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How does Shakespeare demonstrate the power of the mind in Macbeth?

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Introduction

''How does Shakespeare demonstrate the power of the mind in Macbeth?' Macbeth is a play famous for murder and its references to blood. It is usually associated with bad luck and evil; however, there is one main issue that appears time and time again throughout the play - what is it that drives the characters to do the things that they do? Shakespeare explores and presents the power of the mind in many interesting ways. These include soliloquies and slight changes in characters such as the way they talk, act or present themselves. The main character affected by the power of his mind is, of course, Macbeth. What happens in his mind basically provides the plot for the whole play. Once the witches have told Macbeth that he will be king he can either choose to ignore this piece of information or do something about it to make it come around faster. Macbeth chooses to do the latter and he kills the current king, Duncan. Lady Macbeth becomes so caught up in the series of events and excited at the prospect of being Queen that she urges Macbeth on, encouraging him to fulfil his apparent destiny and become King. In the end, the way that Macbeth presents himself and talks is completely different to the character we are introduced to at the beginning of the play. This is all due to the effect his mind power has over him. We also see changes in Lady Macbeth's character such as paranoia and slight changes in the way she talks and thinks. The first evidence we see of mind power is in Act 1, Scene 3 where Macbeth meets the witches. ...read more.

Middle

Act 2 Scene 3 is the morning after the murder. In this scene Macbeth shows a variety of different emotions so it is difficult to tell what he is feeling about the murder. Also, what Macbeth says in this scene is quite ambiguous so it is quite hard to figure out what he means. When Macbeth says 'Twas a rough night' it could either mean that he is shocked by the night's events or that he fears being found out. And when Macbeth says 'Had I but died an hour before this chance I had lived a blessed time' it is relatively easy to see that he feels guilty and regrets the murder. Another change in Macbeth's speech is that his statements seem to be shorter and more formal. This suggests that he is on edge and is worried about being found out. In this scene, Macbeth also decides to start acting secretly, and does not communicate his plans with Lady Macbeth - 'Be innocent of the knowledge ... 'till though applaud the deed'. Another major demonstration of mind power in the play is when Macbeth conjures up the image of Banquo's ghost at the banquet in Act 3, Scene 4. Thinking about why Macbeth is so tense and anxious when he enters the room helps you to understand how his mind could have conjured up the terrible image of the ghost. Macbeth is obviously worried and guilt-ridden about Banquo's murder, he says 'I had else been perfect ... but now, I am bound in to saucy doubts and fears.' Banquo was Macbeth's best friend, and Macbeth had ordered him to be killed. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, many of Macbeth's speeches are filled with threats, evil and darkness. Mind power plays a large part in Macbeth's character - having already thought of the kingship, he was really only waiting for confirmation from someone else before acting on his thoughts. Lady Macbeth also plays a major role in the tragedy. She becomes obsessed with the news she is sent by Macbeth, and immediately hatches a plan to achieve the goal. Her speeches, not dissimilar to Macbeth's, are also full of darkness and double meanings. When Macbeth backs down and is not so sure about the plan, she taunts him until she finally persuades him to continue. It is also Lady Macbeth who takes the knives back down to the servants after the murder and tried to make everything normal again. Lady Macbeth is greatly affected by her mind, which we see particularly in the sleepwalking scene where she continually washes and rubs her hands in an attempt to scrub away what she believes to be Banquo's blood. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a great man. After meeting the Weird Sisters he begins to make bad choices and gets everything wrong. The effect the three Witches have on Macbeth's subconscious mind is astonishing - they make him see things, hear things and do things he doesn't really want to do. Along with Lady Macbeth, the Witches' taunting and riddles possess Macbeth and turn him into a power-obsessed, ambition-crazed 'fiend'. However, Macbeth redeems himself at the end of his life and does not die as the villain of the play. Macbeth is a tragic hero - possessed by evil thoughts, but able to redeem himself by being brave enough to fight on to the end, even though he knows he cannot win back his sanity and/or peace of mind. ...read more.

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