Macbeth 12 Essay, Research Paper
Banquo s warning to Macbeth was one of great wisdom. It reflected his rationalism, when the situation could have over-excited a lesser man. Unfortunately, the evil that was embedded in witches words was cloaked by their accordance with Macbeth s innate desires. His becoming Thane of Cawdor, as the witches said, served as a collateral for belief, and hence Banquo s warning fell on ears of dismissal to all but words of imperial progression. However true Banquo s words, they could not prevent the tragedy of Macbeth.
King Duncan was a virtuous leader, and his inferiors served through love. Yet when he crowned his eldest son, Malcolm, as Prince of Cumberland, the concoction of evil intent the witches had brewed and absorbed into Macbeth had its most lethal ingredient; a catalyst that assured reaction, and cultivated a complete abandonment of Macbeth s previous, honourable life, in favour of a selfish, bloody one. The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step I must fall down, or else o er leap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires.
Reason, upon a session of auto-interrogation, seemed to briefly return to Macbeth. We but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague th inventor, he conceded. In a rational state, he could see how entangled in this business he was, and how hard it would be to get back out. But, as if he shared a marital evil with his wife, Lady Macbeth encouraged him across the bloody river he was already approaching. Through intimidation, she made him believe that what he was doing was in their best interests, even if it did mean the end of a harmonious dynasty.
Lady Macbeth was a sly woman who was prepared to sacrifice stability, content amongst the population and the course of history to benefit herself. She had harnessed the power of being able to dramatically influence, if not control, the emotions of her husband. When Macbeth decided against murdering Duncan, her reaction was so violent that it was as if he had committed adultery. From this time such I account thy love.
I know how tender tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, have plucked my nipple from it s boneless gums, and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this. All of this, of course, was a cunning melodrama much more than it was the truth.
And so Macbeth had been convinced. Duncan and his guards were coming to Dunsinane, and Lady Macbeth had formulated a plan that, as long as Macbeth could screw his courage to this sticking-place, would not fail. She would make them all utterly drunk, so that when they were sleeping, Macbeth would use the guards daggers to kill Duncan. This would make it look as if they guards killed their King. The two hosts would feign sorrow, and let false face hide what the false heart doth know. It was a good plan in theory, but, although Lady Macbeth had mastered the art of manipulating others emotions, she had wrongly assumed that she could control her own.
Just prior to Macbeth doing the deed of killing his king, he met Banquo and his son Fleance in his castle s courtyard. In the coming days he would have wanted as many trusting allies as he could, and offered Banquo what was almost a bribe. If you shall cleave to my consent, when tis, it shall make honour for you.
But Banquo, although appearing respectful and loyal, was cautious. He would not lose honour in the process of trying to get it, and vowed to perpetuate his honesty.
The moment Macbeth killed Duncan, the extents of what he had done hit him. He had killed the King of Scotland, who had, with all his virtue, done nothing but good for the country. Duncan had honoured him with the title of Thane of Cawdor, on top of his already being Thane of Glamis. So devastated was Macbeth, that the daggers he used to kill Duncan were still in his hands when he met his anxious wife. He spoke of voices within his mind, List ning their fear, I could not say Amen , when they did say God bless us! He could not even bring himself to take the daggers back. I ll go no more. I am afraid of what I have done; Look on t again I dare not. Macbeth s conscience then, at least, was righteous, but it was easily overcome by his natural urge and aptitude for domination and power. He was a deadly and enviable warrior, capable of leading whole armies. In fact, it was for those reasons that he became Thane of Cawdor. He was aware of his potential, but saw that there was no conceivable road for him to the ultimate position of leadership. When Malcolm was named Prince of Cumberland, surely there was no other way the three witches prophecy could come true, without his own intervention.
Shortly after the completion of the deed, Macduff and Lennox arrived at Dunsinane, with intentions of waking their King from his sleep, unaware of its permanence. Soon they found him dead in his quarters, and the alarm bells are rung. When Macbeth went to see the Duncan with Lennox, he killed the two minders of the king, making it look as if it was them that committed the crime – Who could refrain, that had a heart to love, and in that heart courage to make s love known? Nobody suspected a thing of him. Cunningly, he and his wife pretended to be as distraught as everybody else. This was the first public act of dishonesty by Macbeth; his friends trusted him, yet he feigned sorrow for the beloved king he had taken from them. With this act, Macbeth began to fulfill the witches evil desires, and moved closer to deepest consequence and harm, as warned by Banquo.
Malcolm and Donnalbain, the king s two sons, upon the death of their father, immediately fled far away, understandably fearing for their own safety. One fled to England, the other to Ireland, and thus suspicions grew over whether it was in fact them who killed their father. Macbeth advocated this idea, for of course it channeled attention and suspicions away from him. So, with the two sons gone, he was next candidate for the throne. There it was the final prediction from the witches: Macbeth was King.
Yet, Macbeth was a troubled man. O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife! The witches had prophesized to Banquo that he would get kings, but not be one. This meant that at some point, Macbeth or his descendants would be either killed or defeated. Although Banquo had been a good and close friend, Macbeth immediately ordered his death, and sent two murderers to kill him and his son, Fleance, as they approached Dunsinane. He convinced the murderers that Banquo was an evil man, so that they would kill not only because they were ordered so, but through hate. Both of you know Banquo was your enemy.
But his plan was not completely successful. Banquo was killed, but Fleance escaped. Thus, the words of the witches were kept alive, and Macbeth was yet not safe. Although Banquo was dead, he would haunt Macbeth still. The ghost of Banquo appeared at Macbeth s feast, visible to no one but the newly crowned king. He sat amongst the guests, blood, gashes and all. To them, Macbeth was talking to nothing; a figment of his imagination, or perhaps, his guilt-stained conscience.
Having decided that he had come too far in this bloody business to go back, Macbeth revisited the witches. He needed to know more, and he was given more, although he was oblivious to their words conformity to the treacherous ambiguity of their trade, and how they oozed compliance with Banquo s warning. He was told to beware of Macduff, but yet he was not a man of woman born, which, to Macbeth, seemed to cancel each other out, thus rendering Macduff harmless. But, Macduff was not of woman born he had been removed by caesarian-section! The witches also said Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him. Could that happen? Macbeth did not seem to think so. But the final offering from the witches showed eight kings, and then Banquo, who had a mirror in his hand, indicating that he was the father. This kept the air of fear around Macbeth he was still not safe. He subsequently ordered the murder of Macduff s entire family.
The rebellion against Macbeth was growing at a rapid rate. Macduff, Malcolm and Ross had already allied in England, and were planning a vengeful coup. Lady Macbeth was ill; where previously she had appeared so emotionally strong, she had grown weak. Guilt and realization had broken down the barriers of inhumane, power-inspired indifference within the confines of her oppressed brain. Soon, she would be dead, a victim of herself her death too sudden to be fair on the victims of her malice. Macbeth was still alive, and left to bear the wrath of the community she helped destroy.
The deviousness of the witches prophecies was becoming apparent. A force led by Malcolm and Macduff was approaching Dunsinane prepared for battle, but they were under the guise of hundreds of lumbered trees, from none other than Birnam Wood. Great Birnam Wood was coming to high Dunsinane Hill. By this time, Macbeth realized that there was no chance of an outcome without a war. He was sick at heart. He had finally reached the position that he had so wanted; yet it no longer was valuable to him. He had betrayed everybody, and his tyrannous rule gave him no satisfaction. The imminent battle would be the climax to a good life turned evil. Questioning the objective of life itself –
[Life} is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing, he could see that his life had withered away.
I have lived long enough. My way of life
Is fall n into the sear, he conceded, I ll fight, till from my bones my flesh be hacked.
I will not yield,
To kiss the ground before young Malcolm s feet.
Having little to lose, Macbeth, in the final display of his brilliant swordsmanship fought all who challenged. Young Siward, with all his resolution and black, ugly hate for Macbeth, was slain in his attempt, because he was, of course, of woman born. Macduff was the only man who could claim not to be so, and fought Macbeth in the ultimate battle, armed with a sword hardened by the souls of his slain family, and sharpened by the witches evil desires. Such a combination was invincible, and Macbeth s life was over. The glory and celebration Macbeth so nearly destroyed the kingdom for, united it once more under the rightful crown of Malcolm, eldest son of Duncan.
Thus, the instruments of darkness had played their horrific song to perfection. So many men, women and children lay murdered at the hands of their latest subject; whose misguided brain no longer had a body to perform its bloody operations.
Banquo s warning had borne out in its entirety,
Though left as just words, it was destined for vanity;
It will echo forever, in the names of the perished,
For when they lived, heard it Macbeth,
King, of tragedy.