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Macbeth: Power Is The Paradox

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Macbeth: Power Is The Paradox

People have a hard time getting what they want; in fact, the things they want can be incompatible with each other. In Shakespeare's Macbeth, the protagonist is lured to murder the king, Duncan, by the desire for power, an appetite honed by witch's prophecies and his wife's encouragement. But when he reaches the kingship, he finds himself insecure. He attempts to remove threats that decrease his security, including his companion Banquo and his son Fleance, predicted to be king. His lords grow angry and revolt successfully, after witches lure Macbeth into a false sense of security by further foretelling. In
Macbeth, we see that, despite appearances of contradiction, man's goals of comfort and power are forever opposed in increment, though the two may decline together. The power from knowledge causes discomfort. As often has been said, ignorance is bliss. After Macbeth is promised the throne, Banquo asks why
Macbeth is less than ecstatic. "Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear /
Things that do sound so fair?" (Act I, Scene 3) Macbeth's new knowledge makes him uncomfortable, as he realizes the implications. His first thoughts considering murdering Duncan appear, and he is scared. After he commits the murder, Macbeth says, "To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself." (Act II,
Scene 2) Knowing that has committed such a vile act makes him uncomfortable. It will be difficult to act innocent and to deal with his guilt. When he later decides to murder Banquo and Fleance, he tells his wife, "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, / Till thou applaud the deed." (Act III, Scene 2)
Hecate sets Macbeth up for his final fall. The security provided by the second set of predictions is only short-lived. Feeling there is no threat to his power,
Macbeth acts wildly, bringing his downfall and loss of both comfort and security.
The problem with knowledge was that it was power resulting in a decline in comfort. Those most comfortable have the least power. The enjoyment of security prevents strength. The Porter delivers an ironic speech on the evils of drink, explaining, "Lechery, sir, it provokes and unprovokes: it provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance: therefore much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him and disheartens him; makes him stand to and not stand to; in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and giving him the lie, leaves him." (Act II, Scene 3) While drink may cause comfort, this is
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