Macbeth: How Rice Of Power Led To A Failure

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William Shakespeare’s tragedy ‘Macbeth’ captures the titular character’s progressive isolation as his power grows, highlighted through the deterioration of his relationships with trusted allies, Lady Macbeth and his secluded death. Whilst eleventh-century Scotland is a virtuous realm of honour, Macbeth’s betrayal of the chain of being is a ruinous act of brutality which results in his seclusion. Though the chronological structure of the play Shakespeare suggests how Macbeth’s isolation is progressive and transpires correspondingly to his increasing influence. Macbeth’s introduction as a noble hero juxtaposes his lonely persona following an increase in power. Additionally, Macbeth’s increased influence engenders the death of his partner, alluding to his seclusion. The Thane of Glamis ultimately dies alone, heightening the relationship between power and solitude. Ergo, Macbeth’s pursuit of power compels his ultimate isolation.

Shakespeare displays heroism and bravery to be easily replaceable with betrayal and isolation. The opening of the play focuses primarily on Macbeth as the heroic object of everyone’s admiration, well earned as he is the saviour of his country. The captain’s account of Macbeth’s exploits serves to establish Macbeth’s stature as a “Worthy gentleman!” The playwright makes a deliberate decision in portraying Macbeth as admirable general as it juxtaposes how Thane is viewed by his friends following his rise to power. Macbeth’s role is that of a man who begins as the central and most admired figure of his society and ends by being totally isolated from it in his lonely fortress in Dunsinane. This is highlighted through Angus, a man who initially informed King Duncan of Macbeth’s brave actions in battle. However, following Macbeth’s increase in power Angus begins to doubt Macbeth’s leadership and question if he “feels his title Hang loose about him.” Macbeth’s Thanes turn again him and view him as unworthy. This further symbolised through Angus’ referral to Macbeth’s “giant robe,” which is used to criticise Macbeth’s leadership and compare his power to a robe that is too big for him. As Macbeth grows more powerful, he is secluded from his Thanes, highlighting his progressive movement from centrality to isolation.

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Relationships are doomed to end in death and despair, as Shakespeare reveals the consequences of rebelling against the Chain of Being and killing the King. Shakespeare expresses the significance of the relationship between Macbeth and his wife through the deterioration of Macbeth’s relationship with his Thanes as Lady Macbeth is seemingly all Macbeth has left. However, Macbeth’s increase in power forces Lady Macbeth to commit suicide, resulting in him having lost his true companion and being alone. Macbeth’s actions of murder place incurable guilt into Lady Macbeth’s mind, as she transitions from a supportive wife to a culpable woman cousinly attempting to wash away the “damned spot” of guilt. Shakespeare embodies Lady Macbeth’s guilty conscience through the symbolisation of blood, emphasising the detrimental effects that Macbeth’s actions of greed have caused. Upon learning that his beloved wife has passed away, Macbeth cries “Out, out, brief candle, Life’s but a walking shadow.” This metaphor manifests Macbeth’s pain, as his life is compared to a brief candle. Through this soliloquy, Shakespeare utilises light as a symbol of Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth is anguished to learn that the light of his life has been taken away, bathing his world in darkness. Shakespeare alludes to the consistent relationship between Macbeth’s increase in power and his isolation through the death of Lady Macbeth.

Shakespeare conveys how Macbeth’s rise to power causes his own isolation as despite having achieved his goal, Macbeth is now considered a tyrant and dies alone. Macbeth is eventually King and more powerful than ever, but all his relationships with friends, family and his people have declined. This is exemplified by Sidward, who state that those Macbeth “commands, move only in command.” It is apparent that Macbeth’s people only serve him out of fear and lack loyalty, which is further highlighted by the disappearance of Seyton, Macbeth’s chief servant and seemingly all that he has left. Shakespeare further encapsulates Macbeth’s isolation through his soliloquy, in which he states that “They have tied me to a stake; I cannot fly,/But bear-like I must fight the course.” Macbeth uses a metaphor to compare himself to a bird that cannot fly now that he is truly alone. Irony is also displayed as despite claiming that he will fight the course “bear-like,” Macbeth is evidently alone and not strong enough to do so. Macbeth is slain by Macduff and dies alone as a powerful but isolated figure. Following his death, Sidward states that Macbeth is “worth no more…here comes newer comfort”. Sidward suggests that there is new hope now that Macbeth is gone, alluding to the fact that Macbeth is a replaceable King. Shakespeare confirms Macbeth’s loneliness through his lonely death, a consequence of his rise in power.

Macbeth is a sophisticated play that tells the tragic story of a hero’s immoral rise to power and the consequential isolation he faces. Through his play, Shakespeare demonstrates how Macbeth is secluded from his friends and family as his authority over Scotland increases. This is conveyed through Macbeth’s drastic change in persona, as he is originally introduced as a well-admired hero. However, he progressively changes into a powerful tyrant who lacks friends and family and is forced to meet his end in a state of solitude. The pattern of Macbeth’s isolation involves him a progressive physical and mental detachment from other human beings. Shakespeare endorses how powerful figures in society are often alone, highlighting the corresponding relationship between an increase in power and solitude.


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