Power In Macbeth By William Shakespeare

3274 words - 14 pages

Power is something that is sought after by many people. Not everyone desires power, but the people who do will often go to great lengths to attain it. Some people desire power because they have a lust for superiority. Other people simply want to satisfy an overinflated ego. Whatever the reason is, the ambition for power can at times consume an individual. Some people can become so obsessed and desperate that they will even go against their moral principles to achieve power. They will commit acts that they never thought they would commit and they will turn into corrupt and evil human beings. In the end, they learn that their lust to achieve power only resulted in disaster. They try as hard as ...view middle of the document...

There are many elements and scenes in the play that detail Macbeth’s ambition and madness. One such scene is the opening, which features the three witches. This scene is meant to establish the main character’s susceptibility to the thought of achieving power. The witches say to Macbeth “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.51). At the start of the play, the audience perceives Macbeth as a valiant man and soldier, but once the witches tell him of the prophecy, Macbeth is shown as power-hungry and his intentions come into question. The audience wonders what this honorable soldier is willing to do to get what he wants, and they also wonder why he is so obsessed with what the witches tell him. He even demands the witches to stay and explain themselves, saying “Stay, you imperfect speakers, tell me more. By Sinels death I know I am thane of Glamis, but how of Cawdor? The thane of Cawdor lives” (71-73). Macbeth later tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, about the witches’ predictions, and this brings another depiction of the ambition for power.
Later in the play, when Lady Macbeth learns that her husband is destined to be king, the audience learns that she is in fact more ambitious than Macbeth himself. Lady Macbeth desires her husband to fulfill the prophecy almost immediately after hearing of it. When Macbeth comes home, she tells him to murder Duncan so he can take the throne. When Macbeth is unsure if this is a good idea, she questions his manhood and makes him feel inferior. Lady Macbeth states, “Art thou afeard, to be the same in thine own act and valour, as thou, art in desire? Wouldst thou have that, which thou esteem'st the ornament of life, and live a coward in thine own esteem, letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would'” (1.7.39-44). In this quotation, Lady Macbeth is expressing her concern and disappointment over her husband’s reluctance to murder Duncan. It has already been established that Lady Macbeth is a manipulative and deceitful person, and this is reiterated in this quotation. She is afraid that her husband is too ethical and moral to go through with Duncan’s murder. She believes that Macbeth has no evil or wickedness within him to be able to commit the act. She also says that Macbeth lacks ambition to be king. After reading this quote, readers learn that Lady Macbeth is willing to do anything to get what she wants, regardless of the consequences. She controls her husband and tells him to kill Duncan, but when Macbeth shows uncertainty about this decision, Lady Macbeth speaks of his reluctance and even calls him a coward later in the story. In this quotation, Shakespeare is making a commentary on how people can be easily controlled or influenced. By showing Lady Macbeth’s concern over her husband’s refusal to kill Duncan, Shakespeare is giving the impression that she will manipulate Macbeth into doing what she wants for the purpose of achieving power.
This scene relates the idea of masculinity to the idea of power. It is...

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