I remember the day in sixth grade when we wrote letters to Santa. We wrote about what we wanted for Christmas, and gave three reasons that explained why we should have it. We were trying to persuade Santa that we deserved the Christmas gift of our choice. After writing that letter, every time someone mentioned persuasion, I thought back to the letter. I thought that I had learned everything there is to learn about persuasion from writing that letter. After all, what could be more of a learning experience than trying to convince Santa to build me an international space station, and then having the teacher tell me it was very persuasive? After reading and analyzing William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I now realize that yet again, I understand so much more about persuasion than I used to. This unit in Language Arts 9 definitely did wonders to teach me about persuasion. Through learning about “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I have come to understand, better, a whole new perspective, or angle, of what persuasion is. No longer is it a fuzzy idea of a letter to Santa in my head. I have discovered that persuasion is, in fact, a very powerful tool that can help people to achieve many things, both good and bad, and have learned the tips and tricks that make persuasion more effective.
Persuasion is convincing others to do what you think. It is a “[p]rocess aimed at changing a person's (or a group's) attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s)...to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them”. Before reading Macbeth, I thought that this was all there was to persuasion. I did not realize that to fully comprehend a definition or idea, I could not just turn to a dictionary for the answer, but had to explore, through different situations and experiences, the significance and effects of persuasion. As a result, I thought that persuasion was simply convincing, to get you what you want. When I heard the word persuasion, things like the letter to Santa, advertisements, political leaders, persuasive essays, and facts to convince my parents to buy me something, came to mind. In earlier studies, that was all it was: writing persuasive essays and designing advertisements. In life, political leaders persuade people to vote for them, and us children persuade our parents for a pet and a new gaming system or electronics (or at least tried to). As I grew older, with more experiences in life, I saw that collecting donations for an organization or to help others in need is also a common form of persuasion. To me, persuasion was something people did to possibly sway someone’s decision, choices, or opinions, for doing good for the world. I thought persuasion was something that benefited everyone involved in the situation: the persuader, the persuaded, and anyone else affected.
Is persuasion really as wonderful and honourable as the majority of people in today’s society think it is? After reading “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I can see that persuasion isn’t quite as optimistic as I thought it was before. There is a side to persuasion that I previously didn’t know existed. After seeing Lady Macbeth persuade Macbeth to kill the King and the persuasion that led to Banquo’s murder, and both the persuaders’ motives behind it, my views about the morality of cases of persuasion have changed greatly.
In 1.3, we learn that although Macbeth wants to be King, he doesn’t quite want to kill King Duncan to achieve this. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth is determined to have Duncan killed, but she doesn’t want to commit the murder, herself. To persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan, she accuses Macbeth of being unmanly and a coward, in 1.7. Macbeth was sitting on the fence of whether or not he should murder Duncan prior to speaking to Lady Macbeth about it, when Lady Macbeth used her persuasive words and insults to pull Macbeth over into the world of treachery. In 3.1,...