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Essays on Macbeth


Essays on Macbeth

Essays on Macbeth should be based on specific, narrowed topic.  You should choose a specific topic and narrow your research to specific question.  Read the following essay to learn how to narrow essay topic:

…It is possible to interpret Macbeth's 'Wake Duncan with thy knocking, I would thou couldst!' as sincere remorse for Duncan's murder. I think, however, that he is still concerned with himself; he would like Duncan alive that he himself might not be exposed to the horrible dangers which are the result of what he has done. As one seventeenth century writer puts it, 'Consciences that are without remorse are not without horror: wickedness makes men desperate.' And horror is what Macbeth has in his conscience, tormenting him with visions, with sounds, with terrible dreams, but unable to move him one step towards repentance. He wishes he had not done the deed because its consequences are so terrifying, not because the deed itself was wrong.

Once crowned, Macbeth experiences 'horrible imaginings' just as he knew he would before the murder. The situation is summed up wonderfully in the soliloquy expressing his fears and hatred of Banquo. To be thus is nothing,/ But to be safely thus. His objective has always embraced not only being king, but enjoying kingship in safety. Without safety kingship is nothing, for until he feels safe he will be tormented by fears. Quite naturally the fears centre on Banquo, who knows all about the witches, and who was hailed as father to a line of kings; there is no one more likely to have learnt Macbeth's bloody instructions and to be ready to profit by them. And so Banquo and his son must die, to free Macbeth from 'these terrible dreams/That shake us nightly'. In the torture of the fears which come from his guilty conscience Macbeth can envy Duncan his sound sleep in the grave. The usurper lives and wakes to fear treason, steel, poison, malice domestic, foreign levy: they all play their part as possible means of judgment on him.

Macbeth still combines deceit with ruthlessness; the murder must be done in secret and 'something from the palace', and though he could sweep Banquo away with 'bare-faced power', bare is the last thing he must let his face be since Duncan's murder; he must live in public in a visor, using his face to express the opposite of his intentions. Thus there was the false courteousness to Banquo at his leave-taking, and the admonition to Lady Macbeth (to hide his plans even from her) to show special favour to the man marked down as a victim, who will be dead before the favour can be shown. However bitterly Macbeth regrets laving 'our honours in these flattering streams' he must do it, because for a while anything else is unsafe for him…

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