The Search For An Honorable Leader In Hamlet And Macbeth

1521 words - 6 pages

The Search for an Honorable Leader in Hamlet and Macbeth




Hamlet clearly defines a good leader in this passage in Hamlet; 


"Look here, upon this picture, and on this,

The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

See, what a grace was seated on this brow;

Hyperions' curls; the front of Jove himself;

An eye like Mars, to threaten and command;

A station like the herald Mercury

New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill;

A combination and a form indeed,

Where every God did seem to set his seal

To give the world assurance of a man." Act III Sc. IV


He states that an individual must attain the qualities: grace, leadership, well roundedness, and reverence. Using Hamlet's definition, Macbeth would be considered the exact opposite and in many ways the antagonist to Hamlet's assertion of honorable leader. Macbeth contained qualities that tarnished his prestige in the blink of an eye, and his lack of ability to process certain decisions he made revealed his innate character which was ultimately beheaded.


One of the most important characteristics for a prosperous leader to have is grace, which Macbeth knew nothing about. He was a war-hero, and was uninterested in what society perceived him to be. His superstition and dependence on the witches visions show his weakness as a character, and especially as a leader. His beliefs in the witches eventually lead him down the wrong path when he returns to the witches for another proclamation of their visions, which all are apparently true, but misunderstood by Macbeth. In the end, as the visions become reality, Macbeth realizes that he has failed to grasp a hold of the tangible aspects of his life, and was too concentrated on the unknown. He states in Act IV scene I, ""Tell me now, thou unknown power--Whate'er thou art, for thy good caution thanks; Thou hast harp'd my fear aright: but one word more." Leading up to this outburst, Macbeth had been speaking with the witches, and trying to persuade them to tell him that he would rule forever. This shows Macbeth's weakness, not acting with grace, he let his guard down to superstition, which is modern day philosophy is considered childish and everything short of acting with grace.


Macbeth's lack of leadership, and self-determination, peel the layers of his character to a bare boned coward. In the scenes where Macbeth is faced with life-threatening decisions, he hesitates to commit to what he believes to be right. This is obviously not the manner in which a true leader would act. In Act II, Macbeth has made his decision to go forth and murder King Duncan. While in the process of doing so, he is petrified, and contemplates whether or not he should proceed with his actions. This proves that he very untrusting of himself and the decisions that he made, thus, reinforcing his lack of a leadership persona. Throughout the play, Macbeth, we see that the...

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