James I of England and Macbeth

Topics: Macbeth, James I of England, William Shakespeare Pages: 3 (1161 words) Published: December 18, 2013

"Some say he's mad; others, that lesser hate him, Do call it valiant fury" (Caithness: Act 5, Scene 2) Consider Macbeth as a gothic protagonist in the light of this comment.

Although William Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' was written in a time before the introduction of the Gothic genre, it is fair to argue that he fits the role typically prescribed to Gothic protagonists. However, the question of whether he is 'mad' or shows actions of 'valiant fury' is a matter open to interpretation. Sickness and madness are common themes in Gothic texts, and it is arguable to suggest that as a Gothic protagonist, Macbeth is indeed driven to madness. Firstly, his repeated association with various supernatural elements in the play present him as being a character who is perhaps driven by his own mental manifestations; upon seeing a levitating dagger, Macbeth questions whether it is in fact "a dagger of the mind", citing the possibility of his "heat-oppress'd brain" being the factor behind this vision. However, while many Gothic protagonists are associated with elements of the supernatural, that is not to say that they are mad. For example, when Macbeth witnesses Banquo's ghost - "Never shake thy gory locks at me!" - it is perhaps fairer to argue that the ghost is a manifestation of his own guilt as opposed to an outright madness which possessed Macbeth. Those who argue that Macbeth is mad may relate his madness back to the notion of Gothic protagonists possessing an all-consuming passion or goal which they are determined to reach. In Macbeth's case, this desire is arguably his thirst for power and desire to kill the king. Some critics would refute this point, and argue that Macbeth does not harbour such a passion, and that it is the femme fatale-esque character of Lady Macbeth who taunts Macbeth with demeaning rhetorical language such as "Are you a man?" and "I would be ashamed to wear a heart so white"; there is certainly evidence to suggest that...
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