In Macbeth, Shakespeare uses motifs and themes in his writing to highlight significant points and messages throughout the play. In the tragedy, Macbeth, a once valiant solider, gets promoted to thane but his ambition to be King runs too far after the witches’ prophecies show that he will become king one day. Macbeth eventually becomes king by killing Duncan and his best friend as he turns violent, insane and greedy for absolute power. Using the motif of temptation, Shakespeare portrays violence, insanity and greed through Macbeth in order to show the consequences associated with absolute power’s corrupting nature.
By describing Macbeth’s violence towards others as a result of his ambitions to become king, Shakespeare demonstrates that power can cause people to commit evil actions. Although not written, Shakespeare implies that Duncan encountered a gory death to show how controversial Macbeth is willing to be in hope of gaining power. Macbeth says, “I go, and it is done. The bell invites me./ Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knell/ that summons thee to heaven or to hell” to demonstrate that he is ready to end the life of a man who once regarded Macbeth so highly in order to be king of Scotland (II. i. 75-77). Even though Macbeth does not kill Duncan when he is in power, the ambition to gain that power convinces him to commit the evil act. By foreshadowing the gory death of King Duncan, Shakespeare clearly believes that violence is often an outcome of unrestrained power. Likewise, Shakespeare shows the extent to which Macbeth will go to obtain power through the killing of Banquo. Even though Macbeth did not kill Banquo himself, Macbeth has an enormous part to play in the murder of his best friend. In order to kill Banquo and keep his position as king safe, Macbeth acquires some murderers to kill Banquo for him so that he would not be blamed for the killing:
And though I could
With barefaced power sweep him from my sight
And bid my will avouch it, yet I must not,
For certain friends that are both his and mine,
Whose loves I may not drop, but wail his fall
Who I myself struck down. And thence it is
That I to your assistance do make love,
Masking the business from the common eye
For sundry weighty reasons. (III. i. 134-142)
By describing Macbeth’s plan to kill Banquo after he becomes king, Shakespeare obviously believes that the corruption of power often leads to unnecessary violence. Overall Shakespeare uses Macbeth’s evil actions to show his disdain towards the corruption of power.
Shakespeare uses Macbeth’s insane scenes in order to display his scorn for power by demonstrating the consequences associated with absolute power. Shakespeare uses Macbeth’s hallucinations of the dagger and Banquo in order to show that power can cause people to lose their minds. Macbeth talks madly to the dagger as he is prepared to kill Duncan in order to obtain the position for himself:
Come, let me clutch
I have thee not, and yet I see thee...