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Macbeth And Machiavelli Essay, Research Paper

From top to bottom of the ladder, greed is aroused without knowing where to find

ultimate foothold. Nothing can calm it, since its goal is far beyond all it can

attain. Reality seems valueless by comparison with the dreams of fevered

imaginations; reality is therefor abandoned. «Many have dreamed up

republics and principalities that have never in truth been known to exist; the

gulf between how one should live and how one does live is so wide that a man who

neglects what is actually done for what should be done learns the way to self

destruction rather than self-preservation.» Italian political philosopher

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) states that greed leads men to their downfall, a

concept which is paralleled with Shakespeare?s play, Macbeth. This play is the

representation of human society in which Macbeth represents man. The play opens

with 3 witches who honor Macbeth with three titles: «Thane of Glamis»

(his present title), «Thane of Cawdor» (his son to be announced title)

and the prophecy that he will be «king hereafter.» Macbeth who is

roused by his vaulting ambitions, lust for power, tempted by these titles,

murders his rivals to the throne with his wife. As a result of his ruthless

quest for power leads him to his fate. Erich Fromm (1900-1980), a psychologist

once stated «greed is a bottomless pit which haunts man in an endless

effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction. He who comes

along greed is condemned to this bottomless pit.» Shakespeare demonstrates

that greed that harms others, destroys the holder: mentally and morally, and

eventually leads to ones ultimate destruction. When man is driven by greed to

achieving their goal, they are stripped away of their morals and ethics. Macbeth

is fighting a war, a deadly game where man takes advantage of others to win and

claim the title of king. «if it were done when ?tis done, then ?twere

well it were done quickly. If the assassination could trammel up the

consequence, and catch, with the surcease, success; that but this blow might be

the be-all and the end-all here, but here, upon this bank and shoal of time,

we?d jump the life to come. But in these cases we still have judgement here;

that we but teach bloody instruction, which being taught, return to the plague

of inventor: this even handed justice condemns the ingredients of our poison?d

chalice to our own lips. » (Act I, Scene VII) Macbeth has confused feelings

about murdering Duncan, his «worthiest cousin.» He hesitates to murder

Duncan because he is scared of the consequences which may somehow «return

and plague» him. He questions to himself, «how would his new subjects

react?» However, his ambition numbs the fear and the conscience concerning

consequences and his morals. At this point, he is already morally degraded.

Macbeth does not question the morality of the actions of what he is about to

take but instead worries about the consequences he may have to face if he fails.

Thus Macbeth does not fear or feel any moral remorse in committing the murder

itself. «Our fears in Banquo stick deep; and in his royalty of nature

reigns that which would be fear?d: ?tis much he dares: and to that dauntless

temper of his murder he hath a wisdom that doth guide his valour to act in

safety. There is none but he whose being I do fear: and under him, my genius is

rebuked. » ( Act III, Scene II) Macbeth is irritated by Banquo, whose

existence is a hinderence towards his fulfillment of the prophecies. «My

lord, his (Banquo?s) throat is cut; that I did for him. » (Act III, Scene

II) Macbeth deals with this by murdering Banquo. However, this time he does not

contemplate over whether or not to murder Banquo but the actions he takes are

caprice. By the end of the play, Macbeth does not feel a bit of hesitation to

taking the life of another. «Seize upon Fife; give to the edge o? the

sword his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line.

» (Act IV, SceneI) Greed degrades a man?s morals by blinding him of them,

only allowing a narrowed vision of only their ambition. Greed destroys man from

many aspects which one happens to be mentally. Although not directly,

greed-driven actions bring regret and remorse and thus haunts one with guilt.

The guilt thus condemns the individual of their mental coherence. «Me

thought I heard a voice cry ?Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep. Glamis

hath murdered sleep and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more: Macbeth shall

sleep no more. ?» (Act II, Scene II) Macbeths shows the consequences that

huants him after he murders Duncan. His guilt starts to chip away at his

mentality driving him to insanity. Macbeth?s downfall is brought upon by the

degradation of his mentality. «Avaunt! And quick my sight! Let the earth

hide thee! They bones are marrowless, they blood is cold, though hast no

speculation in those eyes which thou dost glare with.» (Act III, Scene IV).

Macbeth admits to killing Banquo which arouses the suspicion in Macduff who at

the end of the play leads an army that defeats Macbeth. «Out, damn spot!

Out I say! One: two: why then ?tis time to do?t. Hell is murky. Fie, my

lord, fie! A soldier, a feared? What need we fear who knows it, when none can

call our pow?r to accompt? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had

so much blood in him?» (Act V, Scene I) Even Lady Macbeth is haunted with

guilt after assisting Macbeth in murdering Duncan. Lady Macbeth descends to

insanity and gets up every night and washes blood off her hands, a symbolic

representation of the guilt she must live with for the rest of her life. Lady

Macbeth commits suicide because she cannot bare to live with the heavy burden of

guilt on her back anymore. Greed leads both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to their

downfall. Greed and ambitions that harms others destructs the one who posses it.

«all ambitions are lawful except those which climb upward on the miseries

or credulities of mankind. All intellectual and artistic ambitions are

permissible, up to and even beyond the limit of prudent sanity. They can hurt no

one.» States Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), a Polish born English novelist. The

ambitions of Banquo were much more simple and paradoxical than that of Macbeth

and Lady Macbeth. Though Banquo was curious when it concerned the witches

prophesy, he was reluctant to believe it. Banquo was much more simple, honest,

and harmless in character. He did not challenge his own fate like Macbeth and

Lady Macbeth, therefore he did not corrupt himself. Banquo thrusted his

ambitions toward leading an orthodox life, and he did not allow other forces to

interrupt his ambitions such as the witches, his destiny and greed. «why do

you start, and seem to fear things that do not sound so fair? I’the name of

truth, Are ye fantastical, or that indeed which outwardly show? My noble partner

You greet with present grace and great prediction of noble having, and of royal

hope, That he seems rapt withal; to me you speak not: If you can look into the

seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak to me,

who neither not by fear Your favours nor your hate. „(Act I, Scene III)

Banquo was skeptical of the witches prophecy, thus prohibiting their spell to

penetrate his soul, leaving him pure. If Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had not

allowed their greed to take over and cause them to murder Duncan, their outcome

may have been different.

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