The play, Macbeth, written by Shakespeare in the early 1603, revolves around a story of a celebrated Scottish general in the army of a Scottish king called Lord Duncan. Macbeth after coming from a victorious conquest encounters a group of witches who prophesies his probability of becoming both a thane Cawdor and later on a king of Scotland. Armed with this revelation, he writes to his wife lady Macbeth who greedily pushes her husband to committing the most heinous hospitality deed, of assassinating his own guest, in the quest for power and prophesy fulfillment. What transpires is the greatest cover-up effort that culminates into numerous deaths of Macbeth’s priory friends, supposedly turned foes; in his paranoia and later on his very own downfall. This research paper aims at analyzing some of the occurrences and contradicting statements within the play as highlighted by various characters.
The play opens up as Scottish war generals, Macbeth and his best friend Banquo, are discussing the weather leading to Macbeth uttering the words, “so foul and fair a day I have not seen.” (1.3.38). By saying this according to David (2003), Macbeth was referring to the so foul; indicating their just concluded war engagements and so fair the victory after war and the good feeling that comes with it. He also state that, by saying, “I have not seen” meant that the two contradictory outcomes such as killing and celebratory mood do not just occur concurrently on daily basis. This line come out in a contradictory manner giving the audience the feeling that Macbeth did not adequately or lacked the correct words to adequately distinguish the two conflicting occurrences. Although the meaning could be decoded, it leaves the audience wondering at his choice of words at such a description.
After the war, which was led by a Scottish traitor the former thane of Cawdor, the latter returns home portrayed as a courageous and celebrated soldier whom the king himself regards highly. This is seen when the king declares that he would be attending a dinner at Macbeth’s castle. Before the latter, on his way as they were chatting with Banquo, they came across a group of witches who foretell of their future greatness. To Macbeth specifically it was prophesied that he shall become the next thane of Cawdor and latter on the king of Scotland. His best friend was promised a long lineage of kingships in his bloodline. Although it was elaborate that Banquo was never to become a king himself. This revelation according to David is what sparked a lot of overly ambitiousness on the side of Macbeth. He further argues that, were it not for his wife lady Macbeth, he perhaps, never would have reached to such a point.
Upon realization that King Duncan was to spend a night at his castle, Macbeth quickly alerted his wife about the development.It is claimed that he also revealed to her the witches prophesy about his possible ascension to power. According to Simon and Schuster (2003), both argue that, it is through this revelation that we are introduced to a viciously, greedy and overly motivated ambitious lady Macbeth. Together, they engage in cahoots to kill King Duncan and blame his guards for the death, to pave way for his ascension to power. This plot is speedily accelerated by Lady Macbeth who presumes his husband to be relenting. She is said to have asked for supernatural powers from the witches to gather the courage to carry out the execution plan. Simon and Schuster (2003) continue to observe that, the author introduces us to the theme of witchcraft through their emergence in the first act. They further argue that the witches are the symbol of all wickedness, obscurity and unending conflicts. This is seen when after immediately, Macbeth meets with them, he changes instantly from a hero to a power thirst assassin.
Although we are not sure of the actual source of the evil force driving the Macbeths’, we can tell that there is a slight connection through the witches acting as agents of evil powers and chaos. Their prophesies are also highly practicable.
Morality and ambition themes are immediately introduced through the Macbeths’. Lady Macbeth is seen challenging her husband’s masculinity to provoke him into agreeing to kill King Duncan on the dinner night at their castle. This plot materializes later and King Duncan is assassinated as planed, exhibiting the greatest hospitality atrocity. The strong character of Lady Macbeth is seen when she is trying to encourage her husband that, the blood in their hands can easily be washed using water. This portrays her as a very will powered woman who can go to any level to achieve her goal.
Simon and Schuster (2003) claim that, King Duncan’s assassination brings about great nature imbalance thus, the beginning of chaos in Scotland. This is substantiated when the late king’s sons run to England for their lives. The priory good friends also, ironically start doubting each other and plotting death behind each others backs. They also observe that when Macbeth seizes power, he goes to any length to protect it even against the witches’ prophesy. In so doing, he kills his best friend Banquo to safeguard his position in power. His friends start running away from him seeking asylum in foreign countries.
Dramatically, Lowenthal (1989) notes that, Lady Macbeth starts suffering great deal for her involvement in the assassinations they had made with her husband. This is seen when she starts hallucinating and sleep walking at night in fear of the darkness that she had priory embraced. Lowenthal (1989) also cites that, her guilt conscience is so tainted that, she can no longer continue living thus committing suicide. This shows us her side we had not predicted. This is because she is introduced in the play as a very evil woman with no conscience whatsoever, something disputable at the end of the play following her behavior and sudden change of heart. She ambitiously sought happiness and joy but died having achieved none, regardless of having attained the hypothetical means to give her happiness. On the contrary, Macbeth who at first appears as a loyal general in the Scottish kingdom ends up turning into an almost unfeeling greedy king.
Simon and Schuster (2003) claim that he is at first introduced to the play as a brave Scottish nobleman. He is convinced, though unwillingly by his ambitious wife to kill for power; this transforms his character and does not change again to the end. They also agree that he employs the help of witches to rise to power, which he holds on to with a lot of totalitarianism and does much killings including on his friends, women, and children, just to sustain his new position. At his greatest level of cynicism, Macbeth does not even get time to moan his wife, showing a great deal of insensitivity. He keeps getting worse until at the end, he tragically dies shamefully and in total solitude. Lowenthal (1989) claims that the two, can not be said to have been entirely successful in their quest for power. He asserts that we have seen them endure great suffering to a point of taking pity on them despite their effort to turn into tyrants. They are seen as a result of excessively uncontrolled ambitions that bring about a lot of disarray in their land.
The departure of Malcolm and his brother also brings lots of nature imbalance. When Macduff leaves his family, also it brings about a lot of imbalance, such that they are assassinated cruelly. David (2003) states that when all these forces meet in England, they plot on how to overthrow Macbeth, with the help of some Scottish noblemen, who feared Macbeth’s insanity. Together, they decide to return and revenge for the injustices Macbeth had caused them. Here again the theme of masculinity, returns when macduff and Malcolm are urging each other to take their misfortunes like men and go back to revenge like men. They go back to Scotland armed and very ready to attack Macbeth and seize power from him so that order could be restored.
David (2003) further states that Macbeth, through his numerous consultations to the witches, misinterpreted some prophesies. This greatly costed him his power and life, thus fulfilling the witches’ prophesy. When Malcolm and his group return to Scotland, they hide in the Birnam wood near his fortified castle. They wage war against Macbeth, who was led to believe by the witches that he was indomitable. Consequently, a son to an English general is slain by Macbeth during the confrontation. Finally, Macduff is able to behead Macbeth thus, fulfilling the first witches’ prophesy. Malcolm who was priory proclaimed the rightful heir to the throne, by his late father King Duncan, took over power thus, restoring order that Macbeth had altered when he killed a King.
In conclusion one can say that, Macbeth, from the start could still have been the hero he priory was had it not been for his wife, Lady Macbeth. Through his wife’s convincing, he unsettles the natural balance of nature by killing the king of Scotland in his quest to ascend to power speedily. This speed and ambition, together with greed, deprives him the opportunity to correct his mistakes thus, pushes him to commit more atrocities to cover up his other heinous mistakes. In so doing his deeds overrides our prior opinion of him, being a victim of having been misled by his wife. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth who first appears to be insensitive, ruthless, and overly ambitious, by the end, dies a very regretful, tormented, and haunted by her past deeds. This leads us to believe that the outcome of what she had thought to be her ticket to happiness, end up being, her ticket to death. This was after being overwhelmed by her husband’s and her own transformation. Thus the conclusion that, they were two over ambitious people, whose paths were clouded by greed, thus, their inability to control it leading to both their demise.