Compare and Contrast Essay on King Lear and Macbeth

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Shakespeare had written many plays in his life time, some of them included various tragedies which included King Lear and Macbeth. All of Shakespeare’s plays had a theme which was used to help the story’s plot to advance further, making events much more interesting. King Lear and Macbeth both have a common theme of madness that is apparent throughout the play which has been depicted differently. They are both written in different ways but still share a same purpose. The essay will be broken down into three parts; firstly we will look at the way madness is viewed in Macbeth. Secondly, we will look at the way King Lear portrays madness lastly we will compare the two to see how differently madness is displayed. While both plays share this similarity, the plays differ by the way the theme of madness is executed.

In Macbeth, both the main characters Macbeth and Lady Macbeth begin to show clear signs of madness through alterations in their physical senses.(smell, sight etc.) this is evident when Lady Macbeth hallucinates that her hands are still covered in king Duncan’s blood despite having washed then several times.

Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. (Act 5, scene 1, 46-47)

Shakespeare uses imagery to give a better understanding of what is going on within the characters mind. Here madness is altering Lady Macbeth’s sense of smell and sight, this tricks her into believing that King Duncan’s blood will never dissipate from her hands even though they are perfectly clean. Another example of the theme of madness that is characterized by Macbeth is found in act three, scene four, the climax of the play. Immediately guilt ridden from ordering the murder of Banquo, Macbeth reaches his pinnacle of madness; exemplified by his delusion of Banquo's ghost. Showing that he can no longer differentiate between reality and his imagination Macbeth shouts,...
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