Macbeth – Crime Essay
Macbeth by William Shakespeare’s tells of Macbeth, a courageous warrior who is initially held in high esteem by many noblemen, and his gradual decline into evil after he is given a prophecy which foretells him becoming king, resulting in his killing of the king to satisfy his ambition. Shakespeare utilises a number of dramatic techniques in order to portray the issue of crime as being counter-productive though the decline of Macbeth’s character, and the various effects it has on other aspects of his life, including Scotland’s public opinion of him and the negative effects it has on his wife, Lady Macbeth. The audience’s initial impression of Macbeth, before he commits the crime of regicide, is that of a brave and loyal warrior. When bringing the King of Scotland news of Macbeth’s heroic victories in battle, a Captain states, “For brave Macbeth – well he deserves that name,” showing that Macbeth is thought of as a valiant and strong man, who has earned a good reputation with high-up noblemen because of his strength in battle. He is also described as “Bellona’s bridegroom,” a metaphor which compares Macbeth’s unmatched skill on the battlefield to that of a partner to the Roman goddess of war. Duncan, the King of Scotland, refers to Macbeth as a “noble” and “worthy gentleman.” He is obviously held in high esteem by many noblemen, and the audience is given the impression that he will be a steadfast and respectable character throughout the play. The decision to kill Duncan follows a battle between Macbeth’s morality and ambition, which shows that he recognises the negative consequences of the crime he is about to commit. He considers what is perhaps the most important factor for him, that his life will forever after be endangered by committing such a crime: “We’d jump the life to come.” Here Macbeth shows knowledge of the fact that the possibility of an afterlife for him would be compromised, yet still he allows his ambitious nature to guide him towards killing Duncan. To the audience, this seems rather unwise, but it gives us an idea of how ambitious he really is; Macbeth is willing to destroy any chance of going to heaven, just to secure his place on the throne. He is also aware that by committing evil, he is inviting evil things to be committed against him: “This even-handed justice / commends th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice / To our own lips.” The “chalice,” mentioned here, is a metaphorical goblet which, by passing to those he wishes to poison, will eventually make its way back to Macbeth and he will be forced to take the poison himself. We can understand from this that Macbeth is concerned that by associating himself by evil and committing such an evil crime, in the end he will have to accept that any danger he experiences afterwards will his own fault. This statement is particularly insightful, and foretells Macbeth’s downfall. However, in addition to understanding the consequences of his actions, Macbeth recognises that his sole reason for killing Duncan is his ambition. After considering what his fate will be after killing the king, he adds that he has, “no spur / to prick the sides of [his] intent, but only / Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself / And falls on th’other.” He has no viable reason for commiting regicide; no “spur” to encourage himself with. Continuing this horse metaphor, he goes on to say that he can only count on his desire to become king to guide his toward committing such disgraceful crims; his “vaulting ambition”, which extends even beyond its own intrinsic limits; “o’erleaps itself.” The fact that Macbeth recognises that he has no principled reasons for killing the kings, and understands the immorality of the crime he is about to commit is rather surprising. Although at this point she doesn’t realise the true extent of the repercussions of the murder, he does understand that he will associate himself with evil and its surrounding danger: the fact that he still...
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