Tragic Circumstances, Social Pressures, and Flaws in Shakespeare's MacBeth

Tragic Circumstances, Social Pressures, and Flaws in Shakespeare's MacBeth

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The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare uses the genre of tragedy through the inclusion of distinctive elements of tragic circumstance, social pressures and flaws within the individual’s character. Shakespeare manipulates these features of a tragedy to evoke audience interest leaving responders with insightful thoughts about human nature such as the dangers of vaulting ambition, the fragility of human morality and the temptation of deviation from the natural order.

Early in the play, Shakespeare portrays different representations of Macbeth’s ambitious nature and personality to responders through the use of effective dramatic techniques. We initially hear that Macbeth fought “Like valour’s minion” reinforcing his bravery in the war against the threat to Duncan’s regime. The simile equates him to a God like force, consolidating his reputation and accomplishment as a noble thane. However, Shakespeare creates suspense by foreshadowing Macbeth’s betrayal, “No more that Thane of Cawdor shall deceive”. The use of dramatic irony is present, as the vanquished, “Thane of Cawdor” was a traitor implying that Macbeth could become an enemy of the state. It alludes to his subsequent corruption as the temptation of power depletes his morality. Flaws in Macbeth’s character are further emphasised throughout and after the witches’ prophesise to Macbeth and Banquo about their future kingship. “…ignorant of what greatness is promis’d thee”, extracted from Macbeth’s letter to Lady Macbeth. The connotations behind the word “promis’d” signal Macbeth’s lack of understanding about the witch’s prophecies revealing that human beings are susceptible to manipulation when obsessed with the outcomes. Although the witches’ prophecies had been fulfilled before,...


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...ntain his promises but more lethally, Lady Macbeth’s implication that she is more so a man than Macbeth. Shakespeare reveals to the audience the results of temptation and deviation from the natural order, as responders are filled with a sense of dread as he succumbs to Lady Macbeth’s manipulation and represses his conscience.

From the above, we can see Shakespeare’s manipulation of tragic elements and dramatic techniques to convey insightful messages to the audience. Messages which forewarn the dangers of vaulting ambition, decline of human morality and temptation from peers, insight which applies to all audiences regardless of time. As a result, we experience through the third person perspective the consequences of corrupt human emotions being triggered through impacts from external forces, leaving responders with the thought “What’s to be done?” [Act 3 Scene 2].

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