William Shakespeare's Macbeth

825 Words4 Pages
It is impossible to achieve happiness through actions that are motivated by greed and blind ambition. This is one of the numerous themes explored in William Shakespeare’s famed play, Macbeth, yet it is arguably the most relevant to modern society, which is so obsessively focussed on attaining an idealized vision of prosperity. The theme is illustrated most effectively in the conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth before the palace banquet, which shows that evil begets evil, guilt is a crippling burden, and acts of wrongdoing lead to a haunting fear of retribution. The story of Macbeth and his wife, who betray their country and their moral principles to elevate their status, serves as a cautionary tale to all those who believe that they can be content with success achieved at the expense of others.

In the talk between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth before the banquet, it becomes clear that evil actions facilitate the perpetration of more wickedness. For example, towards the end of the conversation, Macbeth appeals to the dark night: “Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond / Which keeps me pale!” (III, ii, l. 54-55). In this quotation, Macbeth calls on the forces of evil, represented by the dark night, to aid in the killing of his friend Banquo. He feels that Banquo is suspicious of his recent actions and is thus a risk to his exalted new status. In order to conceal the violent nature of his ascendance to power, Macbeth must perform increasingly desperate and violent actions, making it difficult for him to enjoy the benefits of his authority. So significant is Macbeth’s discontent with his position, that he prays for the death of one of his most loyal friends. Another example which proves that evil begets evil can be found im...

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... discovered to be a traitor, Macbeth becomes anxious and paranoid, which prevents him from attaining the happiness that he envisioned when he decided to murder King Duncan.

In conclusion, William Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, contains many themes, but none are more applicable to today’s society than the idea that happiness cannot be achieved through acts motivated by selfishness and avarice. The conversation between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth before their dinner feast successfully elucidates this thematic statement by illustrating how immoral actions give rise to more immorality, guilt punishes individuals for their crimes, and evil actions instill fears of retribution. In a world that is growing increasingly obsessed with individual achievement and prosperity, the tragic tale of Macbeth and his wife is vital to understanding the fallacy of these damaging ideals.
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