Friday, December 30, 2011

Cage of Butterflies

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Ambition in Macbeth

In Shakespearean times, ambition was seen to be wrong, as it went against the natural order. You had to accept yourself for who you were. People were not encouraged to better themselves.

In act I scene I, the three witches plan to meet Macbeth upon a heath. They announce the major theme of the play appearances can be deceptive.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair line.

Macbeth in Act I echoes this in Scene three,

So foul and fair a day I have not seen


These contradictions introduce a feeling of opposing forces at war. They are a symbol of the struggles that take place in the play.

This could tie in with the scene in which Lady Macbeth tells her husband to '..Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it.'

At the beginning of scene three, the witches greet him with, Hail, Macbeth that shalt be King hereafter. This stuns Macbeth leaving him lost for words.

He is then told that he will be Thane Of Cawdor, but Macbeth knows he lives a prosperous gentleman. Macbeth is unaware that The Thane Of Cawdor was a traitor to the King and had fought on the opposing side in the battle.

Notice how Macbeth and Banquo repeat the witches words, almost as though the witches have some supernatural influence over them.

With that the witches disappear. By this time, the audience is sensing something very wrong, as they were firm believers in witches and witchcraft. Women who were thought to be witches were burned at the stake.

If the witches were not in the play, then there would not be any ambition sparked off in Macbeth.

Soon, Ross and Angus see Macbeth and Banquo and they tell Macbeth that he is the new Thane Of Cawdor. The Thane was a traitor to the King.

Thoughts cross Macbeths mind, thoughts of murder, treachery and deceit. His ambition is getting the better of him.

Later in Act I scene V, Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband telling her about the witches prophecies. She believes instantly in the prophecy and assumes even more quickly than Macbeth that Duncan must be murdered for it to come true. Her only worry is that her husband is to full o the milk of human kindness to do the deed. She sees this as a weakness that she must chastise out of him.

When they meet and discuss murdering Duncan, she calls him a coward and says he is like the cat in the adage (proverb) that wants to eat fish but will not get its feet wet. This gives the impression that the ambition in Macbeth is there, but he is afraid of the consequences or the outcomes.

We feel some sympathy for Macbeth, as the witches sparked his ambition and he is being pressurised by his own wife with emotional blackmail. What is he to do?



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