Macbeth Research Paper
In Shakespeare’s lifetime he wrote many plays. Many of them were critically acclaimed and others cast aside. The crowd always wanted to be more thoroughly entertained and Shakespeare always tried to keep up with the people’s needs. In 1605, Shakespeare was being hounded for another work of genius. Hamlet and King Lear had just been completed and the people wanted him to write more. He didn’t know what to write and like many playwrights, he did research. He found two stories from Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Shakespeare had already taken ideas from Holinshed for his plays like Henry IV and Henry V. William decided to combine the reign of Macbeth and the murder of King Duff by Donald and his wife, altering both to suit his needs. Macbeth is the shortest play that William Shakespeare wrote. The main reason why this is so is not because Shakespeare did not have much to say, but because King James was so impatient. Macbeth was written basically for the king. In fact, the emphasis on witchcraft was because King James so heavily believed in sorcery. Shakespeare worried very much about the evil powers insulting the king. After all was said and done, Macbeth was another barrier to be broken in the great scheme of performances. It was an instant classic. King James and the court loved it along with England. No offenses were made from Malcolm needing help from England. Shakespeare had feared that James would be offended. From that moment on Macbeth would be known by all. Yet the people begged for more and hoped Macbeth would be out done by another astounding play. Shakespeare wondered how such a task could be accomplished. What was it about Macbeth that made it loved by everyone? Shakespeare’s style has been analyzed by many and some still can not figure it out. His poetry has influenced his plays immensely. Apart from the fascinating characters of the two leading roles, the play’s chief attraction is it wonderful poetry. Scarcely a word is wasted, and vivid images tumble after each other in a stream of color and ideas. Shakespeare put great thought into what he wanted to write and his feelings expressed themselves through the stylistic devices of tone, characterization, and symbolism. Shakespeare’s characterization of Macbeth exonerates the impact he had on the play. The tone in Macbeth remains sinister and depressing throughout the play. Symbolism, on the other hand, kept the tragedy in tact, and if understood, revealed the whole play in the very beginning of her pages. The character of Macbeth profoundly effects the play, by means of transpiring his actions to hurt others. If looking at the characteristics of good and evil, it makes the reader wonder what makes a person good or evil. Evil is not born into people, but it is the only option they have left. Three features we have seen stand out clear in the general conception of Macbeth. There is his eminently practical nature, which is the key to the whole. And the absence in him of the inner life adds two special features: one is his helplessness under suspense, the other is the activity of his imagination with its susceptibility to supernatural terrors…His practical power develops as capacity for crime…his mind is as scorpions; it is tortured in restless ecstasy. Suspense has undermined his judgment and brought on him the gambler’s fever…The third feature in Macbeth is the quickening of his sensitiveness to the supernatural side by side with the deadening of his conscience…In the reaction from the murder of Banquo the supernatural appearance-which no eye sees but his own-appears more real to him than the real life around him. And from this point he seeks the supernatural, forces it to disclose its terrors, and thrusts himself into an agonized vision of generations that are to witness the triumph of his foes. (Moulton 335-337) Moulton knows what he is talking about. Macbeth was heavily influenced by supernatural forces. In fact, were it not for them he might be living a happy and content life. The witches had a profound affect on him. He soon found himself in a world where he wanted to know more and more and the weird women were the only ones who could satisfy his hunger. Macbeth went from a man who served everyone but himself to a man who served only himself. The one thing that Macbeth had that meant the most to him was his wife. Lady Macbeth is his world. For a man who shows so much hate, gives a lot of love. They are one of the greatest pairs of lovers that ever existed. There is a spot where the reader can obviously pick up the dramatic change Macbeth went through. “Seyton: The queen, my lord, is dead. Macbeth: She should have died hereafter; There would have been a time for such a word “(Shakespeare, Act V, Scene V). His wife, his love, his world had died and he did not even care. The way he just disregarded her lets the readers know that he is a changed man, and not for the better. His desire to be unstoppable and all powerful was what killed him. His ambition clouded his once clever mind to where he could not look past the apparitions prophecies. From the very first words, the tone reveals itself as drab and murky. It is thundering and lightning in the very beginning and rainstorms automatically give the readers an eerie feeling. A.C. Bradley states Darkness, we may even say blackness, broods over this tragedy. It is remarkable that almost all the scenes which at once recur to memory take place either at night or in some dark. The vision of the dagger, the murder of Duncan, the murder of Banquo, the sleep-walking of Lady Macbeth, all come in night scenes. (Bradley 266) Bradley is merely stating that the atmosphere remains uniform. There are a few places where the dreary mood is blanketed by things that appear to be happy. When Macbeth arrives home, Lady Macbeth seems so enthusiastic to see him. Her excitement is truly genuine, but beneath her happiness is a plot of deceit and murder. Lady Macbeth: Your face, my thane, is as a book, where men may read strange matters:-To beguile the time, look like the time; bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it. (Shakespeare, Act 1, Scene III) She is telling him that his face can easily be read and that he needs to act like normal, but underneath to be cunning. This passage takes an almost cheery moment and takes it back to a world full of betrayal. Another place where gaiety is almost achieved is toward the very end of the book. “Malcolm: We will perform in measure, time, and place: So thanks to all at once, and to each one, whom we invite to see us crowned at Scone” (Shakespeare, Act V, Scene VII). All seems merry, but if thought about it, the reader can easily see that trouble awaits. Malcolm has just defeated Macbeth. However, he did not do this all on his own. He had help from England in the defeat. England would not send troops in to help fight a war for nothing. They would soon try to recapture Scotland. Therefore, the “happy ending” is not really going to end “happily ever after.” Through foreshadowing, Shakespeare was able to give the play a deeper meaning. Foreshadowing was used in the very first scene. The three weird sisters in Act 1, Scene III, were discussing about someone whom they were going to place a curse on. “3 Witch: Sister, where thou? 1 Witch: A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap” (Act 1, Scene III). This sailor is referring to Macbeth. Macbeth was at first the Thane of Glamis, which represents the sailor of a ship. The witches later go on to describe what they do to the sailor. 1 Witch: I’ll drain him dry as hay: Sleep shall neither night nor day Hang upon his pent-house lid; He shall live a man forbid: Weary seven nights, nine times nine, Shall he dwindle, peak, and pine: Though his bark cannot be lost, Yet is shall be tempest-tossed. (Shakespeare Act I, Scene III) Macbeth was literally being drained dry as hay, “Macbeth: And, with thy bloody and invisible hand, cancel, and tear to pieces, that great bond which keeps me pale” (Shakespeare Act III, Scene II). He often complained how he never slept. He had insomnia and it had all started the night he had killed Duncan. “Macbeth: Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house: “Glamis hath murther”d sleep: and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more”” (Shakespeare Act II, Scene II). Shakespeare used foreshadowing in most of all of his plays. There are also many who believe that Macbeth and the Bible are related to one another. Paul N. Siegel says Macbeth resembles Adam in being suggested to evil by demonic forces, in the deliberate choice of evil which seems good, in his desire to rise in the scale of being, and in susceptibility to wifely logic. Thus his characterization is universalized and made applicable to every man. Evil in Macbeth is given the same wide reference by the protagonist’s linkage with Judas, Lucifer, and Saul. Macbeth is like Judas in that his victim, Duncan, is a Christ-figure overflowing with love and grace; in his welcome at Dunsinane to Duncan as being reminiscent of Judas at the Last Supper; and in the earthquake and eclipse that accompany the crucifixion of Christ and the murder of Duncan. (Monarch Notes 4) In my opinion, I never would have thought about Macbeth and the Bible relating to one another, but everyone has their own opinion. Symbolism played a very important part in Macbeth. Blood, for instance, was very key in it. Duncan’s blood on the Macbeth’s hands is a symbol of the evil crime they committed, the guilt of which cannot be washed away. Macbeth’s curse, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red” (Shakespeare Act II, Scene III). “Lady Macbeth: Out, damned spot! out I say!…yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him” (Shakespeare Act V, Scene I). The guilt of Duncan’s murder, although more present in Macbeth at first, has grown in Lady Macbeth until she began having the same insane visions of her hands getting bloodier and bloodier not ever coming clean.