ENGLISH HL SHAKESPEARE- MACBETH ESSAY It is human nature to be intrigued by all things mystical and dangerous. We fear the unknown but seek it nonetheless out of greed. Most of Shakespeare’s works hold an element of the supernatural and the play Macbeth is no exception. In this play we see a contemporary morality that warns of the dangers of trafficking with instruments of darkness; the witches in the play prophesize of Macbeths future as king, and Macbeth blinded by his hunger for power fails to recognize that the witches prophecies are luring him to evil .
In act 1 scene 3 we see the effect that the excitement of the prophecies has had on his imagination as he begins to contemplate murdering the king. As Macbeth gets closer to kingship his imagination grows wild and evil. This essay will aim to describe how internal conflict, imagery and themes are used in establishing Macbeth’s confused, guilty and eventually confident state of mind as he made his way to Duncan’s chamber. Macbeth suffers from internal conflict as he battles with his guilt and ambitions to be king. The internal conflict of Man verses himself is seen in Macbeths aside in act 1 scene 3.
This aside holds many powerful statements by Macbeth about his sense of confusion and torn state of mind. For example “the supernatural soliciting (temptation) cannot be ill- cannot be good… if good, why do I yield to that suggestion” is an antithesis that gives the audience further insight into Macbeth’s way of reason. When broken down, this antithesis show that Macbeth knew something terrible was going to happened (“cannot be good”) but Macbeth, energized by the prophecies and possibility that he will be king (“cannot be ill”) knows he lacks the strength to overcome his desires.
Macbeth is deeply agonized at the thought of killing the king who he has gained honor, respect and a good reputation from. He takes pride in his honor and fears ruining it. But the chance of being kings is too great of an opportunity for Macbeth to give up. To audiences and/or readers new to Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth may seem ruthless. But his doubts and uncertainties about killing the king show some sense of compassion and morality. Shakespeare often presents uncertain and abnormal conditions of the mind in the leading protagonists in his plays in order to excite and arouse emotions whether it is of pity, fear or astonishment within the udience. Macbeth does not think so much about the wrongness of killing Duncan but rather he looks at the innocence of Duncan and thinks about how the people will feel if the king were dead. Macbeth therefore spirals himself into a confused and hesitant state of mind as he fights to wrestle down his guilt in order to follow through with the murder of king Duncan. Macbeth has become consumed by his desperate desires to be king and has developed an overly active imagination in attempts to conjure up the courage, willpower and confidence to find a way to successfully kill Duncan without being caught.
Unfortunately Macbeth faces difficulties containing his active imagination and this leads him into mind states of denial uncertainty and confusion. All this is captured perfectly by Shakespeare’s use of the imagery of light and dark in act 1 scene 4:“stars hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires! ” Light symbolizes life, virtue and goodness while the dark symbolizes evil and death. Macbeth requests the starts to hides their fires so that there is darkness, because the evil deeds he is about to commit are so horrible that It would blind ones sight to look, therefore partial blindness is necessary to carry it out.
Light and darkness are extended metaphors to represent nature. Macbeth hides from nature (hides from the light of the stars) and uses nature to hide his cruel intentions (performs the murder in the dark of night). This particular phrase shows equivocation whereby Macbeth is denying himself of the knowledge that he is capable of such horrors by wanting the stars to hide their light from him. It is within this denial that a glimmer of uncertainty and confusion peak through Macbeth. If he were certain about the murder he would have had the confidence to face the exposing light of nature fearlessly.
True evil fears no good. Macbeth fears the light then he cannot be a purely evil individual. A purely evil individual fears nothing but himself and to add to that note that is reason why Macbeth is referred to as a tragic hero and not a villain. His tragedy is profound because he realizes that killing the king is wrong and mentally and physically he is very hesitant to do so but he still give into his selfishness ambitions as he makes his ways to Duncan’s chambers. As we move closer to the king’s murder in act 2, the evil in Macbeth begins to strengthen and solidify.
We begin to see the cunning traits of a murder surface in Macbeth as the theme of appearance verses reality is brought out in his character at the end of act 1 scene 7 when he says “false face must hide what false heart doth know”. This example implies that one can never truly tell what is on someone else mind by looking at the face; the face will hide the truth that the heart and mind (conscience) knows. There is a metaphoric reference to the reality that is behind Macbeth’s appearance. The false face that Macbeth speaks of is like a mask worn by a thief.
Like a thief he will put on a mask and steal Duncan’s life and crown away from him and no will would know it is him as he is disguised. In the beginning of this scene Macbeth had come to the conclusion that his ambitions were not justified enough to kill Duncan who was a good king and good man. When he told his wife that they must not go ahead with the plans she questions his manhood. In my opinion Macbeth’s need to prove his manhood is the driving force that fuels his strength to follow through with the murder. It is important to note that Macbeth is a strong soldier but a week man.
He burdens insecurities about being barren. If it were not for lady Macbeth and her ridicule about his cowardice, Macbeth would have never risen to the occasion. As he made his way to Duncan’s chamber Macbeth still had hesitations however his wife scrutiny and attack on his manhood gave him the confidence to see their plans through. The tragic tale of Macbeth epitomizes the deadliness that ambition for power holds. Within an instant Macbeth’s honorable and worthy service in battle evolves itself into a cowardly attack on a helpless victim all in the name of greed and power.
Macbeth is not a dastardly villain. He is a fallen hero who has been stained by malignant ambitions and insecurities of his manhood driven not only by himself but also by the dominant female figures in the play (the witches and Lady Macbeth in particular). Macbeth craves and strives for the crown of Scotland. However as the time to kill the king breaches closer and closer Macbeth has an increasing sense of confusion and uncertainty about the person he is and the person he is about to become.