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What prevents Macbeth from being nothing more than a story of a ruthless and ambitious murderer.

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What prevents Macbeth from being nothing more than a story of a ruthless and ambitious murderer The story of Macbeth on a purely literary level could be appreciated as a fantastically dark story teeming with evil and uncertainty and the blind ambition of a blood thirsty warrior. However one would have to merely scratch the surface to discover that it is bursting with periodical references to political and social foundations of Shakespear's and James I era. Shakespeare's blend of the subliminal political and social references compliment other ever present themes also woven into the plot resulting in a rich tapestry of intrigue that elevates the play from being just a totally fictitious story but also a historical document that reflect the fears and beliefs of people of the day. To describe Macbeth the character as nothing more than a ruthless and ambitious murderer would be a terrible misjudgement of his character. Macbeth is portrayed as the tragic hero which is defined by his sustained emotional conflict which at times boils over beyond self restraint and begins to contaminate others with his moral awareness. Macbeth's character and calibre are defined even before the audience meets him. In act 1 scene 2 Macbeth is showered in glory and honour acknowledging his finest qualities which he exercises on the battle field "alls too weak, for brave Macbeth"(1,2,15-16). Duncan echos a line similar to that of the witches in 1,1,67 "what he had lost noble Macbeth hath won"(1,3,67). ...read more.


He defies the ruthless and ambitious stereotype further by considering the consequences of murdering god's representative on earth resulting in angels " trumpet-tongu'd against the deep damnation"(1,7,19-20). Macbeth reaches his moral high ground momentarily only to be beaten into submission by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth exploits her husband's weakness. By putting into question his masculinity she can taunt him into committing these atrocities "when you durst do it then you were a man"(1,7,49). As a proud warrior Macbeth feels he must maintain his image and her respect for him. Immediately after the king is killed Macbeth is inconsolable with guilt and regret "I am afraid to think what I have done"(2,2,54). These feelings completely consume him. Macbeth had previously been hailed as a great warrior so why does he experience this moral conflict. In his soliloquy in act 1 scene 7 he depicts the king as being totally benevolent. Almost in the same breath he reminds Lady Macbeth of Duncan's great generosity "he hath honoured me of late"(1,7,33). It is in deed true that Duncan's character is almost saintly. On one level the play can be of tale of good verses evil, but alternatively it can be classed as an early example of propaganda. Shakespeare's plays were to be enjoyed by a wide cross-section of society but it was important that they received praise and patronage from the king James I. Shakespeare used Duncan's gracious attributes to flatter the king. James I had believed that he had inherited the divine gift of a healing touch. ...read more.


Macbeth begins to lose his mind almost instantly. Macbeth has his prize for the evil deed but he cannot appreciate it as he's consumed by remorse and trying to keep his head above water. The more people he kills to cover his tracks the more the evil is multiplied and he can increasingly feel that good is patiently waiting to punish him. It is abundantly evident that Shakespeare created a story that was infinitely more than the tale of a ruthless and ambitious murderer. Macbeth the man is a complicated individual capable of highly articulate outbursts born of a conscience that won't allow self forgiveness. Macbeth is a multidimensional man, courageous and brave on the battlefield but then unpredictable and fragile when confronted with emotional complication. The themes that Shakespeare included throughout the play have meant too much to anyone who has witnessed it for it to be packaged as just a story. In 1606 'Macbeth' would have been wielded as a political weapon defending the monarchy with regard to the Gunpowder Plot. At the same time 'Macbeth' would glorify all that is gracious and virtuous of monarchs as a result of Banquo's role model type example and Duncan's elevation to martyrdom. On a more personal level what one could say is that Shakespeare's greatest achievement is that his style and subject of writing is as relevant today as it is at any other point in history. 'Macbeth' the plot is about treason; but Macbeth the story is about human endeavour to do the right thing with conviction and the complete unravelling of our moral and mental fibre if we breach the breaking point of our own consciences. ...read more.

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