Themes Of Betrayal And Immorality In He Play Macbeth And Poem The War Works Hard

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Shakespeare's medieval “Macbeth” and Dunya Mikhail’s poem” The War Works Hard” highlight similar concepts and themes such as betrayal throughout different points of time. Through appropriate language features and techniques Shakespeare he provides an insight into how Macbeth, a well known nobleman battles the road of corruption for a high position of power during the Middle Ages. Actions are fumed by betrayal, deception and ambition which represent Macbeth’s desire for power. Shakespeare’s constant use of imagery and metaphors support Macbeth’s portrayal as immoral and willing to fight for power. While on the other hand, Mikhail’s modern day poem raises attention around the devastation, destruction and consequences of war throughout Iraq in a tone of sarcasm and mockery. The author’s main focus being to evoke the recurrence of themes such as betrayal and immorality. With detailed, dark imagery and light heartlessness, Mikhail’s achieves an insightful commentary on war. Overall, beyond the difference in the timeframe and national affairs the two texts represent similar intentions and ideas.

Each text uniquely explores betrayal as a key theme and the driving influence of key characters and events. After Macbeth is informed of the prophecy that he will one day be King, he exceeds moral boundaries to fulfil this prediction. Macbeth begins to perceive every around him as a threat to ruin the prophecy resulting in complete madness to murder noblemen of the Scottish Monarchy. “Your hand, your tongue, look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t” highlights Macbeth’s plan to deceive and betray King Duncan by assassinating him. His only intention to commit the regicide is due to Macbeth’s fear of losing the chance to seize the crown. Constantly examples of betrayal are made evident including the betrayal and murder of loyal King Duncan ( Act 2, scene 2) and the further murder of Banquo ( Act 3, scene 3) and Macduff’s family (Act 4, scene 2). Not only does Macbeth betray the King, rather the entire Scottish society by depriving them of a righteous king and by usurping the throne. In comparison to Mikhail’s poem “The War Works Hard” a detailed insight is provided to outline the betrayal felt by Iraqi society by ruling tyrants.” Inspiring tyrants” is a key example in portraying her devastation and sense of betrayal by leaders who once seemed inspiring. “Reaps punctures and blisters, urges families to emigrate, stand beside the clergymen as they curse the devil”, draws attention to the authors deep sorrow for the obligatory movement of people from their homeland. Once again adding to her overgrowing perception of betrayal around her.

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The central theme of betrayal portrayed in each text links in with the overall idea of immorality. Mikhail utilises her poetic form to convey the lack of morality within society specific to the time. “Contributes to the industry of artificial limbs, provides food for the flies” demonstrates the absence of morals and ethics within a modern day society. Contributing to the broad ideas both authors draw attention to. In relation to the 15th century story of Macbeth, the audience and reader are made aware of the refusal and deprivation of basic morality whether it be in medieval Scotland or in the modern day Middle East. Highlighting this theme exhibits the close relation between two texts written in circumstances of conflict and timeframes. Macbeth was solely written to entertain the wealthy and noble members of the English society but delivers a deep yet meaningful message still relevant until this day. This is made evident in Macbeth “I had lived a blessed time, for, from this instant. There’s nothing serious in mortality”( Act 2, scene 3). Here Shakespeare presents an enlightening representation on the loss of a moral compass for characters in Macbeth. But the men alone in the play are not the only characters who lack morality, stereotypes are broken when Lady Macbeth announces her yearning for her “ women breasts to take her milk for gall” and to “unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top full of direst cruelty, make thick my blood” (Act 1, scene 5). Lady’s Macbeth’s willingness to abandon her sense of moral principles and standards emphasis Lady’s Macbeth’s dedication to cloak herself in evil to achieve greatness for both herself and her husband. Similarly Mikhail’s states “new houses for orphans, invigorates the coffin makers, give grave differs a pat on the back and paints a smile on the leaders face” which represents the bleak loss of morals in her poem. Her use of the metaphor “painting a smile on the leaders face” indicates the lack of morality demonstrated by politicians, reminding her and surrounding society of the qualities and acceptance of inhumanity throughout the world. Consequently history repeats itself as both authors explore how morality is constantly deprived.

Corruption within nobility and high social classes challenges the true qualities and features of honourable positions of power in both texts. In general the way in which the Scottish monarchy functions conveys the corruption within a body of government. Power proves to bring corruption, specifically referring to Macbeth himself who once become motivated by power he corrupts his mind and alters his definition of control. Rather then righteously fulfilling the act of a fair King, he abuses his power fumed by corruption to brutally execute fellow generals and their families. Resulting in the murder of Macduff’s family ( Act 4, scene 3). “Angles are bright still, though the brightest fell” indicates Macduff’s emotion associated with the death of his family, his belief in goodness of the world still exists. Potentially corruption was the driving motive for Lady Macbeth to murder herself, for she no longer can “wash her hands” of her cruel misdemeanours. Lady Macbeth metaphorically uses the term “washing her hands” to portray whether she will be cleansed of all the evil she recently committed.“What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” Is a key line focusing around guilt , which later on leads to the corruption and detonation of her social statues and health.” Here’s the smell of blood still, all the perfume of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand” refers once again to her constant reflection on her past wicked, deeds. In resemblance to “The War Works Hard” the author implies corruption throughout the oppressive regime controlling her country simply by the tone of mockery and use of imagery to portray the corruption. “The war works hard with unparalleled diligence!” associates how the complete destruction and horror of war contains to be ignored and the war only continues to strive and continue its damage. Furthermore she focuses her attention on the positive attributes of war seen by such politicians, “awards metals to general, and theme to poets”. Making evident the rare minority of individuals who focus on the benefit of such a tragic event. “Adds pages to the history books, achieves equality between killer and killed, teaches lovers to write letters” from these lines the reader develops the impression that politicians in times of such strife focus on the positive side of such a calamity. Therefore as noticed dishonesty and corruption can be associated with individuals who are of high, honourable and influential positions whether it be during the ancient Scottish Monarchy or under the dictatorship of tyrants in the Middle East.

Ultimately both texts unveil the similarities associated with betrayal, immorality and corruption within bodies of government and monarchies. Which are essential to display the authors intention. Regardless of the contrasting timeframes, language techniques and authorial intentions a resemblance can be noticed parallel aspects and ideas. Macbeth and The War Works Hard convey and impact society as their fundamental ideas portray how history continues to repeat itself and we can see a cynical lack of change in human behaviour and mentality.

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Themes Of Betrayal And Immorality In He Play Macbeth And Poem The War Works Hard. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“Themes Of Betrayal And Immorality In He Play Macbeth And Poem The War Works Hard.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
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