for him too fill. He cannot fulfill the responsibilities of a king. Soon after Macbeth is slain for being a traitor as well as a murderer.
Macbeth’s priorities are not straight as a result of his avarice of power. Power is capable of making one so greedy that they will do anything in order to acquire it. Lady Macbeth’s attitude towards power is somewhat similar to Macbeth’s. At the beginning of the play, when Lady Macbeth reads the letter from her husband telling her about the witches, it can be clearly seen that she will be willing to risk anything to see Macbeth as king. Her opinion about murder is that if it helps her to get what she wants, she’s in favor of it.
When Macbeth has his doubts, Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth when she call upon “... spirits that tend on mortal thoughts... ” to “Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse that to compunctious visitings of nature shake my fell purpose... ” (1. 5. 47-48 and 51-53). What Lady Macbeth is saying here is that it is as if she were tearing her heart out to make her husband king. Her sole purpose for murder seems to prove that she has been successful in emptying herself of human feeling. Lady Macbeth seems to lie effortlessly. This trait she has shows that all she wants is power and nothing else.
Lady Macbeth believes that worrying over things you cannot alter is a waste of time, “A little water clears us of this deed” (2. 2. 86). Lady Macbeth announces that the deed is done and there will not be any remorse. This makes one believe Lady Macbeth has no guilt, but by the end of the play it is clearly understood that Lady Macbeth is not as simple as she seems. The gentlewoman is observing Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, along with the doctor, and remarks “It is an accustomed action with her to seem thus washing her hands” (5. 1. 30-32).
To the gentlewoman it appears as if Lady Macbeth’s continuous action of washing her hands is a custom. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, is trying to wash Duncan’s blood off of her hands, which contradicts Lady Macbeth’s earlier actions of saying “A little water clears us of this deed” (2. 2. 86). Her actions now reveal that she does indeed have guilt and fear because she kills herself to escape the horrible nightmares that torment her. Lady Macbeth is a fascinating character. She has immense strength and determination, but by the end, even her greed for power could not stand up to the guilt she faced.
It can be said that Lady Macbeth has struggled with her guilt every bit as much as Macbeth has with his. It can be seen that power can corrupt. Power is something that if placed in the wrong hands, can spoil a lot. Those who crave superiority will do anything to obtain it such as lying and manipulating. The greed for power can make people do outrageous things, and once the power gets into the wrong hands, it will be abused, and can disrupt the sort order that power is supposed to hold within the society.
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