The Theme Of Corruption In "Macbeth".
Corruption can be defined as a negative force that affects individuals profoundly. An individual’s response to the struggle of corruption causes drastic impacts and outcomes that determine who you are as an individual. In the tragedy of Macbeth, the author, William Shakespeare, illustrates how a hero starts with a high virtue thane who gets praised and honored by the king and later deteriorates to a character full of guilt and suffer as the play develops. Temptation and ambition can be seen as two significant sources of corruption, but we are the ultimate deciders to choose whether to satisfy those attractive appearances of temptation that might seem fair for us, or to listen to our conscience before we act. As a common saying goes “we are our own worst enemy,” assuming we have the power to destroy who we are or choose to live upon a blessing life.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, witches can be transformed in a form of temptation as their constant use of ambiguity in speeches with Macbeth misleads him to become obsessed of kingship. Witches predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and later king. Macbeth’s evil ambition grows when he is appointed by the king Thane of Cawdor and later Malcolm is appointed the prince of Cumberland. He fantasizes the thoughts of murdering because he knows himself is getting further away from the kingship that he needs to act on his ambition to achieve power, for he says “ the Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies.” The soliloquy implicitly depicts the negative effects of the prophecy on Macbeth’s mindset as he indulges in thoughts of murder in his mind. Macbeth has a free will to ignore what has been said by the witches, but he is unable to recognize the “instrument of darkness” as he assumes he will be the king and immediately fills himself malevolence to Malcolm in his mind.
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Macbeth is not only influenced by the prophecies of witches throughout the play, he is also being manipulated entirely by his power hungry wife, Lady Macbeth, who portrays a stronger ambition for Macbeth’s kingship than Macbeth himself. For instance, She calls upon the evil spirit to “unsex” her in hopes to obtain manliness that she needs to kill Duncan when she states “come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty.” She criticizes Macbeth by questioning his manhood and threatens him by violating her deepest nature of woman when Macbeth is in a denial to act and follow her plan to kill the king. Macbeth has a free will to “proceed no further in this business” rather than being influenced by his wife but he is incapable to do so when he declares “I am settled and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat.” The statement suggests Macbeth becomes corrupted by the pressure Lady Macbeth exerts on him that he is willing to act against his conscience to become a murderer. Macbeth has free will to stop this tragedy to further develop, but he would rather listen to his wife’s conspiracy which exemplifies how a false decision can crush a person down.
As the play progresses, we discover that Macbeth’s change in behavior to his wife and his surroundings is the major reason why he becomes indifferent and murders many innocents. Macbeth continues to develop his wickedness after he seizes the crown. His development in wickedness can be revealed through the change in behavior to his dear wife when he decides to kill Banquo and Fleance without informing Lady Macbeth and keeping her in a state of complete ignorance. Compared to the initial murder of Duncan when Lady Macbeth takes significant control over her husband’s masculinity and play a dominant figure in persuading her husband to fulfill her ambition, she ultimately is left behind as she is being rejected by Macbeth to tell the “deed” in an indifferent way. Macbeth has free will to clear his mind, regain his conscience and abandon the evil spirit that dominants his thoughts, yet, he becomes irreversibly wicked due his increasing relation to darkness. Macbeth appears to be furious when he hears Macduff has fled to England and he expresses his anger by killing Macduff’s entire family, such killing involves only personal reasons which is far more severe and shameful compare to the murder of Duncan because having to murder someone who is vulnerable and has done nothing wrong is the evilest and cruelest thing to do.
Individuals’ choices of action are extremely important factor in determining who we are. In the play, Macbeth, the protagonist has free will to choose between getting corrupted through various temptations and ambitions or listening to his or her conscience. Macbeth, eventually choose to become corrupted as he is influenced by three witches when they create thoughts of kingship into Macbeth’s mind and misguide him into thinking about murder. He is also being influenced by Lady Macbeth ‘obsession of killing the kings, Duncan, and this eventually causes him to kill Duncan an as the consequence he changes from an honorable hero to a bloody murderer. Macbeth’s change in behavior is an example of how corrupting influence allows him to become corrupted even more later on in the play. This reveals the idea that corrupting influences can ultimately lead an individual to his own destruction, especially if this individual lacks the will power integrity to act according to moral values.