The Shakespearian play ‘Macbeth’ is one the four greatest tragedies,
encompassing witchcraft, crime and punishment, evil temptations,
guilt, remorse and above all, greed for power. ‘Macbeth’ was probably
written in 1606 when Shakespeare was in his early 40s. His other three
great tragedies had already been written, and his reputation was
established. King James ruled England, having assumed the throne when
Queen Elizabeth died in 1603. Aspects of ‘Macbeth’ seem to be
calculated to flatter King James. James was known to be a fan of
witchcraft and was also a descendant of the historical Banquo. The
vision of the line of kings that Macbeth sees in Act IV implies that
the Stuart dynasty (James' line) will continue to rule indefinitely.
At the time when Shakespeare wrote ‘Macbeth’, England had very
different opinions as to modern times. The role of women in society
was significantly low and they were much less powerful than men, who
held all public and political votes. There were distinct gender roles
and a women’s sphere of legitimate power was located in the home.
Women were not allowed to act on stage and so the presence of a
‘women’ on stage assuming control outside the domestic sphere was
striking. During Shakespeare’s time women were also thought to assume
power illegitimately through evil forces, which is why Lady Macbeth is
presented as an evil and cruel woman yet at some points, she is
portrayed as pitiful and pathetic. Many women were accused of being
witches and were also executed during the reign of James I.
Manhood in Macbeth is tied to ideas of strength, power, physic...
... middle of paper ...
... that one day his children would rule Scotland, Macbeth felt threatened
and ordered murderers to ‘butcher’ Banquo and Fleance. On hearing
about Macduff’s flight to England, another threat to his position
according to the witches’ was that no man of woman born could harm
him. This prophecy made Macbeth keen on fighting with Macduff.
However, Macduff proved that he could still murder and overpower him.
We can see that Macbeth is responsible for many crimes and how power
hungry he was. He has taken so many lives just to maintain his
leadership. In the course of the play, Macbeth repeatedly
misunderstood the guilt that he was suffering as being simply a matter
of apprehension. His characteristic way of dealing with his guilt was
to face it directly by committing more misdeeds and this of course,
only led to more insanity.
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