Some Thoughts on Macbeth

In Macbeth one of the recurring themes is the relationship between what is perceived and what is real. Macbeth is duped into believing he can get away with murder. Macbeth doesn’t kill the king because he dislikes him; he does so because he feels he has to [as Lady Macbeth goads him and chastises his manhood] he is not about to have his manhood impugned in any way, but this proves to be a catch-22. He is coward if he doesn’t murder and will prove a coward when he murders, as he is tormented by his conscience. Shakespeare was well aware of the fact that “conscience does make cowards of us all.” I guess Macbeth didn’t get that memo. Remember back to when he ponders “if chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir.” This was a very intuitive revelation that came to him and one that could of saved him had he stuck to that philosophy, but it is not long after this that he writes home to his wife. Macbeth jumps the gun and promises to his wife regal implications without realizing that making a promise of this magnitude should not be done to someone whose modus operandi is “to catch the nearest way”. Lady Macbeth is the distorter of reality to Macbeth. She corrupts everything that is Noble in Macbeth. She is unlike her husband who “would’st thou holily”. She makes Macbeth perceive that killing the meek and virtuous King is the expedient thing to do when in reality it is a disastrously evil idea. Shakespeare was teaching us that even if you are able to plan the perfect crime, you cannot preserve a perfect conscience after the act. Macbeth laments how his mind has become “full of scorpions” and Lady Macbeth ends up abandoning her husband in what appears to be suicide. Who is the biggest coward now? Although the weird sisters prophesied his kingship, they made no mention of how secure or prosperous his reign was to be. They even indicated that no issue of Macbeth’s would ever rule Scotland; a point that Macbeth should have at some point considered. Macbeth realizes too late that indeed “to be thus is nothing” and he becomes both: thus and then nothing.

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