English 11 Honors
Paper on MacBeth
Due Feb 22nd
The tragedy of MacBeth? is a story of courage and honor. It gives an interesting mix of love, Machiavellianism, and has a good storyline. MacBeth is a loyal subject to his king, Duncan, but goes terribly wrong when he listens to 3 witches that tell him he will rule someday. MacBeth wishes to get to power quickly with the help of his wife, Lady MacBeth, he kills Duncan, and everyone else in his way. He takes his throne but is soon overturned by his former subordinates.
In MacBeth, Shakespeare creates characters who parallel other characters either through their words and actions, or through similarities in characters lives. Each character in the story has a double, through either their similarities, or through their differences. Each character also has something about them that makes them unique.
MacBeth and Lady MacBeth are the epitome of an interesting parallelization. At the beginning of the story, the two characters are complete opposites. MacBeth takes the feminine role, while Lady MacBeth is masculine:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood,
Stop up th? access and passage to remorse
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th? affectand it! Come to my woman?s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd?ring minis-
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature?s mischief! Come thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife not see the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To Cry ?hold, Hold!?
Lady MacBeth basically states here that she wants the gods to make her a man. She wants to kill Duncan herself. On the other hand when MacBeth hears of Lady MacBeths seriousness in her actions he comes back with:
We will proceed no further in this business:
He hath honored me as of late, and I have bought
Golden opinions from all sorts of people,
Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,
Not cast aside so soon.?
Nearing the end of the story, Lady MacBeth and MacBeth switch roles. Lady MacBeth becomes feminine and MacBeth becomes masculine. Lady MacBeth becomes week and pitiful while MacBeth, carry?s out his plans to help him remain king:
Out damned spot! Out I say! One: two:
why, then ?tis time to do ?t. Hell is murky. Fie, my
lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear
who knows it, when none can call our pow?r to
accompt? Yet who would have though the old man
to have had so much blood in him??
MacBeth is now fully masculine and trying to keep the kingdom together. When Lady MacBeth commits suicide near the end of the story, he pushes it off and continues with his plan to remain king:
She should have died hereafter;
there would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life?s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That strits 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
The second pair is also interesting. This pair deals with time frames during the story (i.e. MacBeth from the Beginning, Macduff throughout). MacBeth from the beginning of the story is the loyal thane of Glamis. He protects the king and is awarded a second territory called Cawdor. The king trusted him, and MacBeth was a loyal servant. Then, he met the three witches, which pumped prophecies or, ?seeds of evil? into his head. These prophecies are very tempting but are ultimately destructive.
Macduff on the other hand, is faithful and loyal to Duncan and his heir Malcolm. MacDuff knew what MacBeth was plotting and he went to Malcolm to help him stop MacBeth:
Let us seek out some desolate shade, and
Weep our bosoms empty.
Let us rather
Hold fast the mortal sword, and like good men
Bestride our down-fall?n birthdam. Each new morn
New widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows
Strike heaven on the face, that it resounds
As if it felt with Scotland and yelled out
Like syllable of dolor.
What Macduff is basically saying her is that Malcolm should not run and hide. Macduff is saying that they should gain some allies and go and fight the enemy. They should find allies that have, or did have the same problem as themselves and go and fight MacBeth. Here, Malcolm is testing MacDuff to make sure he is loyal.
This next pair, is directly related to the last one. King Duncan had one fatal flaw. He could not distinguish between a loyal subject and a disloyal subject. This is how he was killed. He trusted MacBeth when MacBeth was a traitor. Malcolm, however, does not have this flaw. He is able to easily tell between a loyal, and a disloyal person. In the last pair, Malcolm was testing MacDuff for loyalty, so this same mistake that Duncan made with MacBeth would not happen again.
Finally not a pair, but, triplets. MacBeth, Lady MacBeth and the three witches all parallel each other. Each characters calls upon some type of supernatural force, or godly influence to help them, or hide them. The witches refer to a ?Graymalkin,? which seems to be their god. MacBeth and Lady MacBeth seem to call to the stars to help them:
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.
Lady MacBeth uses ?Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark.? Each character has their own place in MacBeth. That?s what makes it such a good story. None of the characters conflict at any given time. This is what has made the story last throughout the years.
Macbeth, William Shakespeare