Throughout the play Macbeth, characters change and so do their relationships with other characters. Life is taken for granted, and tossed away as if it’s merely an old toy. Honour and potential of great men tarnished due to their greed and power hunger. The plot develops the idea that A. C Bradley proposes: The central feeling of a tragedy is one of waste. Macbeth is portrayed as a tragic hero, someone who has it all at first but decides to give it all up.
Throughout the story the waste of potential, the waste of life and finally the waste of innocence are just some of the types of wastes that can be found, but they are enough to prove the theory. According to critic A. C. Bradley, the central feeling of a tragedy is one of waste. It can be argued that Macbeth’s waste of his own innocence was not intentional, but forced upon by his wife, yet he ends up going through with the deed of killing Duncan. His waste of innocence was directly connected to his probable lack of morals and self esteem.
He was persuaded to kill Duncan out of his wife’s question of his manliness. “I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more, is none. ” (Macbeth, Act I, scene vii) The evidence shows that his innocence has allowed his wife to make him question his manliness and therefore his morals. But not only has Macbeth been persuaded to kill Duncan, but his innocence gets mocked as Lady Macbeth states “A little water clears us of this deed” (Lady Macbeth, Act II, scene ii).
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She portrays murder as merely a deed that can be simply washed away from the hands with water and therefore the mind as well. The waste of Macbeth’s innocence although unintentional to him, is what begins the waste concept. The potential someone has is based on their character and their actions and how they incorporate the two into life situations. Yet both Macbeth’s actions and character seem to be weak and immoral. The waste of potential becomes evident as Macbeth turns from a hero into a tragic hero, and starts to take lives as if they are worthless.
I am in blood, Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more, Returning were as tedious as go o'er. ” (Macbeth, Act III, scene iv) He shows that he has no interest of going back to right, when he has already committed so much wrong doing. His potential is no more at that point as he has ruined any chance. “Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep” (Macbeth, Act III, scene ii) shows that Macbeth’s potential has gone from something great to having to be in fear all the time. But it is not only his potential that is lost, but Banquo’s as well when he takes his life.
In this play one of the main purposes of Banquo's character is to act as a contrast to the character of Macbeth. Banquo is brave and noble - characteristics that Macbeth arguably doesn't. The most evident type of waste in the play is the waste of life. Life is so carelessly thrown away by Macbeth and shows that it has no meaning to him and he takes it at disposal. “The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees, Is left this vault to brag of. ” (Macbeth, Act II, scene iii) is a quote that symbolizes life has no real meaning and can therefore be carelessly wasted.
His humanness gets lost because of his power hunger and it’s because of the waste of life throughout the play, that the play becomes one of tragedy and an overall feeling of waste. The following quote, “I will not yield To kiss the ground before young Malcolm's feet,” (Macbeth, Act V, scene viii) shows that he is even willing to waste his own life because of his legacy and pride that will follow him after life, so to speak, this shows lack of morality towards not only his own life but to the lives of others.
Finally the most evident quote: “Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. ” (Macbeth, Act V, scene v) This quote shows that Macbeth’s final, as it’s at the end of the play, thought of human life is that it is very worthless, and that is in fact why he chose to waste it. It is time on this earth that we waste because it is absolutely meaningless.
In conclusion, critic A. C. Bradley, was right to state that the central feeling of a tragedy is one of waste, especially throughout Macbeth. The waste of innocence, waste of potential and finally waste of life have the power to prove the critic indeed right. Yet the list of all that was wasted goes on and on, and it’s logical to consider if not for fear of what society thinks of us would we too be able to waste life, potential perhaps, or maybe innocence to our own dismay. Bradley was correct, but do the things that stop our lives from becoming a tragedy have to do with our values or with what society will think of us.
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