The tragedy of Macbeth essay

Last Updated: 05 Aug 2020
Essay type: Book Analysis
Pages: 2 Views: 323

To what extent would you go to satisfy your deepest and darkest desires?

William Shakespeare's play Macbeth, encapsulates Macbeth's rise to power and subsequently shows his downfall as a result of inordinate greed and ambition. While the play uses various techniques to centralize the play around ideas of greed/ambition to show how the lust for power can bring ruin, it progressively helps the reader to deepen their understanding of human nature. Through Shakespeare's choices of changing the tenacious character Macbeth to a more tenuous person throughout the play, it helps us to attain the sort of idea on the effect of greed on human nature; greed can viciously change a person's identity if they succumb to it.

At the beginning of the play ( act 1, ascene 2 ), Macbeth is portrayed to be the epitome of a loyal subject, who valiantly fights against the rebel forces that march upon him to protect the king and preserve his power. He is described as an ideal warrior on the battlefield, plowing through enemy forces to behead the rebel Macdonwald. Yet through the introduction of the witch's revelations/prophecies about his ‘promising’ future as a king, this part of Macbeth begins to waver.

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The selfish desire he has to become king incites great change within the appearance of him, as he “yields to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs, against the use of nature?” where he finds himself contemplating killing King Duncan, something that terrifies him because it is such an unnatural thing to do. Therefore this points towards the way in which Macbeth is already contemplating committing regicide to gain the crown for himself.

This change is perhaps due to the nature of greed, as typically the imaginations that are associated with the influence of greed, like the envisions Macbeth faces, are crazy and lack the control of reality. Macbeth is unable to recognize his shift in personality as he questions himself, “if chance will have me, king, why, why chance may crown me / Without my stir,” showing the witches prophecies have consumed him, and therefore succumbs to kill his dearest friend and King, Duncan, and accomplish his ravenous fate. At this point, we realize that the glorious Macbeth we witnessed in act 1 is replaced by a much more ruthless soul.

Thus, through the characterization of Macbeth and his transition, it helps us deepen our understanding of greediness that is associated with humans and shows no matter who you are, greed can impact us. In society today, many of us have goals that we want to accomplish in life, and our decisions determine how we want to fulfill it. If we choose to be too greedy for it like Macbeth, we jeopardize our identity to someone who is insatiable therefore Shakespeare is trying to make us aware of this.

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