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The intensity of this tragedy is dependent on whether the witches or Lady Macbeth are perceived to be able to control the otherwise innocent actions of Macbeth, or if he is entirely responsible for his own demise.

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Introduction

The intensity of this tragedy is dependent on whether the witches or Lady Macbeth are perceived to be able to control the otherwise innocent actions of Macbeth, or if he is entirely responsible for his own demise. The play, Macbeth, is littered with aspects, issues and ideas that would undoubtedly suggest that the play was indeed written to please King James, who was at the time, patron of Shakespeare's theatre group. One of these themes deals with witches who James was quite unashamedly interested in; so captivated by the supernatural in fact, he wrote a book on the subject; Demonology. Although not a "secret, black, and midnight hag" (Act 4.Scene 1. Line 48), as an evil female, Lady Macbeth could be considered a witch according to the standards of Shakespeare's day. In the same way that witches subvert the natural order of religion and society, Lady Macbeth subverts the order of the sexes and the family by trying to have more power than the head of the family, her husband. Not only does she act out of order, but also several of her actions imply that she is actually witch-like. Firstly, it was widely believed in Europe, for centuries, that sorcery could cause impotence. In the preface of Demonology, King James I asserts the power of witches to weaken "the nature of some men, to make them unavailable for women". A major textbook for witch hunters, Malleus Maleficarum, describes how witches are able to make men impotent, or even make their penises disappear. ...read more.

Middle

she is determined to aid her in her plot to overcome her husband's reluctance and to force him to kill Duncan. Although seeming devotedly loyal, she rejects her subordinate role as wife and asks to be transformed "...into an instrument of death whose cruelty transcends the limitations of her sex and of her mortal nature". This shows that it isn't Macbeth she is loyal to but her own ambition. Finally, the fact that she works with the Weird Sisters to influence Macbeth suggests that she is at least indirectly allied with them. Extending this theme she seems almost haunted by the power that is possible. Women aren't usually associated with cold-blooded murder, and are often associated with the maternal mercy and love. Her chants would indicate that she will actually commit the murder herself when she says "That my keen knife see not the wound it makes," and until only moments before the King is slain, the audience are led to believe that Lady Macbeth will carry out the crime. Her rather pathetic excuse for not killing the king with her own hands is that he had "resembled my father as he slept," and she couldn't murder him. I think that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are similar in the respect that they always need a "honourable" excuse to murder, to "validate" their crime. For example, Macbeth is always happy to cut someone from the "knave to the chaps" on a war field, though he cannot kill a sleeping man without a legitimate justification. ...read more.

Conclusion

Duncan seems to be the Christ-like figure who is betrayed by one of his followers, Macbeth or (Judas Iscariot). Nature is a rich source and provides much of the imagery (Macbeth is almost like a pet of the witches, as well as the theme of natural order). Imagery based on Appearance and Reality, Manliness, Light and Darkness, Disease, Corruption and Blood is also common. Others that might be explored might be that of clothing and sleep. The one I will concentrate on is inversion, this is shown at the very beginning of the play and is continued throughout, " Fair is foul, and foul is fair; hover through fog and filthy air" This describes the whole play. The killing of Duncan starts an unstoppable chain of events in the play that ends with the murder of Macbeth and the suicide of Lady Macbeth. Macbeth chooses to murder Duncan. Macbeth, in the beginning had all the qualities of an honourable gentleman who could become anything. This is all shattered when his ambition overrides his sense of morality. For most of Shakespeare's contemporary audience, Macbeth would appear to be at the mercy of the witches and therefore not entirely responsible for his actions. In my opinion, it is easier to muster sympathy for a person who is not entirely to blame for their actions. In the case of Macbeth, the tragedy is more successful if the popular seventeenth century mentality is adopted and thereby the witches and Lady Macbeth are made partly to blame for his downfall. James Trebilco To what extent is Macbeth persuaded by the witches and Lady Macbeth in his bloody deeds? - 1 - ...read more.

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