Macbeth: A King in Name Only
“I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself” (Pietro Aretino). Effective kings know how to rule themselves and their people. Throughout William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the protagonist shows that he lacks verity, or the ability to be truthful. Similarly, Macbeth is in need of stability. Finally, Macbeth shows that he lacks patience. The characteristics that Macbeth demonstrates in the play suggest that he is an ineffective ruler due to his lack of verity, stability, and patience, several qualities which Malcolm describes as required of an effective ruler.
Being truthful is a necessary and important characteristic for a ruler to be effective. A ruler who lacks verity will be challenged and others will not trust him. A ruler needs the support of his people and can gain their respect by being truthful. Throughout the play, Macbeth shows a lack of truthfulness to many people, including himself. When Macbeth finishes discussing the details of how he and Lady Macbeth will murder King Duncan, he leaves her by saying, “[Go], and mock the time with the fairest show: / False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (Mac. 1.7.82-83). Macbeth is telling Lady Macbeth to act like a welcoming and friendly hostess for their special guest, Duncan, while hiding her dark desires to kill him and take his rule over Scotland. Early in the play, this shows that Macbeth is very untruthful and wants other people to think the opposite of what he is thinking. This parallels the theme of appearance versus reality because Macbeth wants his wife to look like she is friendly and warm, but in her heart know her intentions of killing the king. After killing Duncan, Macbeth regrets his bad choice, but then lies when he is talking to Banquo about the witches’ prophecies by saying, “I think not of them” (2.1.22). This demonstrates Macbeth’s lack of verity because he tells Banquo that he is not thinking about the witches’ prophecies, but he...
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