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A Comparison of Macbeth with Other Texts

In: English and Literature

Submitted By charlsmith1111
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Shakespeare won’t have included this scene just as a way to present the disturbed characters; he will have included it to impress the people watching the play. Religious believers in that time believed in the idea of the religious order, which was the belief that God has created an ordered system for both nature and human kind, every creature/person has a place and the order should not be disrupted. Including the porter scene in the play would of reinforced this belief, as the King was seen to be at the top of this ordered system, meaning once he was murdered this order had been disrupted. This scene showed some the effects of the link between man and God being severed through Pathetic Fallacy. Another way in which Shakespeare would have tried to impress his audience, mainly the monarch at the time (King James 1st) was through the character Banquo. King James believed himself to be a descendent of Banquo, therefore he was written to be a noble, wise and regal man whose good qualities tended to make some of the other characters, particularly Macbeth, envy him. King James 1 considered himself to be an expert on witchcraft, he wrote a book which stated that witches made a pact with the devil, so including the evil ways of the witches and showing them to be dark creatures that turn good loyal men into murderers would have pleased the King as that is how he viewed them himself.
If you continue to look into Macbeth’s character, he starts to spiral out of control very quickly. He starts to fear betrayal, which is extremely ironic considering the amount he has already betrayed his king and his country. “But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo, stick deep; and in his royalty of nature.” Macbeth is worrying whether he can trust Banquo because of him witnessing Macbeth’s conversation with the witches; this is the point where Macbeth decides that it would be easier to kill Banquo than to risk being caught. He is talking in very short sentences, which may have been done to show Macbeth’s fear and nerves towards the situation. He knows what he has done and he knows that the consequences will result in his death, which ultimately means him losing the power he has gained for himself. This shows just how disturbed Macbeth character has become, reaching the stage where he thinks of murder as a very insignificant thing, he is willing to kill anybody who threatens his position of power and control. This side of his character links him to the character Salome, in one of the other texts that I have studied (a poem by Carol Ann Duffy named after that character). She is presented as a serial killer right from the start of the poem by saying “I’d done it before” and then goes on to say very casually “I woke up to a head on the pillow beside me – whose?” referring to the head of a man which she had killed previously only to behead him and place his head on the pillow next to her to sleep next to it. This shows that she, like Macbeth, views murder as insignificant. This poem was not written in the same era as Macbeth was written, but the audience would have still responded in a similar way. It makes you feel how disturbed the character has become / how disturbed the character is.
Salome however, does not have the extreme fear of betrayal and the trust issues which Macbeth has, but he does share this trait with The Duke, from another poem which I have studied, named “My last duchess” by Robert Browning. He says “She thanked men – good! But thanked – somehow – I know not how.” In this quote, he is discussing his last duchess and hinting that he believed that she was unfaithful towards him. The way he speaks in this quote is very broken up, which could either show his anger towards the situation or it could show that he was unsure whether to share the information, as not to make himself look as if he couldn’t control his wife. This would have been more important during that time as women were still seen in a stereotypical way, they were meant to be mild and feminine whereas the man would have all the power. Throughout the poem he continues to make comments about how she looked at other men, which shows that he was so scared of being betrayed by her and having his pride wounded, that he noticed everything she did and said to other men. “She liked whatever she looked on, and her looks went everywhere.” He is also a very arrogant character, in one case referring to himself as on the level of a God, “Notice Neptune, though, taming a seahorse.” He is comparing himself to Neptune, the God of the sea who carried the trident and was extremely powerful, and then comparing his last duchess to the seahorse that needed to be controlled or “tamed”. It could be said that his excessive pride was his Hubris that lead to him committing Hamartia, him killing his wives whenever they go against the way he views in his head that they should act, will eventually lead to his downfall as a character.
The Duke is very similar to Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in many ways, but mainly in the way he wishes to have complete control. Macbeth loves to have control and power over people, hence his overwhelming ambition to become a man in a high position who is able to have power over anybody he wishes. Lady Macbeth likes to control Macbeth, and is able to do so by taking advantage of the fact he is easily manipulated and has weaknesses within his character, so that she can feel herself that she is a strong powerful woman. The Duke keeps a curtain over the painting of his last duchess so that he can have control over her even after she is dead. “Since none puts by the curtain I have drawn for you, but I.” The Duke speaks very confidently here because he knows that he is in control, he controls who looks at the painting but also who the painting is able to look at. Robert Browning has made it so that the painting has been personified by The Duke, showing that he is unable to let go of what happened and has become obsessed with ensuring that she is incapable of looking at other men, even after he has made it impossible for her to do so by killing her.
Obsession is something which is common among disturbed characters, Lady Macbeth becomes obsessed with a spot of blood on her hand which she sees in her sleep and attempts several times to wash off but is never successful. At this stage Lady Macbeth is at the main part of her downfall which is clear to the audience through the way she becomes manic in her speech. “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” She is trying to remain in control by commanding the spot just like she has previously in the play when talking to Macbeth, but she is failing. This scene links back to what Macbeth said after killing Duncan, “Macbeth does murder sleep.” It is not only Macbeth who has killed the peace inside of him, Lady Macbeth has also become so deeply disturbed by the events that she is unable to sleep because of what she has done. Still, before this point in the play Lady Macbeth has shown to be a lot more focussed and determined than Macbeth, “Are you a man?” This type of behaviour breaks a lot of the stereotypes around women in that era. A Jacobean audience would have been shocked by this because it was not seen as a normal thing for the woman of the relationship to appear more able than the man. A modern audience may react differently considering the developments within society’s view of women. However, there are points in the play where she doubts herself as a woman and sees it as a disadvantage to her. In her soliloquy Lady Macbeth says “unsex me” and “thicken my blood.” She wishes to be “unsexed” because she doesn’t think that she can do anything as well as she could if she didn’t have her gender holding her back and she wants her blood to be thickened so that she doesn’t have to feel pity or guilt, meaning that she can be as evil as she wishes and have no mental related consequences. Shakespeare includes the several soliloquies during the play so that the audience get a view of the true thoughts and feelings of the disturbed characters; this is part of the way the disturbed characters are presented to us as the audience.
Lady Macbeth’s extreme guilt towards what she has done is something which is the complete opposite to the character Salome, the poem has a very casual tone throughout as if she doesn’t really care about what she has done, whereas Macbeth has a very tense atmosphere throughout most of the play. For example, Salome begins talking about breakfast while she has the head of a dead man next to her in her bed. “I knew I’d feel better, for tea, dry toast, no butter.” Salome feels no guilt for what she does; this is shown when she says “In Salome’s bed.” She is referring to herself in the third person which shows that she may feel as if she is not responsible for her actions meaning that she doesn’t have to feel guilty about what she does. She feels as if it is another person doing the things she does. Alternatively, talking about herself in the third person could also show that she is big headed and just enjoys mentioning her own name. This is also shown when she says “In the mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.” She is clearly very narcissistic, which is a common trait of a disturbed character. This will have been included so that the extent of Salome’s disturbed mind can be clearly shown to the reader. Salome and The Duke share similar traits, such as their excessive arrogance / self-assurance. Salome has a high level of intelligence, which is presented to us by the author when Salome shows that she plays clear attention to detail, again, this is a trait that is shared by many people with disturbed minds. “Her innocent clatter, of cups and plates, her clearing of clutter.” The repetition of the “C” sound may sound like “cut” which relates to what Salome did to her victims (beheaded them). When choosing her victims it seems that Salome goes for men with biblical names, “What was his name? Peter? Simon? Andrew? John?” this could show that she has something against religion or that each of the men did something which was a sin, meaning in her mind they deserved to die for disgracing their religious name. This is a strong link back to Macbeth, the theme of the religious order being destroyed and the link between God and man being severed.…...

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