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To what extent is Macbeth wholly responsible for his ruin, which destroys not only himself and other individuals, but also disrupts the divine unity of Scotland?

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Macbeth Anna 11W To what extent is Macbeth wholly responsible for his ruin, which destroys not only himself and other individuals, but also disrupts the divine unity of Scotland? From the instant Macbeth stabs Duncan he can never rid himself, those close to him and the 'Divine Scotland' of the multitudinous scenes of carnage. Macbeth is the darkest and most brooding of all Shakespeare's texts, from his first encounter with the witches he plummets into a world of ruthless ambition, murder and an ongoing nightmare until his final, untimely however inevitable fate of destruction and demise. In order to understand how Shakespeare intended his audience to react to and interpret the themes in the play and on whom he intended the blame for the disruption to be placed, I must analyse it from a number of different aspects. I must firstly gain an understanding of Jacobean themes to help me to understand the audience's reaction and also observe the beliefs surrounding supernatural activities at the time. Especially those of James I, the King at the time as it is widely known of his strong beliefs that Shakespeare would inevitably be aiming to satisfy. My essay will quantify the extent of the damage Macbeth's actions caused at different stages of the history of political Scotland and will analyse his thinking which displays such psychological themes displayed as a ruler/husband/warrior. Also, looking at the stagecraft from the era and also the modern day interpretation of the play in the form of a film (Roman Polanski, 1971, VHS CC7519, Columbia Pictures), the structure and dramatic devices. The proposition of being King obviously proved too powerful an allure for Macbeth, his overriding inhibitions played on his conscience and under the events of the story, a underlying force and mysterious emotions/convictions drove the characters towards their actions. It is undisputed that Macbeth caused himself, those around him and Scotland a great deal of destruction. ...read more.


Macbeth's fate is at once clear as Macduff says 'Within my sword's length set him, if he scape, heaven forgive him too'. It is soon after this that we hear of Lady Macbeth's suicide, Macbeth has lost his best friend, supporters and most important of his entire moral supporter and folie a deux partner, surely he can't pull through now? However, he still appears to have some sort of lack of fear and a continuing determination to remain victorious. Nearing the end of they play, when Macbeth admits 'I have lived long enough. My way of life has fallen to the sear, the yellow leaf...As honour, love, obedience...'. When informed of the English force, that is fast approaching his castle, Macbeth still appears calm and collected, 'Fear not Macbeth, no man that's of woman born Shall e'er have power upon thee'. He seems unaffected by the invasion threatening his home; 'Go prick thy face, and over-red thy fear, thou lily-livered boy...soldiers, whey-face?'. However, when informed by a servant that 'I looked towards Birnam, and anon methought the wood began to move', Macbeth starts to show fear as he realises this could be the end. Having slaughtered many men, Macbeth gains a new confidence and then proceeds into the castle courtyard to challenge Macduff - of whom he has no fear. That is, until Macduff informs Macbeth 'was from his mother's womb untimely ripped'. Macduff then kills Macbeth and axes off his head. Finally, Macbeth has gained his comeuppance and landed at the bitter end that he deserves. However, it wasn't just unto himself that Macbeth brought this fear and destruction, he also disrupted divine Scotland and made it into a country swept with fear and murder. The political system is completely overthrown by Macbeth's fight for control, Thanes and lineage to the throne fled the country and anyone that stayed was restless and put their own lives and their families lives in danger. ...read more.


I think that the witches are responsible for the proem of these ideas and for emphasising ideas in Macbeth's head but can't be blamed for his actual actions. The witches are very persuasive when they encounter Macbeth and talk in very enticing and suggestive manner. The witches are a physiological force as opposed to a physical force. They know, from their great intelligence what Macbeth's ambitions would be and they simply use their evil mannerisms, add temptation and add 'atmosphere' to their chants in order to make them appear more supernatural. Due to the hidden ambitions any man in Macbeth's position is bound to posses and the encouragement posed to him by the scheming witches, Macbeth is given the 'ammunition' he requires to go about with these awful actions. The witches use a lot of repetition every time that they appear in the play which shows how they emphasise and 'drum' their evil prophecies into Macbeth's thoughts. This repetition is demonstrated when repeat 'Fair is foul and foul is fair' and then (I, iii, 38) is seen to repeat that phrase, proving that their ideas are already starting to creep into Macbeth's ideas and thoughts, 'So foul and fair a day I have not seen'. They appear to foretell the future and posses supernatural knowledge -convincing Macbeth that they are correct and persuading him to be more ambitious for himself? 'All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis...Thane of Cawdor...that shalt be King hereafter!'. Having listened to the witches and (stupidly?) informed his wife of their prophecies, Macbeth has murdered Duncan and now he has sparked his evil voyage of destruction. Macbeth effectively starts to rely on the witches due to his insufferable guilt. He revisits them, does this mean that he relies on them to carry out his actions? He needs the witches to instruct him what to do next? Shakespeare portrays the witches as evil beings and gives them a supernatural feeling about them. ...read more.

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