Macbeth; Loyal or Not
NOTE: Each word listed in bold is things i could include in SAC and relavant stuff. Impoaratnt stuff basically. Paradoxes/Things in Twos/Oxymorons. Throughout Macbeth, there are many situations and characters’ internal conflicts which are paradoxical. There are also many things which come in twos; these are similar, but not always identical. From almost the beginning of the play (“when the battle’s lost and won”), paradoxes/doubles appear regularly. Examples include: “when the battle’s lost and won” (1. 1. 4) “fair is foul and foul is fair” (1. 1. 2), (said by the witches) “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. ” (1. 3. 65) “Not so happy, and yet much happier” (1. 3. 66) “So foul and fair a day I have not seen” (1. 3. 38) (Macbeth’s first line) “they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe. ” (1. 2. 42) “the service and the loyalty I owe in doing it pays itself. ” (1. 4. 25-6) “I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. ” (2. 1. 46) “double, double, toil and trouble… ” (4. 1. 10) Ambition and Betrayal. Macbeth’s tragic flaw is likely his own ambition, which leads him to betray King Duncan and, later, murder his friend Banquo.
He becomes Thane of Cawdor only after the previous thane rebels against the king; Macbeth thus continues a tradition of betrayal among those in power. The play dwells on ambition’s ability to be a morally corrupting agent. It has the same effect on Lady Macbeth, whose sins drive her to madness and suicide. Visions. There are several hallucinations in the play. In Act 2 Scene 1, Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in the air, pointing to King Duncan’s resting chamber, perhaps encouraging his upcoming deed. In Act 5 Scene 1 Lady Macbeth hallucinates that her hands are covered in blood, despite her obsessive washing.
Macbeth also sees the ghost of Banquo at the royal banquet. The precise meaning and origins of these visions is ambiguous(open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations). They could possibly be conjured by the three witches, who are actively involved in the play’s events. Or they could be simple products of madness, reinforcing the play’s thesis that betrayal is corrupting in the mind. (The ghost, at least, would not be unusual to see in a Shakespeare play that already involves the supernatural. ) Blood and bloodshed.
Macbeth is one of the bloodiest of Shakespeare’s plays (see also Titus Andronicus, another of Shakespeare’s more bloody works. ) As the play opens, Macbeth has just defeated Norwegian invaders in a gruesome battle. As a gravely-wounded captain arrives, Duncan remarks: “What bloody man is that? He can report, as seemeth by his plight” (1. 2). In this and other examples, blood might signify the advent of a messenger, the admonitions(Mild, kind, yet earnest reproof) of God, or a warning for the future. The witches’ cauldron too is filled with blood.
Macbeth of course serves a bloody term in office, ordering the murder of opponents and potential rivals. Lady Macbeth’s hallucination of blood on her hands seems to represent her feeling of guilt. At the play’s end, Macduff presents the new king (and the audience) with Macbeth’s severed head, clearly a gruesome spectacle, illustrating the price of treason and murder. Shakespeare uses the word blood 42 times throughout the play. Infants and children. Children are frequently referenced, though hardly seen, in the play. Their innocence is frequently contrasted with the guilty meditations of Macbeth and other characters.
Lady Macbeth provides the most graphic example, making an analogy to her level of commitment: “I have given suck, and know / How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me: / I would, while it was smiling in my face, / Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, / And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this” (1. 7). Natural Order/Great Chain of Being. The ‘unnatural’ replacement of Duncan by Macbeth disturbs the natural order of the royal lineage. Those in Shakespeare’s time valued the divinity of the king, i. e. the king’s preordained selection by God.
Thus, by unnatural replacement of the king, Macbeth has invoked the wrath of greater beings. Nature is disturbed and thrown into turmoil: horses cannibalise each other, and a small owl kills a regal falcon. Insomnia. Sleep is referenced several times through out the play; Duncan is murdered in his sleep, while his guards sleep. Following the murder, Macbeth states, “Sleep no more! /Macbeth doth murder sleep, that innocent sleep,/Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care… (2. 2). Indeed, following the crime, both Macbeth and his wife are cursed with insomnia and sleepwalking.
These seem to be tangible expressions of each character’s guilt. Fear of sleep might also represent Macbeth’s fear of his inevitable death. Masculinity, Femininity, and Gender Ambiguity. Shakespeare shows in the play a connection between masculinity and violence, as well as ambition. Lady Macbeth goads Macbeth on to treason by saying, “when you durst do it, then you are a man” (1. 7. 48). Even more explicit is her early soliloquy: “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! The “here” plainly refers to her genitals, although few modern actresses can bring themselves to make that obvious. The women of the play manipulate Macbeth into doing their bidding. The witches awaken Macbeth’s ambitions, and then Lady Macbeth drives Macbeth to kill Duncan. Moral Ambiguity. The witches, servants of the devil, and their dark prophecy steer Macbeth through the play. Early on, they set an overall tone of moral uncertainty with their chanting. The evil in Macbeth grows throughout the play. In the beginning he is reluctant to commit murder, but it slowly becomes easier for him.
At the turning point of the play Macbeth says, “Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er. ” (3. 4. 164-165) He has decided it would be just as easy to keep killing and murdering as it would to repent and turn back. Conflict and Opposition. The play is full of contradictory statements, beginning with the witches’ conversation in Act 1: “When the battle’s lost and won,” (1. 1. 4) and “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”, (1. 1. 12)I. Macbeth’s first line in the play is: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen. ” (1. 3. 38) Shakespeare’s portrayal of Macbeth’s world is a confusing and chaotic one.
This mirrors the moral dilemma involved in the plot to kill the King, and Macbeth’s own indecision. Internal Struggle. In the first two acts of the play, Macbeth struggles with morality and ambition, trying desperately to reconcile the two. After Act 2, he struggles instead to reconcile with his regicidal ‘new self,’ finally failing in the task and falling into utter moral darkness and abandoning all optimistic perspective. His former greatness decays until his “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” speech, which shows he has given up on all hope of self-reconciliation.
Deception: Deception is the heart of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. Everything revolves around what seems to be; however, the truth does not emerge until the end when all deceptions are revealed. The witches and Macbeth use the tools of deception to cloud the issues and move the play along leaving the reader to ascertain what is real. The Weird sisters set up the theme of appearance vs. reality with their opening lines “fair is foul, and foul is fair, /hover through the fog and filthy air” (1. 1. 12-13). These lines hint to the reader that people and events in the play will not be as they appear!
When the witches give Macbeth his three titles Thane of Cawdor, Thane of Glamis, and King hereafter (1. 3. 51-53) thoughts of suspicion arise. Will Macbeth try to achieve these titles or let things take their natural course? Banquo tries to be the voice of reason and portrays feelings of doubt in his lines: “That, trusted home, /Might yet enkindle you unto the crown, /Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But tis’ strange. / And oftentimes to win us to our harm,/The instruments of darkness tell us truths, /Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s/ In deepest consequence”(1. 3. 32-38).