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Essay/Term paper: Macbeth

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Shakespeare

Free essays available online are good but they will not follow the guidelines of your particular writing assignment. If you need a custom term paper on Shakespeare: MacBeth, you can hire a professional writer here to write you a high quality authentic essay. While free essays can be traced by Turnitin (plagiarism detection program), our custom written essays will pass any plagiarism test. Our writing service will save you time and grade.

History is made up of many time periods, many of these

periods had a certain norm, and a way of thinking that was

accepted and adopted by the majority of the people. In the

Elizabethan/Jacobean time period the notion accepted and in

place at the time was that of a great chain of being. This

notion in which God is at the top, then comes the planets,

the angels, human kind and finally the animal kingdom. In

fact, it was based on psalm 8 and placed God, the

all-powerful being, on the uppermost link of the chain and

gave him all the power. In order for any other being or thing

to possess power he/it could do so only with the permission

of God or in accordance to the will of God. In The Tragedy

of Macbeth, Shakespeare, pushes the concept of

primogeniture and also the fact that the king is put into

power by the will of God and anyone opposing the king

would not only cause a great disturbance in the great chain

of being but would likewise be going against the will of God.

In doing this, is Shakespeare convincing enough or is this

idea hype and without substance? To explore this notion we

must first look at the characters Shakespeare uses to

promote this notion. An obvious character to start with

would have to be the one who is king at the beginning of the

play. Duncan is a righteous king, one who is greatly

respected by many of his subjects. Even the man, who killed

him, did so, not because of Duncan's unjustly ruling but

rather out of personal greed. Before Macbeth's greed for

power consumed him, he praises Duncan during his struggle

with the decision of whether or not to usurp the throne and

in doing so, cause great chaos according to the great chain

of being. We see this when Macbeth says: "… This Duncan

hath born his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his

great office, that his virtues will plead like angels,

trumpet-tongued, against the deep damnation of his taking

off…." Yet in all his greatness and although chosen

supposedly by God, Duncan was only human and possessed

negative qualities as well. The king, Duncan, was not in

battle (along side his Generals), he is at a nearby camp (I: II,

p1). This suggests that the king is dependent of other for his

own protection. We see the naivete that Duncan possesses

when he says: "He was a gentleman on whom I built an

absolute trust." (I: IV; 15-16, p.11) In fact he complete trust

in a man who was in an enemy. This also demonstrates his

lack in character judgment. Duncan, as all humans, has his

weaknesses but to impartially judge him we must look at him

on a broader spectrum. Duncan is regarded as a good king

by most of his subjects including Macduff when he says to

Malcolm: "Thy royal father was a most sainted king…." (IV:

III; 122-123f, p.71) And rightly so for he surly possesses

worthy king-like qualities, he is not perfect, but one could

conceive how God might give him power. Shakespeare

again, presents his notion of primogeniture when we see the

usurped throne as the cause of this chaos. In order for this

notion to truly work we must now look at the character that

should rightfully be king but because of Macbeth does not

become so until the ending of the play. Malcolm, the elder

son of Duncan, a noble man who, unlike his father, is not

dependant on others to protect him; he has been out fighting

but may not be the greatest war hero. This is seen when he

says: "This is the sergeant who like a good and hardy soldier

fought 'gainst my captivity." (I: II; 4-6f, p.2) He reveals a

cleaver war maneuver that proves to be very successful; he

has every soldier cut down a tree and disguise himself with it

so when they approach Dunsinane and are spotted they

could not be justly counted. We see this when Malcolm

says: "Let every soldier hew him down a bough and bear't

before him. Thereby shall we shadow the number of or host

and make discovery err in report of us." (V: IV; 6-9, p.84)

He shows he is a virtuous and noble man when at the end of

the play he becomes king and promises to repay their debt

(everyone who helped him rightfully gain the throne). He is

appreciative to all these men who helped him in doing so.

We see this when he says: "We shall not spend a large

expense of time before we reckon with your several loves

and make us even with you…So thanks to all at once…."

(V: VII; 71-73f…85f) Despite his cleverness and royalty of

nature, Malcolm too has his negative qualities. Upon seeing

the tragic scene of his father's death, Malcolm is scared

because he sees his father's death and is not sorrowful. He

flees to England because "To show an unfelt sorrow is an

office which the false man does easy" (II: III; 159-160f,

p.34) which leads you to believe that Malcolm did not care

for his father. Again, upon a situation of grief Malcolm

shows little to no emotions but manipulates Macduff; this last

has just received word of the massacre of his family and

Malcolm manipulates his emotions by saying: "Dispute it like

a man." (IV: III; 257, p.76) Furthermore: "Be this the

whetstone of your sword. Let grief Convert to anger; blunt

not the heart, enrage it" (IV: III; 266-267, p.76) Malcolm is

clearly manipulating Macduff and using his misfortune to

prime him for battle. Again, we must judge Malcolm not just

upon a few qualities and weaknesses but on an overall point

of view. Malcolm is the first born son of Duncan, the former

king of Scotland. By birthright alone he is the heir to the

throne, not to mention his various leadership qualities and

that at this particular time just about any one who replaced

Macbeth would do a better job than him. In fact, Malcolm

was just about the complete opposite from Macbeth. We

get the notion that he will reign justly for he has already

promised to repay all the men who helped him regain the

throne. Of coarse sometimes he uses may use conniving

ways to control others; for the most part he is a decent man.

Malcolm starts his reign on a positive note, which leads us to

believe he was given the throne because he was a just man

and it was the will of God. Shakespeare's notion of

primogeniture, influenced by the great chain of being and in

turn the Elizabethan/Jacobean times, is strongly suggested in

this novel. Shakespeare clearly supports this notion through

his portrayal of Duncan and Malcolm. The fact that

Macbeth's reign caused misery and death. "I think our

country sinks beneath the yoke; it weeps, it bleeds, and each

new day a gash is added to her wounds" (IV: III; 45-47f,

p.69), in the words of Malcolm. This leads me to believe

that God is punishing him, in accordance to the great chain

of being. If we look at this in a modern way of thinking we

would say that maybe it was fate or the notion of what goes

around comes around or something in that nature and blame

this for Macbeth's down fall. Shakespeare is seemingly

preoccupied with honor, heroism leadership, and human

identity, in doing so he may well be creating a purely brilliant

piece of literature for dramatic reasons alone, which may

lead to hype. However he supports his notion of

primogeniture thoroughly in Duncan and Malcolm. In the

end, it is much to close to call on way or the other.  

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