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In the play ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare, the theme of corruption is clearly provoked throughout the course of the play. It is introduced by the use of the supernatural and through the theme of ambition and is a integral to our understanding of the plot.
Lady Macbeth poses a corrupting effect on Macbeth during the play. “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” Lady Macbeth here, questions his manliness as she knows that he would do anything to prove his masculinity and perform the deeds which she wanted him to do. The fact that Lady Macbeth is a determined and aggressive character makes us believe that she is very powerful in his eyes and so he possibly committed the murder because of this. Therefore she was one of the main reasons his previous moral view were corrupted.
The witches, by telling Macbeth his prophecy, play on his ambitious nature and create a strong-minded character that would do anything to fulfil his prophecy. “All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.” This is the point in which Macbeth finds out his prophecy in which he will be king. He believes the witches and from then on in the play he has his mind set on becoming king and will overcome any obstacle which gets in his way. The witches play on Macbeths initial innocent and loyal mind and cause him, in the end to lose this previous innocence and become a killer.
By Macbeths murder of Duncan, the order of the universe was corrupted. We know this because as soon as the murder took place, there were abnormal weather conditions, which consisted of thunder and lightning, on the withes entrance, and great storms on the night Macbeth performed regicide and killed Duncan.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
This is what is chanted by the witches which makes it clear to us that the order of the universe has been corrupted and it has reverted to chaos. “The night has been unruly. Where we lay, /Our chimneys were blown down”
Nature, here shows the chaos caused by the death of Duncan. It therefore shows us that Macbeths actions were morally wrong and that his mindset has been contaminated with appalling thoughts, leading to the murder of his own king. The darkness which happened following the assassination of the king, could possibly be a symbol of evil which is what in reality, caused Macbeth to perform the actions he did, through the witches.
Deception is an important theme in the understanding of the corruption of Macbeth’s views in the play. From the very first scene, deception is clearly put across to the audience. “Fair is foul and foul is fair”, This is what the withes say in the first scene of the play. This contradiction means that all is not what it seems. look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t This is what Lady Macbeth tells her husband to do so that he would fulfil the murder of the king effectively. She mentions to him that he must look innocent in order to prove his loyalty so he can kill Duncan without anybody expecting it was him. This expresses the theme of corruption as it shows the wickedness of his mentality caused by his great willpower and eagerness.
Another factor of Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, which shows the theme of corruption is how Macbeth is plotting to kill his best friend, Banquo. Macbeths power and ambition to become king leads to fear, doubt and lack of trust between Banquo and himself which leads to the isolation of Macbeth from god, his friends and his society.
Be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck
Macbeth, here, is thinking out loud of his plan to murder Banquo. Lady His wife overhears and questions him about it. Macbeth wants to keep the actions he is going to perform secret, so he asks that his wife that she would be innocent of what she knows about his plans to kill him but tells her not to worry as when they have been completed Macbeth and his wife will be at an advantage. Macbeth performed this deed as he wanted to remove all competition for the throne so it was certain be would gain his place as King. This shows the audience how corrupt his mind has become at this point in the play as he is about to break the faith between him and his best friend, by assassinating him.
Macbeth’s soliloquy in Act 1 following the witches prophecy shows us that Macbeth has murderous thoughts in his head early on in the play which corrupts his previous noble and loyal mind. Macbeth is unsure whether he will have to perform an evil deed in order to gain position as King or if he will fulfil his prophecy through natural ways. He tells us that Banquo is the only man in the whole of Scotland that he is frightened of as he could be a threat to him becoming king. He believes that Banquo lies in the way of his prophecy. If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, Without my stir
Macbeth, here refers to the ‘chance’ of the witches foretelling of his future being accurate. He shows that he believes, if the witches are correct in his prophecy, he will not have to do anything and the position as King will come to him through natural and moral circumstances. Macbeth clearly doesn’t want to kill Duncan, but realises if it is what he must do in order to become the next leader, then he will have to carry out the dark activities which he dreads. This confirm to us that his previous state of mind has been corrupted as he is willing to be disloyal to his country and commit regicide in order to get his own way.
In conclusion, Shakespeare gains the audience’s understanding of the theme of corruption through Macbeths aside comments, relationships with other characters in the play, his sheer aspiration to fulfil his goals and his loyal frame of mind. The theme of corruption is introduced to us by the use of supernatural where the witches tell him a prophecy, by which he follows from then on and is determined to carry out whatever he must to make this prophecy a reality.
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