The Relationship Of Power, Cruelty And Masculinity In Macbeth

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Macbeth, a play written by William Shakespeare follows the journey to kingship by Macbeth, a scottish nobleman and knight turned Thane of Cowdor. Macbeth himself is loyal and a great companion however, his foreshadowed downfall and impending doom is influenced by the corruption of power, the relationship between cruelty and masculinity as well the heavy impact of an overall violent and unstable world,all of which they proclaim Macbeth as a future king.

The idea of a violent and unstable world is portrayed heavily through the character of Lady Macbeth. Depicted to be stronger, more ruthless, and more ambitious than her husband, she seems fully aware of this and knows that she will have to push Macbeth into committing murder. Violence plays a big role with gender roles. Men in this play are brutish and violent, the act of killing someone without remorse is considered masculine. The men suppress their emotions of weakness; sympathy and guilt while the women are ‘ladylike’; remorseful, emotional and weak for expressing their sympathy. Lady Macbeth challenges this ‘traditional’ preconception. Her constant preaching of violence, going as far as to assure and guarantee her promises to bash out the brains of her baby, “ have pluckd my nipple from his boneless gums and dashd the brains out” contributes to the overall idea that Macbeth is a play focused on instability. Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband with remarkable effectiveness.Her violent objections heavily overshadow Macbeth’s hesitiations and guilt in commiting murder. However determination and remarkable strength of will in persistance through the murder of the king is followed by understanding and acceptance within Macbeth in acknowledging the power that comes with such violence and the possibilites yet to come from it. However, although once seeking bloodshed and power through violence, she begins a slow slide into madness with her ambition affects her more strongly than Macbeth before the crime. Guilt plagues her more strongly afterward. She becomes reduced to sleepwalking through the castle, desperately trying to wash away an invisible bloodstain. Her sensitivity slowly becoming her weakness, gradually becoming unable to cope. Significantly, the cause of her death, apparent suicide, is portrayed ot be due to her total inability to deal with the legacy of their crimes. Highlighting the true rise and fall of the effects of violence within such an unstable world.

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Bloodshed is rampant and acts of violence dominate the play’s storyline. Although Macbeth's initial perception and acts of violence are led with no ill intention and heavily influenced by his values and loyalty to King Duncan, he knows his position is to protect the king and not to hold the knife to the king himself. Therefore, he could be seen as a less violent character however, primarily after the defeat of the rebel Macdonwald’s army by Macbeth and the Scottish army, it is stated “for brave Macbeth, disdaining fortune with his brandished steel...” Macbeth's feets of bravery and constant upheld honour, find him crowned Thane of Cawdor. It is after he's crowned that the ideas of violence begin to completely consume his thoughts and actions. The idea of murdering Duncan although heavily influenced by the input of Lady Macbeth, is still a prevalent thought within Macbeth's mind. Prior to the murder, Macbeth imagines seeing a dagger floating in the air before him as he says, “I ee thee still, and on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, which was not so before. There’s no such thing.” Macbeth’s desire for control stimulates his violent behaviour. Predominantly, through Macbeth’s grown desire and ill intentions, it can be seen the true power violence upholds within the play. The urge to violence is deeply embedded in the human psyche, and creates recurring whatever political formations are dominant.

In Macbeth, violence, with its karmic effect, breeds violence. Shakespeare uses Banquo against Macbeth as a moral comparison. At the start of Macbeth, they are of comparable background, formal rank and authority ; both are facing the tempting prophecy. However, Banquo strives to 'maintain [ his ] bosom franchised and clear loyalty' (II.i.26-7) while Macbeth 'spring the life to come' to commit killings (I.vii.7). Karma is based heavily on ethical consideration and moral responsibility. Banquo's family line is blessed with good karma with moral behavior, contrasting with Macbeth's deadly karma induced by violence. Macduff, who conducted the most visually bloody violence by cutting Macbeth's head and showing it, is also exempt from poor karma. Since Macbeth has no kids of his own, the bloody deed of Macduff is unlikely to cause another loop of violence against himself. It is sensible to suggest that, as a karma on Macbeth, Macduff's brutal action is justified by his excellent intention to save Scotland from tyranny.

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The Relationship Of Power, Cruelty And Masculinity In Macbeth. (2021, September 30). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
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