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Were Macbeth's relationships responsible for his downfall?

Uploaded by christianpup on Mar 14, 2002

QUESTION: Choose one or two themes from 'Macbeth' and discuss how that theme is developed through the relationships in the play.

William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Macbeth’ is a tragic tale abundant with themes that relate to audiences from all generations. The theme of ambition is ultimately one of the most important themes in the play and it is developed through many various relationships. Love, friendship and power develop the theme of ambition to the extent of luring the plot to chaos and destroying many of the characters’ lives. The relationships alter Macbeth’s way of thinking and his actions originating from those thoughts make people question his sanity. He becomes paranoid, heartless and his life twists into a spiral of deceit, treachery and murder. His ardour for power transforms him from an honest, noble man, to a ruthless, insecure tyrant. The relationships he manipulates have a dramatic impact on his raging ambition. That is the very element that eventually destroys his reputation, his life, and those of others.

Macbeth is evidently the key character in most of the relationships. After receiving the prophecies, his ambition for the throne becomes more profuse. Although he is hesitant, his wife motivates him to act on the ambition to decide how he wants his future to be. Together they explore their deep desires for power and show their similar ambitions. Macbeth’s loyal friend, Banquo provides an obvious contrast to Macbeth. This relationship displays their friendship, but also how they drift apart after hearing the prophecies. Macbeth is angered that Banquo’s son would inherit the crown, saying,

“Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown
And put a barren scepter in my gripe,” (III, i: 65)

Macbeth knows he has to kill his friend to keep the crown but still he betrays Banquo’s trust and breaks their code of friendship.

The relationships in the plot do not necessarily revolve around people. Macbeth’s relationship with power is a major element that influences him to act on his ambition. In the beginning, Macbeth’s ambition is a passive asset, meaning he can hold back on his desires. However marriage, friendship and his craving for power mutates Macbeth’s sanity. The tyrannical king kills his friend, excludes his wife and eventually cares about nothing but power. Ambition deeply explores a dangerous theme, which no one should deal with.

The binding force of marriage conveniently shields the malicious ambitions of Macbeth and his wife. Their relationship starts as one...

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Uploaded by:   christianpup

Date:   03/14/2002

Category:   Macbeth

Length:   6 pages (1,297 words)

Views:   1383

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