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Violence in Macbeth Essay

“Macbeth” is one of the most successful plays written by William Shakespeare. The play involves a lot of murders and cruelty, whereas the main character of the play, Lady Macbeth turns out to be the personification of cruelty and bloodthirstiness.

At first glance, “Macbeth” is quite a violent play, where murders are mainly directed for the one principal goal – the throne, which the main characters crave for. However, it is important to distinguish honorable and dishonorable violence. To put it more precisely, Macbeth and his wife are apparently inclined to dishonorable violence. They are methodically exterminating all the obstacles on the way of Macbeth to the throne. They murder the king and other people who can be dangerous to Macbeth as a future king. In such a way, they violate all moral norms and act dishonorably. Their violent methods are immoral and their murders are motivated by the desire of taking the throne, i.e. by their vanity. In stark contrast, Macduff is motivated by a noble desire to revenge on the murderer of the king who usurped the throne. In such a context, his struggle against Macbeth which ends up with the execution of Macbeth is a kind of honorable violence because it looks like a punishment of a criminal by a noble man, devoted to his king and country. Therefore, his violent acts are manifestations of the honor and nobleness of Macduff. In fact, even actions of Macbeth could be viewed, in a way, as being justified because it was his wife, Lady Macbeth, who was behind all those murders her husband commits and she does it out of sheer vanity and desire to become the Queen.

In such a way, Lady Macbeth is the personification of evil. Unlike men, Lady Macbeth proves to be a woman, who is plotting and scheming. In this regard, Shakespeare stresses that men are always open in their evil intentions: “There’s daggers in men’s smiles”. (Act II, Scene III). This means that intentions of men can be seen clearly. In this regard, Lady Macbeth is quite different because she is similar to those witches predicting the fate of her husband. At this point, it is possible to trace the common characteristic of women, which are evil and scheming. For instance, it is possible to refer to the famous witches’ scene: “When shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain? When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle ‘s lost and won”. (Act I, Scene I).

In this regard, Lady Macbeth is also cruel and it is she, who is actually responsible for all the murders that take place in the course of the play. Her husband becomes the mere tool in hands of Lady Macbeth. Remarkably, Lady Macbeth has no regrets about her evil actions: “What’s done is done”. (Act III, Scene II).

At the same time, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that Lady Macbeth does not act directly. She attempts to avoid killing with her own hands by all means. Instead, she is always plotting and pushing her husband and other people to commit murders and other crimes. In fact, she turns out to be a sort of evil genius, who is scheming and plotting and attempts to stay above the fight, maintaining her face as if nothing has happened.

On the other hand, she cannot avoid remorse which pursues her in the end of the play. She feels being guilty for all those murders and crimes she has committed along with her husband. However, her husband may be also viewed as her victim because he could have never committed a single murder, if she had not forced him to do. As a result, Lady Macbeth is the true personification of evil in the play and it is her evil mind that has organized and planned the terrible murders and let rivers of blood flow.

In spite of numerous murders and bloodshed, “Macbeth” can be viewed as a plea for peace and human harmony because the author shows that practically all the murders were committed in vain. Macbeth was misled by witches and all his life turned out to be a failure, while the murders were absolutely senseless. In such a way, Shakespeare claims to reason and humanism of the audience. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth personifies evil, the person, who plots and creates schemes in attempt to manipulate other people. In this regard, Lady Macbeth is similar to such bloodthirsty political leaders as Stalin, who manipulated other people to hold his power. In fact, Lady Macbeth resembles Stalin in her intention to control and manipulate all the people but, at the same time, keep her hands clean from the blood of the slaughtered people, although the murders are committed on the order of Lady Macbeth as the murders were committed on the order of Stalin.


Works Cited:

Shakespeare, W. Macbeth. New York: Penguin Classics, 2005.