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Corrupting Power of Unchecked Ambition
Transcript of Corrupting Power of Unchecked Ambition
by Ken Boddie and Daylon Bonner
When an actor on stage turns and directly addresses the audience
Macbeth is power hungry yet again and has ordered Banquo killed. Unfortunately, his hit-men botched the mission. Therefore, he still watches his back for an attempt on his life from Fleance in the future.
"Thanks for that: There the grown serpent lies; the worm that's fled Hath nature that in time will venom breed, No teeth for the present. Get thee gone: to-morrow
We'll hear, ourselves, again (Act III, scene iv, lines 29-34)".
A long speech by one character
While Macbeth is considering the deed, he contemplates the pros and cons of his involvement. He wants the power that comes with the crown but he is skeptical of the means of which to gain such power.
Act II, scene i, lines 31-65
Problems that arise during the story
Man vs. Society
Macbeth alienates all men who could have potentially been allies. He does this purely to retain his place on the throne as he feels threatened by all in his inner circle.
• After the witches tell Macbeth of their predictions, this marks the beginning of his developing lust for power when he is officially promoted Thane of Cawdor. “Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act Of the imperial theme. I thank you, gentlemen. This supernatural soliciting cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
Against the use of nature? Present fears are less than horrible imaginings. My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man That function is smothered in surmise, And nothing is but what is not” (I. iii. 130-145).
• Banquo quotes “Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all, As the weird women promised, and I fear Thou played’st most foully for ’t. Yet it was saidIt should not stand in thy posterity” (III. i. 1-4). He suspects that Macbeth must have done something to gain his title as king.
• This is where Macbeth plans on murdering Banquo since he now knows that his reign will be succeeded by someone with no kinship. “Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown And put a barren scepter in my grip, Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand, No son of mine succeeding. If ’t be so,For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind; For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered; Put rancors in the vessel of my peace Only for them; and mine eternal jewel Given to the common enemy of man, To make them kings, the seed of Banquo kings! Rather than so, come fate into the list, and champion me to th' utterance. Who’s there” (III. i. 64-75)?
• Macbeth clearly admits that he can take advantage of his power by plotting the murder of Banquo, despite their seemliness everlasting friendship. “So is he mine; and in such bloody distance that every minute of his being thrusts against my near’st of life. And though I could With barefaced power sweep him from my sight And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not, For certain friends that are both his and mine, Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall Who I myself struck down. And thence it is, That I to your assistance do make love, Masking the business from the common eye For sundry weighty reasons” (III. I. 119-129).
• Despite his background Christian faith, Macbeth desperately asks for the witches’ help and anticipations about his later reign with a lack of care of the results of the evil spells granted. “I conjure you by that which you profess—Howe'er you come to know it—answer me. Though you untie the winds and let them fight Against the churches, though the yeasty waves Confound and swallow navigation up, Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down, Though castles topple on their warders' heads, Though palaces and pyramids do slope Their heads to their foundations, though the treasure Of nature’s germens tumble all together, Even till destruction sicken, answer me To what I ask you” (IV. I. 50-63).
Macbeth displays corruption of power as he becomes fully consumed with expanding and keeping the power he gains by any means necessary. This includes killing King Duncan in order to bypass the natural order of succession to usurp power. He originally does not have this thought. However Lady Macbeth talks him into it, in turn showing how hunger for power has corrupted him. As the play progresses, Macbeth's power cravings become more and more deadly. He murders his best friend Banquo to prevent his heirs from overthrowing him. He then kills all of Macduff's family because he is told to be weary of Macduff. In his pursuit of power, almost no one comes to oppose Macbeth's agenda. This allows power to consume him and it completely destroys his moral judgement.
Protagonist who experiences disaster because of his flaw
Macbeth's mind is easily persuaded. The witches persuade him to believe that he will soon be King. His wife persuades to kill the Duncan and frame his guards. This tragic flaw makes his ambition dangerous. Furthermore, he he has no one their to check his ways so that he does not make rash decisions which could lead to his or his country's demise. He only has a corrupted conscience and a group of yes-man.
Act I, scene vii ... Act II, scene ii
Something that happens or is said that is unexpected
Macbeth new power as king is leading him to make questionable decisions about retention of power. He plays with Macduff's life like he is God and it is his to take. Yet again, no one openly stands against him and his efforts. He feels that he is immortal and there will be no one to oppose him.
"Then live, Macduff: what need I fear of thee?
But yet I'll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder."
Act IV scene i, Lines 82-86
Weakness of the tragic hero that brings disaster
Macbeth's mind can easily be swayed, especially if he will reap some gain from the change of heart. Lady Macbeth convinces him that the gain from killing Duncan will outweigh the consequences. At the same time, there is no one to check him, causing him to accept this as justified ambition without much hesitation.
Act I, scene vii
Something bad that happens / usually the climax
Macbeth's unchecked ambition leads to the demise of Macduff's family. He is fully invested in the apparitions set forth by the witches. He believes Macduff will make him lose power. In his mind, all against him must die.
Act IV, scene ii
Macbeth: A Lust for Power Pt. 2
A drama about a noble character with a flaw which creates a problem and usually ends in death
Macbeth and Lady Macbeth haves conspired and killed King Duncan. They have placed their incriminating evidence on the guards. They appear to have little to no remorse over their deed and seem to display a somewhat silent joy over not being discovered.
Act II, scene iii-iv
Development of characters
Malcolm characterizes Macbeth as a worse evil than Satan. He calls him a tyrant who openly abuses his power because he knows that no one will oppose his decision out of fear.
Not in the legions
Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn'd
In evils to top Macbeth.
MALCOLM I grant him bloody,
Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful,
Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin
That has a name: but there's no bottom, none,
In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
Your matrons and your maids, could not fill up
The cistern of my lust, and my desire
All continent impediments would o'erbear
That did oppose my will: better Macbeth
Than such an one to reign.
Act IV, scene iii, lines 57-66
Warnings of things to come
This displays how Macbeth has began to off those he sees as opposition to his place of authority. This foreshadows that either Macduff or someone of close relation to him meet an untimely death at Macbeth's hands.
"Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits:
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. And even now,
To crown my thoughts with acts, be it thought and done:
The castle of Macduff I will surprise;
Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o' the sword
His wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls
That trace him in his line. No boasting like a fool;
This deed I'll do before this purpose cool.
But no more sights!--Where are these gentlemen?
Come, bring me where they are " (Act IV, scene i, lines 144-156).
"Macbeth: A Lust for Power"
Throughout the text, Macbeth demonstrates a strong lust for power. According to the this article, Shakespeare presents Macbeth's lust through poetic and experimental values. With character thoughts revealed, new ideas regarding the theme, plot and actions play a significant role in the routine of this play. Believe it or not, most poets connect these human choices and values to the aspects of nature. Shakespeare uses great examples of imagery and figurative language to analyze how and why human beings reflect and deal with the world the way they do. In other words, nature can be considered powerful and controlling affecting the relationship with the pattern of human life. Therefore, the unnatural aspect symbolizes disorderly and corrupted human actions, best explained in Henry V's speech of Burgundy. Shakespeare himself thinks about the thoughts of man and nature as polar opposites, but equally effective and proportional. Even though the man's placement in nature remains unsolved, the distinction between good and evil in "Macbeth" can be discovered through the conepts of nature.
Historically one must discover good and evil through the works of nature. In all Shakespeare's texts, human decisions often determines the forces of nature, even its mood, and "he can respond creatively to its creativeness...find in nature a symbol for all that is natural in the other sense-that is, most truly human (Knights, 51). Therefore, when Macbeth takes authority as king, his evil actions contribute to the corruption of Scotland as a whole. His lusty attitude for more power creates a heavy loss of governance towards not just his subjects, but the entire kingdom of Scotland. In order to prove that nature fights back against Macbeth's lust for power, the term, "lust", must be "defined as the urge to possess something that in the experience inevitably proves mere loss, an overreaching into insubstantiality and negation" (Knights, 53). This describes Macbeth perfectly. Besides Macbeth, his wife, Lady Macbeth shows lust as well for masculinity. Remember that Shakespearean plays have Christian background, in which God punishes those of evil and corrupt behavior often using natural forces. With evil intentions placed within their hearts, "they surrender the characteristically human power of intellectual and moral discernment they themselves become 'prey' of 'Night's black agents,' of the powers they have deliberately invoked" (Knights, 55). Therefore, it is believed that Macbeth's actions lead to his tragic fate; the forces of nature has him captive through death.
More Mofit Quotes
" Lay it to thy heart, and farewell.' Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great; Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it ..." (Act I, scene v, lines 14-21)
"To-morrow, as he purposes. O, never Shall sun that morrow see! Your face, my thane, is as a book where men May read strange matters. To beguile the time, look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, But be the serpent under't. He that's coming Must be provided for: and you shall put This night's great business into my dispatch; Which shall to all our nights and days to come Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom. We will speak further. Only look up clear; to alter favour ever is to fear: Leave all the rest to me." (Act I, scene v, lines 61-74)
"We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it: she'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice remains in danger of her former tooth. But let the frame of things disjoint, both the worlds suffer, Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep In the affliction of these terrible dreams That shake us nightly: better be with the dead, Whom we, to gain our peace, have sent to peace ... " (Act III, scene ii, lines 13-20)
"Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, Till thou applaud the deed. Come, seeling night, Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day; And with thy bloody and invisible hand Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond Which keeps me pale! Light thickens; and the crow Makes wing to the rooky wood: Good things of day begin to droop and drowse; While night's black agents to their preys do rouse.Thou marvell'st at my words: but hold thee still; Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill. So, prithee, go with me ... " (Act III, scene ii, lines 45-56)
Macbeth's Psychological Condition: Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder is a serious mental condition often with unstable behavior and mood, which often affects the relationship with others around the person who has it. In most cases, these patients often experience depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, substance abuse and anxiety. The most likely cause include lifetime exposure to a negative environment with unstable family or friend relationships. These types of pressure can lead to one blaming oneself, for example. Some scientists believe that this disorder could be genetic based on a group of twins having the same disorders.
Symptoms that signal this order include but are not limited to extreme reactions, such as panic attacks or depression, intense relationships with loved ones, shamefulness of oneself leading to changes in opinions and goals for themselves, performances in dangerous behaviors, such as dangerous driving, unsafe sex, and violent behavior against others. The person may also experience sudden changes in mood and thoughts of suicide.
Borderline Personality Disorder is very difficult to treat; today marks the early stages of developing a better treatment for it. However, with professional medical psychological help, this illness can be improved over time. One of the best ways for now is psychotherapy, "talk" therapy, and it requires trusting the therapist. But psychotherapy can cover changing negative thoughts of the patient and reduce anxiety and moody symptoms and reduce suicidal thoughts.
Connecting back to Macbeth, he best demonstrates the symptoms through most of the play, especially during the dinner party celebration. He sees the ghost of Banquo with agony, panic and fear. His lust for power influences a hate relationship against former King Duncan and his best friend, Banquo, to the point he decides to use violence to snatch their lives for his own desire for power. Prior to all of this, it starts with his exposure to the battlefield he fought in and his hope for appreciation from the king. The witches predictions add on to his desire for promotion immediately, and he knows that he must use some type of force to achieve his goal, even if it requires evil to obtain it.
"Borderline Personality Disorder." NIMH RSS. National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.
Knights, L. C. "Macbeth: A Lust For Power." Some Shakespearean Themes. N.p.: Stanford UP, 1959. 39-58. Print.
Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Champaign, IL: Project Gutenberg, n.d. Print.