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Macbeth Essay, Research Paper

1998 07 December

William Shakespeare portrays honour as the theme in his play, nonetheless, the theme of dishonour is illustrated in many of the characters. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the theme of honour is displayed, however the theme of dishonour is also focussed. Shakespeare wants the play to be seen as honourable, but each of the protagonists are very dishonourable and disloyal. They each try to mask their disloyalty with acts of honour, but it is easily detected. The protagonists Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and Banquo share in portraying the theme of dishonour throughout the play.

Lady Macbeth is a dishonourable woman, which can be detected many times in the play. She preaches to her husband “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be/ What thou promis’d,” (1.5.14.15). Lady Macbeth says that she is willing to go against her king, just to get what she and her husband want. She also supports this when she tells her husband to come to her for help “So that I may pour my spirits in thine ear,” (1.5.25). With this she says that she will guide her husband through the murder. Critics also see the dishonour and disloyalty in Lady Macbeth. On critic said “Lady Macbeth is a disloyal ? woman,” (Jameson 191). As she promises her husband the throne, guides him through the murders, and through the view of a critic, Lady Macbeth proves to be a very dastardly and dishonourable person.

Macbeth, as does his wife, shows great dishonour and disloyalty. He first shows his disloyalty when he says “Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell/ that summons thee to

Karolidis 2

heaven or to hell,” (2.1.63-64). Macbeth is not at all phased by the murder he has committed because he will either go to heaven or to hell anyway. Macbeth also proves his disloyalty to everyone except himself when he says “The castle of Macduff I will surprise,”(4.1.150). Macbeth claims that he will willingly go to Macduff’s castle and take it even with his wife and child in it. He also shows his disloyal when he says of his wife when he learns about her death “She would have died hereafter,” (5.5.17). If Macbeth was any man at all, the death of his wife would have set him off as it did to Macduff. Macbeth portrays that he is a dishonourable man as he is not bothered after th murder of his king, is willing to attempt to seize Macduff’s castle, and is unaffected by the death of his wife.

Although the dishonour of Banquo is not as easily detected, it is just masked better as he just as disloyal as his counterparts. When it is said “To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,/ That hast no less deserv’d, nor must be known/ No less to have done so, let me infold thee/ And hold thee to my heart,” (1.4.29-32).

When he says “Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all/ As the weird women promis’d,” (3.1.1-3) he poves his disloyalty. He is jealous that Macbeth has gotten what he was promised, and he wants what he is entitled to. He also proves to be disloyal when he says “But the root and father/ Of many kings,”(3.1.5-6).

Karolidis 3

Banquo proves to be a dishonourable and disloyal man many times in the play, though he tries to mask it.

Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and Banquo prove to be very dishonourable and disloyal characters throughout the play. As much as these characters try to hide their disloyalty and dishonour, it is visible even through the mask. Lady Macbeth is perhaps the most dishonourable of the bunch, however Macbeth and Banquo fall a very close second and third. The theme of honour is focussed frequently in the play, but the underlying theme of dishonour is the base of the play.

Karolidis 4

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Jameson, Anna Brownell. “Macbeth.” Shakespearean Criticism. Vol. 3. Detroit,

Gale Research, 19

Bibliography

1998 07 December

William Shakespeare portrays honour as the theme in his play, nonetheless, the theme of dishonour is illustrated in many of the characters. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the theme of honour is displayed, however the theme of dishonour is also focussed. Shakespeare wants the play to be seen as honourable, but each of the protagonists are very dishonourable and disloyal. They each try to mask their disloyalty with acts of honour, but it is easily detected. The protagonists Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and Banquo share in portraying the theme of dishonour throughout the play.

Lady Macbeth is a dishonourable woman, which can be detected many times in the play. She preaches to her husband “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be/ What thou promis’d,” (1.5.14.15). Lady Macbeth says that she is willing to go against her king, just to get what she and her husband want. She also supports this when she tells her husband to come to her for help “So that I may pour my spirits in thine ear,” (1.5.25). With this she says that she will guide her husband through the murder. Critics also see the dishonour and disloyalty in Lady Macbeth. On critic said “Lady Macbeth is a disloyal ? woman,” (Jameson 191). As she promises her husband the throne, guides him through the murders, and through the view of a critic, Lady Macbeth proves to be a very dastardly and dishonourable person.

Macbeth, as does his wife, shows great dishonour and disloyalty. He first shows his disloyalty when he says “Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell/ that summons thee to

Karolidis 2

heaven or to hell,” (2.1.63-64). Macbeth is not at all phased by the murder he has committed because he will either go to heaven or to hell anyway. Macbeth also proves his disloyalty to everyone except himself when he says “The castle of Macduff I will surprise,”(4.1.150). Macbeth claims that he will willingly go to Macduff’s castle and take it even with his wife and child in it. He also shows his disloyal when he says of his wife when he learns about her death “She would have died hereafter,” (5.5.17). If Macbeth was any man at all, the death of his wife would have set him off as it did to Macduff. Macbeth portrays that he is a dishonourable man as he is not bothered after th murder of his king, is willing to attempt to seize Macduff’s castle, and is unaffected by the death of his wife.

Although the dishonour of Banquo is not as easily detected, it is just masked better as he just as disloyal as his counterparts. When it is said “To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,/ That hast no less deserv’d, nor must be known/ No less to have done so, let me infold thee/ And hold thee to my heart,” (1.4.29-32).

When he says “Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all/ As the weird women promis’d,” (3.1.1-3) he poves his disloyalty. He is jealous that Macbeth has gotten what he was promised, and he wants what he is entitled to. He also proves to be disloyal when he says “But the root and father/ Of many kings,”(3.1.5-6).

Karolidis 3

Banquo proves to be a dishonourable and disloyal man many times in the play, though he tries to mask it.

Lady Macbeth, Macbeth and Banquo prove to be very dishonourable and disloyal characters throughout the play. As much as these characters try to hide their disloyalty and dishonour, it is visible even through the mask. Lady Macbeth is perhaps the most dishonourable of the bunch, however Macbeth and Banquo fall a very close second and third. The theme of honour is focussed frequently in the play, but the underlying theme of dishonour is the base of the play.

Karolidis 4

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Jameson, Anna Brownell. “Macbeth.” Shakespearean Criticism. Vol. 3. Detroit,

Gale Research, 19


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