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Tragic Circumstances, Social Pressures, And Flaws In Shakespeare's Mac Beth

1058 words - 5 pages

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, they are not of a definite nature; however, Macbeth understands them as unbreakable, inevitable promises, fuelling his vaulting ambition and grants Macbeth the senses of invincibility. To responders, Macbeth’s vaulting ambition and gullibility are seen as character flaws which begin as Macbeth’s own, internal influences. In this way, Shakespeare cautions responders across a range of contexts to the dangers presented by excessive ambition, poisoning one’s ability of unbiased judgement.

The nature of guilt and fear are universal human attributes that inform the characterisation of Macbeth and encourage us to reflect on issues of conscience that remain relevant across time. Macbeth’s ignorance to the assassination of Banquo “Banquo, thy soul’s flight / If it finds heaven must it find out to-night” invokes the use of rhyming couplets which function to emphasise Macbeth’s acceptance of murder. This signals to responders the horrifying result of Macbeth’s moral decline, suggesting notions of conflict in character personality. Macbeth’s attempt to feign comfort in Lady Macbeth also reveal no signs of conscience as “we have scoth’d the snake, not killed it,” illustrating Macbeth’s ability to disregard the moral implications...

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