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Mackbeth Essay, Research Paper
Often, a crime committed pins the accused as a villain, fully in control of his/her actions and aware of the consequences in forethought to this deed. E.A.J. Honigmann rebuffs this idea. After much thought and research on the thought processes and circumstances regarding King Duncan?s murder by the Thane of Cawdor, Macbeth, he tends to believe that Macbeth fell victim to outside forces and influences with which he could not compete. Allow me to elaborate and explain in the following paragraphs.
Indeed, Act 1 closes with a chant by the Three Weird Sisters who sing, ?Fair is foul, and foul is fair?. As we see, this theme will run through the play like a thread through cloth. Meaning that reality is distorted, and we can only surmise that these bearded ladies will add more disorder and chaos. As Banquo refers to them as ?Instruments of Darkness? we are left with an unsettling feeling about the true status of these beings and their control over mortals, more specifically, human minds.
Although Macbeth makes no official bargain with these ?emissaries of darkness,? he is still painfully solicited by their black magic. They hail him by three titles, his present, Thane of Glamis, his newest title, however unbeknownst to him, Thane of Cawdor, as well as King of Scotland. Ironic as it may seem, his wife, Lady Macbeth greets him with the exact same welcome, Thane of Glamis, Cawdor and King. Is it a coincidence? Or have the witches gone behind the scenes and manipulated Lady Macbeth to do as they command? Lady Macbeth asks in Act 1 scene 5 ?Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here?top full of dirtiest cruelty!? Is she not asking the ?instruments of darkness? to help her reach the same ends as the weird sisters? This joint attack directed at Macbeth from both sides makes it difficult for him to remain strong and stand beside his decisions. This could be compared to the imagery of a fly caught in a spiders? web: no hope of escape and impending doom closing in on all sides. It is also made obvious to us that while little time is spent with direct contact between Macbeth and the witches, their influences upon him and his mind are astounding. It seems too strikingly coincidental that after their prophesy telling how Macbeth will be crowned King, he sees a floating dagger leading him toward sleeping Duncan?s room. We also see super-natural sorcery with the appearance of Banquo?s ghost. If revenge from the grave was common, where was Duncan?s apparition? We have proof that the witches can manifest images as they revealed a line of future kings in Act 3 scene 5. Lady Macbeth brings forth imagery of her own in Act 1 scene 6 when she quotes ?I have given suck, and know how tender ?tis to love the babe that milks me?plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this?. This horrid imagery alone has the power to conjure up an immense feeling of guilt. ?When you durst do it, then you are a man?. Bradley quotes on this topic, Macbeth committed murder ?as if were an appalling duty?.
Perhaps the most sympathetic value of Macbeth is he is truly Christian at heart. Deep religious connections surface through out the play. Quotes such as; ?deep damnation?, ?me though I heard the grooms pray? and perhaps the most disturbing quote of all, ?I had most need a blessing ?? provide such evidence. Macbeth is his own greatest accuser. This Christian background is leaving emotions of guilt behind so to make it clear he was influenced by someone or something into committing this heinous crime.
The author of the responsive essay, ?On The Knocking At The Gate In Macbeth?, DeQuincey also shows sympathy for the murder. He too believes that Macbeth was under the influence of emotions outside the boundaries of his control. However, DeQuincy believes that the murderer, Macbeth, fell victim to his own ?raging storm of passion-jealousy, ambition, vengeance, hatred-which will create hell within him and into this hell we are to look?. Macbeth?s ambition and sense of ingenuity led him to murder Duncan. We sympathize with him only when it becomes apparent that his emotions are out of control.
Their opinions differ in that E.A.J. Honigmann is convinced that Macbeth was set up, by someone or something, to take that fall. That he himself was not in control of the happenings around, and that he fell victim of foul play from afar. DeQuincey, while he believes that Macbeth was a victim, he argues that he fell victim to his own emotions. His greed and ambition became too much for him to handle and soon enough he became an onlooker for there was nothing else he could do to stop the chaos that he had single handedly caused. This is how Macbeth fell victim to himself, and to no one else.
It is hard to point out a single reason for the actions of Macbeth. There are so many and the authors/readers viewpoints will rarely be the same. Never the less, I remain convinced that Macbeth was solicited, and that he fell victim not to his own emotions, but instead, to the dirty doings of the Three Weird Sisters and to fate. ?If fate will crown me King, than fate will crown me with out my stir.? These words were spoken from Macbeth himself. Does it not seem odd that this line of honest words can be spoken in Act 1, but before we get to the end of Act 2, Scotland?s bravest and most worthy Thane has turned against his King and forgotten the welfare of his own country? This should be a red flag to us that his mind was poisoned, from either the Weird Sisters, Lady Macbeth’s soliciting, or perhaps even both. We do not have just reason to hold this against Macbeth. Instead, we feel a need to sympathize with him, for this was as much out of his control as it was ours while we read.
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