Macbeth: Divided Man Essay, Research Paper
The tragedy of Macbeth is an excellent example of a divided man and a divided kingdom. As we follow Macbeth through the course of this play we realize that he is a wealth of indecision and as a result of this lack of confidence suffers a bloody demise fitting for the butcher he was. This indecision leads him to do many things that would be considered very impulsive and erroneous on his part. He has a unique case of duplicity, and this is what destroys him in the end. He is glad that he is king but he is upset that he has killed Duncan, and continues to regret his actions through the entire play.
Macbeth, before temptation was a man that was admired and honorable. What caused him to begin to question himself morally was the prophesy by the three witches that he would one day be king. Leading up to his actions to become king is the most acrobatic set of self examinations and second guessing. This is probably the most climatic time in the play, where Macbeth is deciding within himself whether he should take the prophesy into his own hands, or whether he should just continue living his life the way he always has.
Macbeth is still undecided in what he should do, even though he almost seems to be pulled by fate towards what he perceives as his destiny, and as Macbeth imagines what will have to be done in order for him to become king, he is almost mortified. My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, / Shakes so my single state of man that function / Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is / But what is not. (I, iii, ll. 139-142)
Macbeth realizes that in order to become king he is going to have to kill Duncan. This unnerves him somewhat, for Duncan has just recently honored him and made his name great in Scotland as an honorable warrior.
As Macbeth begins to realize the desires within him to become king there is almost a resignation on his part to his evil side.
The Prince of Cumberland! 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, ll.49-55)
In this quote Macbeth realizes that not only will he need to kill Duncan in order to fulfill the prophesy, but he may have to kill the heir to the throne, Malcom, the Prince of Cumberland. This scene further demonstrates his duplicity because on the exterior he is receiving Duncan and his family warmly, but he realizes that inside of him burns the fire of envy and greed.
Lady Macbeth realizes that her husband may be too timid and merciful to commit the evil deed and she admonishes him for this, encouraging him even further that to become king is his destiny.
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be/ What thou art promised: yet do I fear thy nature;/ It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness/ To catch the nearest way: thou wouldst be great;/ Art not without ambition, but without/ The illness should attend it: what thou wouldst highly, / (I, v, ll.16-21)
Lady Macbeth is a great influence on her husband from the standpoint that she helps him to overcome his good nature in the end to kill Duncan. If it weren t for her, Macbeth would surely be wallowing even further in his indecision regarding the murder at hand. As it is, he is breaking apart inside as a result of his indecision.
The evil all around Macbeth begins to take a toll on his goodness and allows his evil side to influence him. Macbeth seems finally committed to completing his task. He resigns himself to the evil of killing Duncan eventually, but even leading up to the murder doubts are expressed. He never can seem to fully commit to anything. Macbeth expresses his concern over killing the king.
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return/ To plague the inventor: this even-handed justice/ Commends the ingredients of our poison’d chalice/ To our own lips. He’s here in double trust;/ First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,/ Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, / (I, vii, ll.9-14)
Again, even closer to the killing he questions himself. He almost seems committed to not committing the crime now that he has agreed to it.
We will proceed no further in this business:/
He hath honour’d me of late; and I have bought/ Golden opinions from all sorts of people,/ Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,/ Not cast aside so soon. / (I, vii, ll.31-34)
He reason, in this quote for not killing Duncan are, the king has honored him recently, and he doesn t believe that so soon after honor has been bestowed upon him, he should commit this dishonorable deed.
Macbeth tells himself that he must complete the deed, and in spite of his doubts and fears he is resigned to committing the task at hand. He finally commits to what he feels is his destiny, as self-made as it is.
I am settled, and bend up/
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat./
Away, and mock the time with fairest show:/
False face must hide what the false heart doth know. / (I, vii, ll.79-82)
After the deed of killing Duncan has taken place Macbeth is still not at peace in his spirit that he has done the right thing.
Macbeth comes to himself and realizes the gravity of what he has just committed. To know my deed, ’twere best not know myself. / Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst! (II, ii, ll.72-73) In this quote, expressed immediately after the murder, is his doubt of the act that he has just committed to and followed through with.
Macbeth will not stop killing until he thinks everybody who threatens his throne is dead. This ruins his life, for he feels he must kill anyone and everyone who he perceives as a threat to his throne. He realizes that his throne could be taken from him in the same fashion that he usurped Duncan s authority. Banquo becomes one of Macbeth s great enemies so he commissions murderers to kill Banquo and son, but the son escapes. He expresses fear when he hears that Fleance has escaped that attack. But now I am cabin’d,cribb’d, confined, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears. But Banquo’s safe? / (III, iv, ll.25-26)
Macbeth is very afraid for his throne, but he is also very inwardly disgusted at the acts that he has committed and is afraid of the consequences. He acknowledges his wife s callousness in this quote. When now I think you can behold such sights, / And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks, / When mine is blanched with fear. (III, iv, ll.115-117)
Until the very end of the play when Lady Macbeth kills herself as a result of the insane acts she has been a party to, she is Macbeth s constant temptress and partner in his deeds. It seems to him that she would do things that he would not dream of, and this author is almost certain that had Lady Macbeth not convinced her husband that it was his destiny to kill Duncan and be king, Macbeth would not have had the fortitude and decision to do it himself. His wife was the only decisive mind between the two of them, and when she made a decision she knew that it couldn t be changed, and she didn t regret it (at least in public). We do find out that Lady Macbeth is tortured by the events that have unfolded, but this takes place in her sleep, so it is a recoil of spirit rather than an indecisive mind.
The tragic hero represented by Shakespeare in the character of Macbeth is a very divided man even unto the end. He makes some decisions that affect the rest of his life, but is always unsure of these decisions and insecure in himself. After he has murdered Duncan, he is completely shattered inwardly. He has gone against every moral he has ever learned, and because he has already done this he cannot turn back from his actions, and instead takes to regret and hating himself. After he has obtained the throne through blood, he is insecure and realizes that if he could commit such atrocities, other people could surely overthrow him, and this ultimately leads to his bloody downfall because of his fear of others, and in his insecurity in himself and the ability to make proper decisions.
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them,
Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation;
and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: