Power and Greed: The Driving Force behind the Story of Macbeth
The rise of an individual and the gain of power can often be intoxicating. This control placed in the hands of one can often ignite thoughts and actions of greed found deep inside. This can often be seen in the history of civilization as countless leaders have neglected the good of their people to fuel their own selfish desires. Lord Acton once expressed, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is embodied in the play, Macbeth by William Shakespeare as numerous characters abuse power to manipulate and destroy the lives of many. Though the examination of, Lady Macbeth, the three witches and Macbeth, it becomes apparent how the gain and loss of power corrupted them majorly.
Lady Macbeth’s power over her relationship with Macbeth corrupts her thoughts and actions as it becomes apparent in her savageness, ability to conceive her emotions and change in character as she loses power. When Lady Macbeth comes in power, her actions become very corrupt as she becomes more savage. This can be seen when Lady Macbeth receives a letter from Macbeth saying that he has been fated to become king by the three witches, Lady Macbeth immediately intends on killing the current king, Duncan as she expresses, “that my keen knife see not the wound it makes” (1.5.52). This shows how her power over Macbeth has made her resort to such savage acts to help her husband attain the throne. The power Lady Macbeth holds in her relationship also corrupted Lady Macbeth’s actions as she was able to better conceive her thoughts and actions to appear but a mere innocent lady. This is seen numerous times but especially after the murder of Duncan has been announced. In the scene, she is able to expertly fool the nobles into thinking she has gone into a state of shock as she learns of the news, “woe, alas! What, in our house?” (2.3.86-87 ) Lady Macbeth then faints and is carried away. Not only does her line express the corruption that has come upon her but also how she was able to act very convincingly as she later fainted. Lady Macbeth’s actions seem to be very conceiving while she holds power and it is evident that the power given to her corrupted her highly as her actions and roles would begin to change as she lost power. In contrast to her ability to conceive her emotions and actions prior, Lady Macbeth seems to take on a different, more traditional woman’s role as she loses power over Macbeth. This is apparent when we look at Lady Macbeth’s thoughts of Macbeth before and after she had power over him. When the audience first meet Lady Macbeth, her views on Macbeth are very unusual as she looks down on her husband as she describes him, “I fear thy [Macbeth’s] nature, is it too full o’the milk of kindness to catch the nearest way.”(1.5.16-18) This shows how Lady Macbeth seems to think she is better than her husband, which is very unusual for a woman to do in the time that the play was written. However once she loses power over Macbeth, she seems to follow Macbeth instead of guiding him as she expresses how she has been neglected from Macbeth: Nought's had, all's spent,
Where our desire is got without content:
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy. (3. 2. 4-7)
This shows Lady Macbeth’s change in spirit as she has realized that she no longer has control over Macbeth. With this soliloquy, Lady Macbeth slips into the typical Shakespearean role of a woman as she no longer tries to do such corrupt acts. Further evidence can be shown that Lady Macbeth has switched roles as she is suddenly perceived as weak as she sleep talks and has many night horrors. This loss in power ultimately leads to her suicide. Therefore, after seeing Lady Macbeth’s actions between when she had control over Macbeth and when did not can lead viewers to believe that it was the culprit that corrupted her.
The witches’ possession of knowledge corrupted...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document