Independence and Failure in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Independence and Failure in Macbeth

Peasants of the early sixteenth century are often pictured carrying a bundle of limbs tied with vines on their backs. This is a perfect metaphor for the events in Macbeth. Macbeth is one of many thanes, or limbs, bundled together. The thanes are united by the king, or the vine. Scotland, or the peasant, carries the bundle by the sweat of his brow. They carry the bundle for fires on cold nights, or wars, and to build homes, or castles, to protect them from the elements, or invaders. If the limbs are tied improperly, one limb may slip to the side and cause the peasant, or nation, to stumble or fall. If the limb slides completely out, the rest of the limbs may follow because the bundle is loose. Marriage is like a triangle. Each spouse makes up one of the leaning sides, and marriage the lower side. The three together are very strong, but to stand they all must be united. The longer a marriage is held the longer the bottom stretches, and the more dependent each person becomes on the other. If one side tries to stand on its own then the second will fall on the first as it tries to stand. This metaphor also excellently exemplifies the catastrophe that occurs in Macbeth as both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth try to separate. Macbeth is a eighteenth century play written by William Shakespeare. Using these two metaphors, the breakdown in the relationship between Lady Macbeth and Macbeth and between the king and the thanes and how they perfectly parallel each other because each is caused by Macbeth's will to be independent.

According to Webster's dictionary, the archaic definition of independence is "competence" (1148). To be independent is not to be "subject to control by others" (Gove 1148). This means that independence is to be in control of ones decisions and to feel they are good decisions. Macbeth, on the other hand, feels independence is to not be subordinate to others like the king.

To be independent, one must be strong. Inner strength, not physical strength, is needed. Inner strength is only accomplished by having a high self-esteem. Macbeth does not and must use others to reach for independence. Macbeth needs this strength: It [Macbeth] hurls a universe against a man, and if the universe that strikes is more impressive than the man who is stricken, as great as his size and gaunt as his soul may be he will fall.
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