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Christopher Campbell A.P. English/Period 6 Final Test Essay Macbeth February 25, 1998 William Shakespeare was one of the greatest English writers of all time. Even though most of Shakespeare's plays were based on history and previous works, the way he wove them together with images and themes is what made him famous. One of his well known tragedies, Macbeth, is a perfect example of Shakespeare's literary genius. While the Three Witches of Macbeth's "Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble"(IV, i, 51) comes to mind as the most memorable line in the play, the Witches' exposition of "Fair is foul, and foul is fair"(I, i, 1) is a key line that Shakespeare uses to set the tone for this great tragedy. Shakespeare's genius at weaving intricate patterns of imagery and universal themes together gives Macbeth its unity of purpose as one of the great theatrical tragedies. The first image pattern Shakespeare presents to the reader in Macbeth is time. The first line in Macbeth is uttered from the First Witch: "When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?"(I, (, 1), as she inquires about when the Witches will "meet with Macbeth"(I, i, 1). Shakespeare further develops time as an image pattern by exploring the realms of prophesizing what is to come. This is first presented when Banquo stated to the Witches "if you can look into the seeds of time, and say which grain will grow and which will not, speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear your favors nor your hate"(I, iii, 6). Banquo heard the Witches tell Macbeth that he is "thane of Glamis....thane of Cawdor....[and he] shalt be king hereafter!"(I, iii, 5-6), and he asked the witches if he could be told his future. Lady Macbeth further realizes the future for Macbeth as king when she stated "I feel now the future in the instant"(I, v, 13), where she knows Macbeth could achieve the throne as king by murdering Duncan. ...read more.


The substantial image pattern of blood has been woven in as an integral part of the image patterns and themes of Macbeth. Macbeth's desire to become king serve as the basis for the theme of ambition found in Macbeth. It was Macbeth's ambition that drove him to become king through treasonous murder, causing his tragic downfall. Macbeth realized early in the play from the Witches that he "shall be king and thane of Cawdor"(I, iii, 7), which primed his ambition to become king. When he discovered he was thane of Cawdor, Macbeth commented on his ambitious "thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man that function is smother'd in surmise."(I, iii, 8) This is the first point in the play where Macbeth's ambition led him to consider the possibility of assassinating Duncan. Later, Macbeth pondered "if it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly: if the assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch, with his surcease, success; that but this blow might be-all and the end-all here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time, we'ld jump the life to come."(I, vii, 15) This consideration of murder led him say "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other."(I, vii, 16) Clearly, Macbeth's ambition was a driving force in leading him to commit murder. Another driving force in leading Macbeth to commit murder was Lady Macbeth's ambition. When she received word that Macbeth was thane of Cawdor, as prophesized by the Witches, and that they also told that he shall become king, she said "to catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it; what thou wouldst highly, that wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false, and yet wouldst wrongly win: thou 'ldst have, great Glamis, that which cries 'Thus thou must do, if thou have it; and that which rather thou dost fear to do than wishest should be undone.'"(I, v, 11-12) ...read more.


With the afflicted Macbeth as king of Scotland, the country becomes affected with a disruption of nature. When Macduff beheaded Macbeth and the throne was handed over to Malcolm, the affliction was lifted from Scotland. Evil is shown in Macbeth to infect individuals, like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, as well as whole nations. Shakespeare's development of evil as a theme in Macbeth effectively adds to the weave of image patterns and themes found in it. Shakespeare, in his literary genius, made Macbeth one of the great theatrical tragedies by effectively weaving together an intricate set of image patterns and themes. The use of the image patterns of time, sleep, night, fear, and blood create a powerful picture ever-present throughout Macbeth. By the end of Macbeth, the reader sees a Scotland where "the time is free"(V, viii, 82) after Macbeth is dead, that they should fear things that go bump in the night, and that blood and sleep are key and sacred element of human nature. Building upon these images, Shakespeare wields together the themes of ambition, fate and destiny, appearance versus reality, honor and loyalty, and evil. These themes tell the reader that ambition can be bad, fate and destiny are not what one expects them to be, things do not always appear as they seem, honor and loyalty are desirable qualities, and evil is like a disease that afflicts nature. By the end of Macbeth, the reader should have realized there is much more to it than the Witches "double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble"(IV, i, 51), as they should remember more importantly its images and themes Shakespeare presents, along with its perspectives on life, like this profound statement by Macbeth: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and the is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."(V, v, 77) The Macbeth Final Test Essay Campbell Page 2 ...read more.

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