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Essay/Term paper: Macbeth: how money killed

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Macbeth

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Macbeth: How Money Killed

Jerry Engstrom

Many of our friends at Wall Street have serious heart problems; some of
them even die years before they should because of the stress that is brought on
by the money and greed of Wall Street. Money is also evident as a health risk
in Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice, both written by William Shakespeare. On
Wall Street people are driven by the greed of the people they represent, their
own greed, and a general atmosphere of greed. In Macbeth, Macbeth is driven by
personal ambition and his wife to become king at any expense, including slaying
some of his personal friends and their families. Also, in The Merchant of
Venice, Shylock the Jew is driven by a hatred for Christians and personal greed.
In both plays the character with the greed driven personality end up on the
short end of the stick.
Macbeth's and Shylock's drive of greed is revealed after just the first
few scenes. Macbeth's drive of greed is evident after his encounter with the
three witches; after which he tells Banquo that he is eager to learn more about
his future as king. Shylock's greed is revealed when we learn that unlike
Bassanio, Shylock charges interest on all his loans, and that he is quite
ruthless in getting payments for money owed. "Three thousand ducats. 'Tis a
good round sum./ Tree months from twelve, then let me see, the /rate--"
(1.3.112-114). Upon this Bassanio asks Shylock if he will really owe him any
interest; Shylock reacts as almost offended, and further explains that Bassanio
will indeed owe him interest. For both Macbeth and Shylock, this is the
beginning of the end.
Macbeth's greed starts to become a problem when people start figuring
out the truth behind Duncan's death. Macbeth realizes that he is well beyond to
point of no return and that the only thing left to do is to keep eliminating
people whom may potentially stand in his way, or hurt his political figure such
as when Macbeth sends orders to have Macduff's family assassinated because
Macduff hurt Macbeth politically by not showing up at the party. "The castle of
Macduff I will surprise/Seize upon Fife; give to th' edge o' th' sword/His wife,
his babes, and all unfortunate souls/That trace him in his line" (4.2.150-153).
Macbeth plots to kill Macduff's wife and child just because he didn't show up at
his party where he was being blundersome any way. Shylock's greed goes from
being a problem for Antonio to being a problem for himself. As Antonio's ships
failed to arrive on time, Shylock wants his part of the agreement fulfilled --
one pound of flesh from Antonio's body is the agreement. Although Antonio
pleads for his life, Shylock's greed is persistent and eventually they go to
court to settle. The tide turns when Portia shows up disguised as a lawyer.
"Of a strange nature is the suit you follow,/Yet in such rule that the Venetian
law/Cannot impugn you as you do proceed./To Antonio. You stand within his danger,
do you/not?" (4.1.180-184). Through some manipulation of interpretation of the
bond, Shylock is forced to give up all that he had worked for in order to not be
put on trial for plotting to murder Antonio. It is now evident that greed will
eventually triumph any man's heart.
Macbeth's greed kills him in the end. "Hail, King! For so thou art:
behold, where/stands/Th' usurper's cursed head. The time is free" (5.8.53-55).
Macbeth's life ends as the witches predicted, thus the tragic plot is complete.
Shylock the Jew's fortune and purpose in life ends as he looses all he owns to
his daughter and her new husband. Both Macbeth and Shylock loose what their
greed got them and end up with nothing to show for it.
Greed may be the biggest killer through out time, surpassing perhaps
cancer and aids. As both Macbeth and Shylock the Jew found out, gluttony may
not be the root to all evil, greed may be. To have ambition and goals is good,
one just have to be careful not to let their goals get too far out of reach.
Perhaps there should be a column in The Wall Street Journal reminding the
employees of the market to take a break once in a while and value what really is
important in life.


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