Macbeth, a play written by Shakespeare, teaches people that under many situations in life, many people react differently to these devastating events that may take place. Likewise, how people can link back to a foolish decision someone made all for their own good. Have you ever said something to someone and regretted it after it was too late to change what you said? Well, this is what Shakespeare taught us throughout this play. The foolish decision was made by Macbeth himself, how he slowly manipulated peoples thoughts and beliefs, especially those closest to him. In this, I will talk about how Shakespeare shows us how people react to this unwise choice by Macbeth. How his wife was quickly submerged in the thirst for fame and power which only ended in a whirlpool into insanity. How Macbeth drove himself down a road with no escape and finally how the people surrounding Macbeth noticed these sudden changes in him and quickly acted on them before it was too late.
Shakespeare expresses how people react to the disastrous events that happen in people’s lives because of the choices that they have made prior. In the Macbeth play, Act 2, Scene 1 and 2, Macbeth goes ahead in his plan of killing Duncan, the King. Following his actions, he expressed immediate regret and was greatly disturbed. In Scene 2, Macbeth says, while looking at the blood on his hands, “This is a sorry sight”. Lady Macbeth quickly responds to his remark with a bitter cold comment “A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight”.
Later Shakespeare shows us how those choices have long-term affected them both, but more so Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth, in the beginning, had sudden thoughts of what could have been a supreme royal life as the wife of a King, to be able to have power and privilege. Lady Macbeth shows how she desires power through the way she ‘bullies’ Macbeth, lowering his confidence and proudness. With that power, she peer pressures him into the ‘successful’ idea of killing Duncan. In Act 1, Scene 7 Lady Macbeth furthermore, shows this ‘bullying’ by harshly commenting on Macbeth being a ‘coward’. “Wouldst thou have that Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life, And live a coward in thine own esteem, Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would, ”” Here Lady Macbeth tells Macbeth how her love for him will dimish if he doesn’t kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth is an accomplice in the participation of the murder of King Duncan.
During Act 5, Scene 1, Shakespeare has scripted about a doctor watching over Lady Macbeth trying to figure out her sickness, as instructed by a worried Gentlewoman. The gentlewoman is very distressed about what she has heard from the unconscious Lady Macbeth. Just as the doctor explains how he hasn’t been able to notice any suspicious behaviour, Lady Macbeth enters. The sleepwalking Lady Macbeth starts speaking her truest, deepest thoughts. As she says “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?”, while continually rubbing her hands together. Shakespeare is showing us the dread of collecting the bloody knives off Macbeth and having innocent blood on her hands has affected Lady Macbeth’s mind and put her into a dark mindset. From this, the stress of being apart of such evil has contributed to holding in dark secrets, making her feel stuck and alone.
Shakespeare didn’t just let Lady Macbeth fall into a deep trap of her own mind, he also did this to Macbeth. Macbeth in the very beginning of the play was known as a soldier, a strong warrior who defeated all of his enemies. He was someone who people looked up to with hope and proudness. During Act 1, Scene 2, a battle was taking place, and a captain had just come back to report of the battle to King Duncan. At the same time, he also spoke about how the soldiers were coping with the battle. One of the soldiers was Macbeth, he spoke proudly of Macbeth and said: “If I say sooth, I must report they were As cannons overcharged with double cracks, So they doubly redoubled strokes upon the foe.” Here he describes how Macbeth used all his power and will to defeat this battle and that he used twice as much force near the end to completely finish off the battle.
Later, in Act 1, Scene 3, Macbeth meets with the witches, upon a heath, they tell him of his future prophecies of becoming the Thane of Cawdor and later to be crowned King. Here Shakespeare has shown us that Macbeth has two choices, whether or not to believe this very suspicious prediction from the witches. However, since Macbeth had successfully defeated the battle, and he has been rewarded with the name: “Thane of Cawdor” by the King for his bravery. After this event had occurred, it proved to Macbeth that the witches may truly have the power to foresee Macbeth’s future and that so far their suspicions were becoming true.
After Duncan had congratulated Macbeth, Macbeth became jealous once Duncan had announced that his eldest son, Malcolm, will be crowned the king next. Macbeth’s jealousy grew in that moment and his desire to become King grew strong. In that moment, Shakespeare shows how one’s mind can lead down an untrustworthy path. Macbeth, in this case, chose to believe in the witches.
Trusting those witches became stronger as the more information they told about him slowly they became true. During Act 4, Scene 1 the witches expanded on their prophecies and showed Macbeth three apparitions as a direct warning. The three apparitions were essentially warning Macbeth about how he cannot be defeated by a “man of woman born”, unless “Great Birnman wood to high Dunsinane hill, Shall come against him”. These apparitions were once again ‘suspicions’ from the witches, saying that Macbeth cannot be killed by someone who was born from a woman, however, he can if the infamous Birnman forest travelled to Dunsinane Hill castle.
Macbeth, who was completely trapped on this dark path, surprisingly took these apparitions carelessly, not bothering about the clear warnings in any way. Shakespeare has shown us how Macbeth’s mind has become so overwhelmed by the thirst of success that he chose to push himself and others around him to full potential, all for the sake of wanting more power. This is all because of Macbeth’s choice in whether to go ahead and believe the witches or to put it behind him and forget about those very questionable predictions.
Lastly, Shakespeare also shows us the dangerous decisions other people make, which can leave devastating scars both mentally and physically on the people around them. After Macbeth and Lady Macbeth chose some unwise decisions, the friends and family surrounding them began to lose truth in them. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were becoming secretive and closed. After Macbeth began to trust the witches more, he followed through on their belief by killing Banquo. That night there was a dinner, of which Banquo was meant to join them in. During the dinner, Macbeth was the only person that was able to witness a ghost-like figure of Banquo. He then began to talk to this mysterious figure. “Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake, Thy gory locks at me.” Macbeth shocked by the fact that Banquo presently sat in front of him. Here Shakespeare shows how Macbeth’s mind is becoming poisoned. A second murder of an innocent life all because of his own selfish needs. This guilty conscious which sits at the top of his mind has placed bizarre hallucinations in the presence of his fellow accompanies.
Lenox and Rosse were 2 out of the 6 lords attending Macbeth’s feast. They both instantly noticed Macbeth’s unusual behaviour at the dining table. Rosse is the one that remarks on Macbeth’s sudden strange attitude with “Gentlemen, rise. His highness is not well.” shortly after Macbeth returns back to his normal state and apologises for his peculiar behaviour. Both Rosse and Lenox are still unamused by this and begin to be cautious around Macbeth.
Long later, in Act 3, Scene 6 Lenox had begun to have suspicions about these murders and who might have acted upon them. In doing so he decides to warn Macduff and Malcolm about how they should stay out of Macbeth’s way and let him be. Lenox doesn’t like the thought of going against the King, however, Macduff, Malcolm, Rosse and himself have all noticed that their country is suffering under Macbeth’s evil ruling. In a quote in Act 4 Scene 3, said by Macduff “Bleed, bleed, poor country! Great tyranny, lay thou thy basis sure, For goodness dare not check thee. Wear thou thy wrongs;”, Macduff is representing what Macbeth is doing to their country. They each do not agree with this and all decide to fight back and prepare to start a war with Macbeth. In the same scene, Malcolm expresses how he defines who Macbeth truly is “I grant him bloody, Luxurious, avaricious, false, deceitful, Sudden, malicious, smacking of every sin That has a name.”.
In the last few scenes of Act 5, a battle takes place against Macbeth. Hundreds of soldiers risk their lives to defeat an ‘evil’ king who is causing a country to slowly collapse and die. As Macduff and Macbeth fight against each other, Macduff reveals that he was born by caesarian, this startles Macbeth and he replies with “Accursèd be that tongue that tells me so, For it hath cowed my better part of man! And be these juggling fiends no more believed, That palter with us in a double sense, That keeps the word of promise to our ear, And break it to our hope. I’ll not fight with thee.” Here Shakespeare shows how Macbeth’s personal choices flash in front of his eyes. He realises what a fool he was to trust those witches in the beginning and how he chose not to believe in the warning signs.
In this essay, I have explained how Shakespeare expresses how people react in stressful and devasting events. Lady Macbeth after being cursed by the innocent blood on her hands drove her mind mad and she began to come unstable and confess secrets. Macbeth was so devoured in luck and the quick pathway to fame according to a prophecy some psychotic witches told him. This only lead him down a lonely, dark and evil path to nowhere but death. Then finally how friends of Macbeth noticed his suspicious behaviour and began to carefully watch him, even though in the end their proudness for their country came first and the only way to free their country again was to remove Macbeth, and that is what they succeeded in.
I believe that this Shakespearean play taught the audience about how you should not act in a selfish manner and think about those around you before acting out unwisely. Even after all these years people still find this play relevant to real and current life as the same themes still apply.