Macbeth Comparative Essay

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The Power Couple
Macbeth Comparative Essay
Word Count: 1147

In Western culture today, it is a widely accepted fact that men and women have equal power in a marriage; whereas in Elizabethan times, a woman was dominated by her husband and she would have very little control over her life. The leading omnipotent couple in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth have a compelling marriage with a power dynamic that is beyond the boundaries set by society at the time in which he wrote the play. The directors Roman Polanski and Rupert Goold in their film adaptations of Macbeth, use contrasting paradigms of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and the power between the two that result in two fascinating interpretations of Shakespeare’s original characters. By comparing the characterization in the two works it is possible to develop an improved understanding of the power dynamics in Macbeth.

The portrayal of Macbeth in the films conceive two truly different perspectives on how power affects his character development. The mental deterioration of Macbeth drives the plot of the play and can be interpreted many different ways. In Goold’s rendition, an older actor is cast as Macbeth. Simply based off his appearance  the audience can understand that Goold’s Macbeth has a great deal of life experience and therefore, his decisions cannot be excused by the naive curiosity that is associated with youth. Without the witches prophecies or his wife’s insistence, he never would have taken the opportunity to murder Duncan and gain power. Rupert Goold effectively foreshadows Macbeth’s mental degradation by highlighting his impotence and dependence on others through the character’s age. Polanski takes a different approach, depicting Macbeth as a young man with a clean shaven boyish face. His decisions are a result of his blind curiosity, youthful ambition and the influence of Lady Macbeth. Throughout the film his decisions become more malicious and the guilt is expressed in his appearance. His eyes grow...
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