Essay, Research Paper: Macbeth And Justice

Shakespeare: Macbeth

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Even though people in retributive justice feel satisfaction, the perpetrator can
also suffer. William Shakespeare’s powerful Macbeth shows the deterioration of
an honourable and respectable general, Macbeth, who becomes a tragic hero after
temptations from the witches and his wife to perform murders. Macbeth
soliloquies enable the audience to experience the conflict within Macbeth and
thus, gain an understanding of the reasons for his behavior and decisions. As a
result, the tremendous reversal of Macbeth’s fortunes in the end leaves the
audience filled not with pity, but also awe, at the realization that people can
suffer greatly. Macbeth’s soliloquies before the murder of Duncan shows the
vigorous internal struggle of himself, as his conscience is fighting against his
evil minds. Also, they shows Macbeth has brought his own downfall upon himself.
The audience will then feel pity about Macbeth’s deterioration brought by
himself when witnessing his choice of following the evil. Macbeth is a
courageous and honourable general in Scotland. His success in the battle against
the invaders of Scotland gains respect from the King Duncan and his fellow
soldiers. However, the demonic forces, symbolized by three witches, temptates
Macbeth. The witches hail Macbeth as the Thane of Glamis and Cawdor who will be
king and hail Banquo, who is a nobleman of Scotland and Macbeth’s friend, as
one who will become the father of a line of kings. Macbeth ambition deep in his
heart starts growing at that time. In Act I, scene iii, when Macbeth is thinking
about the fulfillment of the two prophecies given by the witches before,
"My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, shakes my single state of
man"(I, iii, 139- 140) In this soliloquy, Macbeth reflects his idea about
the "two truths" told by the witches. He is ambitious to become king,
as he reacts nervously when the witches mention his fate. The very idea of
murder "shakes his single state of man". However, at this! point, he
is loyal to the king, and he rejects the idea of murder, "If chance will
have me king, why, chance may crown me, without my stir."(I, iii, 143-144)
The predictions by the witches may have strengthened the criminal intentions
that he had probably never yet dared to express clearly, even to himself. He is
not alliance with crime, he is neutral, but obviously temptation is working upon
him. Yet, he might overcome the promptings of his evil ambition by an effort.
After the battle, Macbeth is greeted with effusive thanks by Duncan. Duncan then
announces that he will make Malcolm heir to the throne. In Act I, scene iv,
Macbeth in his aside states that this announcement is a bar to his ambition and
calls upon darkness to cover what he wishes to be done: That is a step on which
I must fall down, or else o’erleap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your
fires; let not light see my black and deep desires: The eye wink at the hand;
yet let that be which the eye fears, when it is done, to see (I, iv, 49-54) As
Duncan makes the announcement, Macbeth starts wondering if murder is the only
way in which he can achieve the kingship. His ambition overcomes his finer
nature. He calls upon the stars to hide their light, indicating that his
"black" desires comes out, and he thinks it is too evil to be seen.
Macbeth’s image of the eyes’ winking upon the work of the hand is expressive
both of his intense aversion to the deed and of his intense desire to get what
the deed will accomplish. At the same time his "let that be" marks the
point at which his fascinated contemplation of the thought of murdering Duncan
becomes a resolution, although he will waver from it. The opposition between eye
and hand is indicative of the civil war within him. In Act I, scene iv, shortly
after Duncan’s arrival to Macbeth’s castle, Macbeth gives voice to his
feeling concerning the rashness and the awfulness of the projected murder: If it
were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly. If th’
assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch, with his surcease,
success; that but this blow might be the be-ball and the end-all -- here. But
here, upon this bank and shoal of time, we’d jump the life to come. But in
these cases we still have judgment here. (I, vii, 1--8) At this point,
Macbeth’s character has fallen to the point where he has the desperate courage
to commit the murder, but is afraid of the consequences. He gives three reasons
for not performing the murder. First, it would be imprudent. Secondly, it would
violate the blood-tie of a kinsman, the allegiance of a subject, and the duty of
a host. Finally, he suggests that Duncan has been so blameless a king that to
kill him would be monstrous. He controls his ambition for the moment and
resolves not to kill the king. However, if he assures the safety during his
life, he would gladly "jump the life to come". Finally, Macbeth’s
wife, Lady Macbeth, reveals Macbeth’s weakness of his decision, by calling him
a coward without manhood and says that Macbeth does not really love her. Her
speech changes Macbeth’s mind, all his fears are vanished. He is then no
longer troubled by any sense of morality, and determines to proceed the murder.
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