The Corrupting Power of Ambition

  The theme of ambition blinding man reoccurs in many of Shakespeare’s works.  Just as this theme played an important role in Julius Caesar, the blinding powers of ambition also affect the main in Shakespeare’s famous play, Macbeth.  Ambition has the ability to positively drive a character to accomplish great things in life.  However, when taken too far, ambition can become a character’s leading fatal flaw that ultimately ends his drive for success. In the play, Macbeth is constantly seen trying to achieve more in life all deriving from the initial prophecy that he would one day be king of Scotland. 
     The first time ambition plays a harmful role in Macbeth’s quest for power is when he in fact plans to kill the king.  King Duncan, the present king when Macbeth hears the prophecy, honors Macbeth with great fervor after his many military accomplishments in the name of Scotland.  Because Macbeth desires kingship over his own morals, he kills Duncan in the night after honoring Duncan with a feast.  This initial submission to his ambitions begins a long, corroding path that will eventually lead to his self destruction. 
     The second time Macbeth’s ambition gets the best of him occurs when he orders the death of both Banquo and Macduff’s family.  In killing these people, specifically Macduff’s family, Macbeth shows his true ambition of reigning as king by killing all possible threats to his reign displaying such a state of paranoia.  This ambition in Macbeth’s life eventually leads to his fall from power because he cannot control its influences.  If Macbeth had not given in to the murderous temptations and deceptive actions that came from his ambition for power, then he might have had a peaceful and successful rule as king of Scotland.

Chris Stachurski



     Manipulation has always been present in movies, every day life, and especially in politics. Often times when a politician is trying to get elected, in addition to advertising all of the good things that they have done, they also bash the other politician running for the same position. In a sense, these political figures are trying to manipulate you into voting for him or her by explaining all of the terrible things his or her opponent has done. They use manipulation to convince you that they are the best choice for that particular position. In William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” many characters use manipulation in very much the same way. The characters in “Macbeth” use manipulation in order to ensure that they get want they want.
     One such character who uses manipulation in order to get what she wants is Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth, her husband, into killing King Duncan. When she hears of the witches prophesy of Macbeth becoming king, she believes that Macbeth needs to kill Duncan himself if he wants to be king and she queen. When Lady Macbeth tries to convince Macbeth to do this, at first, he does not want to do it. He believes that Duncan is a good king and so Macbeth has no need to kill him. Macbeth also states, when Duncan is visiting Macbeth’s castle, “He’s here in double trust: first, I am his kinsman and his subject, strong both against the deed; then, as his host, who should against his murderer shut the door, not bear the knife myself.” (Act 1. Sc. 7 Ln. 12-16). In these lines Macbeth expresses how he feels about him killing Duncan. He believes that such an action would be unjustified because as his host, Macbeth is supposed to protect Duncan for murder, not kill him himself.  Lady Macbeth responds to this by questioning Macbeth’s bravery and masculinity. She questions, “Art thou afeard to be in the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that which thou esteem’st the ornament of life and live a coward in thine own esteem…” (Act 1. Sc. 7 Ln. 43-47). With these insults, Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth into killing Duncan even though at first he does not want to do so. With Duncan dead, Macbeth becomes king, and Lady Macbeth becomes queen just like she wanted.
     Later in the play, Macbeth also uses manipulation in order to get what he wants. Realizing that all of the witches’ prophecies have come true except the prophecy that Banquo’s children will become kings, Macbeth becomes suspicious that Banquo may try to kill him and become king. In order to ensure that this does not happen, Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banquo and his son while they are out riding. The murderers were not going to kill Banquo without explanation from Macbeth however, so Macbeth manipulates them into believing that Banquo is their enemy. In one of their meetings, Macbeth says to the two murderers, “That it was he, in the times past, which held you so under fortune, which you thought had been our innocent self….And are you so gospeled to pray for this good man and for this issue, whose heavy hand hath bowed you to the grave and beggared yours forever?” (Act 3. Sc. 1 Ln. 85-86, 98-101). In these lines Macbeth blames the two murderer’s poverty on Banquo and the questions why they would pray for someone who made them beggars. After these lines, the murderers agree to kill Banquo, and they eventually do so. Macbeth manipulates the two murderers in order for him to feel secure that Banquo would not kill him in order to become king.
     Both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth use manipulation in order to get what they desire. These two characters show that William Shakespeare knew just how strong a manipulative person can be.
Jamie Power

The Power of Tyranny

    There is a fine line between a tyrant and a king.  However, despite being two different styles of ruling, both require power to reach such a state of control.  While power may be great in bulk, it can be the driving factor that distinguishes a king from a tyrant. Both kings and tyrants have a considerable amount of power over their realm, but how they use it determines their image to the rest of the world.  A tyrant uses his power irresponsibly and does anything he wants.  A king on the other hand controls his people justly and fairly.  In order to maintain this fair rule, kings usually have others that assist him in these decisions, such as his kinsman.  During the play Macbeth, the protagonist Macbeth turns from a normal human being to a tyrant through the abuse of his power.
      Kings and tyrants are two very different types of rulers.  In short, kings rule their kingdoms fairly while tyrants rule unjustly.  A tyrant normally makes rash and unjust decisions.  In the example of the tyrant Macbeth, he abuses his power by ordering the murder of his own people.  Through these harsh actions to their people, tyrants tend to oppress specific groups of people, such as Adolf Hitler who oppressed the Jews or King George III who oppressed the American colonies.  Both of these tyrants took advantage of the people under their rule and treated them unjustly without a rational reason. 
      In the play Macbeth, the protagonist Macbeth begins his role as an honorable kinsman and thane to the king Duncan, however slowly falls into the role of a tyrant throughout the play.  His loyalty to kingdom grants him a high place in society as the Thane of Glamis as well as Thane of Cawdor.  Despite being such an honorable and noble man, Macbeth easily becomes corrupted with his ambition to be king through heavy influences of his wife, Lady Macbeth.  This corruption into tyranny truly begins when Macbeth kills Duncan.  From there on, he kills anybody that stands in his way, becoming more irrational in the matter as he struggles to cope with the accumulating guilt.  Macbeth ends up killing Banquo, his close and loyal friend, Macduff’s innocent and defenseless family, and young Siward throughout his dark and corrupted life.  Through these actions, Macbeth seals his fate as a horrible tyrant who abused his power and began a mass string of slaughters in his kingdom.
     Throughout history the role of a tyrant shaped how the following history would play out.  A similar case is seen in the play Macbeth.  Had Macbeth not killed Duncan and let his fate play out naturally, King George treated the English colonies as equal people, or Adolf Hitler ruled Germany without creating a mass dictatorship, the time period would have experienced a different path of history, ultimately changing the modern world.  Tyrants rule oppressively and unjustly, and real and fictional people have paid the price for their cruelty.
Chris Harris

Gender-Based Violence

     In Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, gender and violence are two of the major themes. In the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is seen as the dominant partner controlling and manipulating Macbeth in murdering the wise King Duncan. In Act 1 scene 5 line 15 Lady Macbeth criticizes Macbeth of being without ambition, lacking ruthlessness and being too tenderhearted. She also challenges Macbeth’s masculinity and calls him a coward. Macbeth retaliates by saying that murder is neither empowering nor respectable. Lady Macbeth then adds,

      “Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood; Stop up th’access and passage to remorse… Come to my woman’s breasts and take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers… Come, thick night, and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell…” (Act I Sc. 5, 40-45)

The role of man and woman switches at this moment, and Lady Macbeth is first to take action while Macbeth is still worried and uncertain whether to murder the King or not. Lady Macbeth is saying to take her femininity and fertility away to make her a cold hearted beast from hell (also known as a man to Shakespeare) so that she could be able to murder King Duncan. However, it is important to notice how role of gender is restored near the end of the play when Lady Macbeth is excluded from all decisions and finally commits suicide. Nevertheless, the role of men in the play remains the same throughout the play. When Ross informs Macduff that his castle has been taken and his wife and children have been savagely slaughtered, he becomes very upset and on the verge of tears. Malcolm then steps in and tells Macduff to “Dispute it like a man.” (Act 4 Sc. 3, 220) In other words, he tells him to address the issue with dignity and steadfastness. He tells him to convert his grief into anger and take action. Shakespeare portrays men as being cold blooded monsters and approaching any situation acting in a less sensitive manner is unacceptable.

Ed Baugier