Themes Used By Shakespeare In The Play Macbeth Essay Examples
The play Macbeth is the shortest one of the Shakespeare’s tragedies and consists of just 1,993 lines. But the brevity of this tragedy does not have any impact on its artistic and compositional merits. In this work, the author raises the question of the destructive influence of one-man rule and in particular the struggle for power that turns the brave Macbeth from a noble and celebrated hero into an all hated villain. It is terrible to see how a brave old warrior who was not afraid to look directly into the face of death, now clings to his earthly existence due to the dreadful fear of the afterlife. And yet, despite of the disgust that we feel as the result of Macbeth’s crime, we cannot deny feeling sympathy for him too. Shakespeare wants to show in his drama that the struggle between the good and the evil in this world is done by the will of the Providence.
In Macbeth Shakespeare also raises an important sociopolitical and moral-ethical problem of his time: how can virtue compete with the royal will, and whether the ruler has to defend his personal interests or to serve the state and his countrymen. Titanic personality of the Renaissance period degenerated during its spiritual crisis not only into extreme individualism and individualistic religion, but also into the idea of a strong, domineering personality which is able to create a unified mighty empire. Macbeth is the type of a ruler of the protestant-bourgeois epoch. In the image of Macbeth Shakespeare links willfulness of a tyrant with the freedom of protestant-humanistic personality that seeks to subordinate the whole world to its will.
Another theme which can be observed in this tragedy is the theme of retribution. Fair punishment falls on the criminals and villains; it is a binding law of Shakespearean drama, a kind of manifestation of his optimism. His best heroes die often, but the villains and criminals die always. In Macbeth this law can be witnessed particularly vividly.
In all his works Shakespeare pays special attention to the analysis of an individual and society, both separately and in their direct interaction. He analyzes the sensual and the spiritual nature of human interaction and the agony of feeling, diverse mental states of a person in their movements and transitions, the emergence and development of affects and their destructive power. Shakespeare focuses on turning and crisis states of consciousness, on the causes of spiritual crisis, which can be external and internal, subjective and objective. Exactly this internal conflict and human tragedy is the main theme of Macbeth.
In the tragedy Macbeth Shakespeare gives the most complete characterization of an individualist as a personality, consciously and consistently putting everything that expresses his own interests above the interests of the people around him. Macbeth is overwhelmed by an ambitious passion and hurries to get rid from moral principles and everyday rules, considering them a nuisance, empty prejudices. He is full of violent energy, his strong initiative does not have any limits; he rushes to the goal overcoming obsessive doubts without the fear of risk, and crushes the obstacles without choosing the means. But no matter to what extend the protagonist is free from prejudice, he still feels remorse, he is scared of the bloody shadow of Banquo who was murdered by him. But Macbeth continues to move forward; he does not even think about the retreat, the main character is struggling to suppress the voice of his enemy, in order not to weaken his own willpower. External conditions provoke Macbeth’s ambitions, promote moral degeneration and temporary triumph. In Macbeth individualist plays a central role. Individualism leads to the appearance of an opposite theme which is the theme of the interests of society as a whole. In this play Shakespeare shows the conflict between the two opposing views on human nature the most openly.
An important role in the play and in the disclosure of its distinctiveness plays the concept of nature. The concept of nature had multiple meanings in the language of the Renaissance. Nature was the whole material world, including humans. But the nature also merged with the whole world order. In Macbeth nature means succumbing to the lowest instincts; good and noble people forget about the mindfulness and conform to the evil in their nature. The conflict of the two sides of human nature is expressed in Macbeth with great force.
It is believed that this tragedy was written by Shakespeare in 1606. Wishing to flatter James who was the king at that time and who was fond of theater, the playwright turned to the legendary history of Scotland to find a plot for his new play. In the tragedy, the author strongly exalted the character of the unjustly murdered Banquo who was an ancestor of the reigning monarch from the Stewart dynasty. In previous versions of this story Banquo was one of the Macbeth’s companions in the regicide. Shakespeare turned him into an ideal man who is faithful to duty and friends, so that his high moral dignity made him a scary creature for Macbeth.
In the absence of the true facts, Shakespeare used half folk, half literary legends of older times. It is believed that Shakespeare was not actually interested in the real Macbeth from the very beginning. For this reason, people who know the history of Scotland well enough, state that there are many discrepancies between the events described in Shakespeare’s play and historical facts.
In this tragedy, we can observe how consistently is reflected the realization of the point that all people are a part of the universe. Despite the fact that Macbeth was written more than four hundred years ago, questions and problems raised by Shakespeare in this great work are as important and of current interest today as they were in the seventeenth century. Probably, that is the main reason why this play remains so popular for many years.