It is indeed evident that the play, Macbeth is ultimately about the struggle for power. Power is something many desire where people often change and become evil in their attempts to acquire it and during this play the characters go through many changes which lead to disaster. The two main characters mostly influenced by power in this Shakespearean play are Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is swayed by the prophecy made by the witches and also by Lady Macbeth who holds great control over her husband.
Through the analysis of characters and techniques it can be seen that the desire of gaining power is evident in the play, Macbeth and that the characters stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Although the protagonist gains power there is still a constant thirst for more, to better their position one step further, even if it comes at the expense of a life. Macbeth becomes fixated on rising to the throne in place of King Duncan however; just recently, he has been given the title of thane of Cawdor by the king.
Although happy with the new title and new power, Macbeth still craves for the role held by the king. The importance of honor in society is a primary theme as it is what provokes Macbeth to kill for kingship and sends him on a dismal journey towards the throne. “If chance will have me king, why chance may crown me without my stir”. (ACT I scene 3, lines 143-145) This demonstrates the ideology that Macbeth is not satisfied with just being a thane but has now heard the prophecy and is seduced by the thought of gaining more power. He hastily makes the decision to Kill Duncan with the influence of Lady Macbeth.
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Lady Macbeth's struggle for power starts the moment she appears in the play where she finds the letter and launches into criticizing Macbeth's manhood. "It is too full of o' th' milk of human kindness". This metaphoric language mirrors the domineering character of Lady Macbeth where she accuses him of being too gentle to kill King Duncan. She believes this so much that she calls on evil spirits to remove Macbeth’s kind nature. "Hie thee hither that I may pour my spirits in thine ear and chastise with the valor of my tongue all that impedes thee from the golden round, which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crowned withal. (Act 1 Scene 5, lines 23-28)
Denoting that she is willing to cast out all that is righteous and dignified about her husband in efforts to gain power. She doesn't hesitate to execute the plan of murdering King Duncan because she believes the prophecy is true and that destiny is on her side. In search of power, the characters change and descend into a compulsive state which leads to disaster. As Macbeth falls deeper into this obsession with the throne he becomes a more dishonest and cunning character. “Who’s there? A friend”. ACT II scene 1, lines 11-12).
This use of irony depicts the deceitful nature of Macbeth as he descends into madness. Banquo is a very loyal general to the King and he will not be tempted by Macbeth into betraying him. Macbeth is certainly no friend to Banquo, his murderous quest to kill Duncan contradicts Banquo’s morals and judgment. “Upon this bank and shoal of time we’d jump the life to come” (ACT I scene 7, lines 6-7). This metaphor exemplifies the idea that this shallow or narrow ford of human life in this great river of eternity.
Shakespeare has creatively used symbolism through metaphoric language to demonstrate how a narrow river being cut off and dried up is Macbeth killing Duncan. He will be overthrowing the natural order of the heir to the throne and setting his place in eternity. Evidently he must kill King Duncan in this short period of time while he is still vulnerable in his castle. The effect of ambition on Macbeth drives him into his contemptible acts in order to assume the throne. He falls into a deep obsession which consumes his rational thought and he becomes very evil and conniving. Is this the dagger which I see before me, the handle towards my hand? ” (ACT II scene 1, line 33-34)
This foreshadowing illustrates the subconscious thoughts of Macbeth and how they materialize in front of him. He starts to visualize this dagger, predicting the malicious tasks ahead which add the disturbing atmosphere. Macbeth chooses to abuse his power over others and he becomes a hated king. This is caused not only by his cruelty but also the many superstitions by people who think he killed Duncan which greatly depleted his power. Lady Macbeth is quick to become evil in her ways as she is the mastermind behind the killing of Duncan.
He that’s coming must be provided for, and you shall put this night’s great business into my dispatch” (ACT I scene 6, lines 64-66). These heartless puns convey Lady Macbeth’s merciless intentions for the night’s gathering. Being provided for often takes on the meaning of being fed but in this case Lady Macbeth is referring to the death of King Duncan. Putting the night’s business into her dispatch appears to be something along the lines of carrying out the welcome of the guests and of course she is indicating that Macbeth must follow her instruction in order to kill King Duncan.
Ultimately it is evident that Macbeth is about the struggle for power where once you have gained a certain power you still yearn more, establishing a constant desire. When the characters are in search of power they become obsessive and this causes them to change and become evil. Therefore it can be seen that the importance and desire for power greatly contributes to the outcome of the play and the fate of the characters.
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