English 10 Honors
May 17, 2012
Lust for Power
The spiral of the human psyche from lucidity to lunacy is a fascinating study. In the tragedy Macbeth by William Shakespeare, the audience is drawn into the moral quandary that is Macbeth’s desire for power and the undoing of his coherent mind. Lust for power causes Macbeth to make evil decisions that create madness.
Macbeth is tempted and convinced to sin for power. After meeting the witches with Banquo, the idea of Macbeth as king was just a mere, unrealistic idea. But when Macbeth is in fact named Thane of Cawdor, as the witches predicted, the idea becomes a real possibility. He and Lady Macbeth discuss the witches’ predictions. Much to their satisfaction, King Duncan is staying at Macbeth's castle for the night. Lady Macbeth takes this as a perfect opportunity to murder Duncan, making Macbeth the king. In his first true soliloquy, Macbeth weighs the outcomes of killing Duncan from various standpoints. He first contemplates the fact that if he were to be caught, he might end up getting killed himself. Second, Macbeth knows that it is morally wrong. He has always been a loyal cousin to Duncan, and now as his host, he does not think that it is principled to kill him. This shows Macbeth’s drive for power already, being that his own life already supersedes his moral character. He also considers that if he were to pull it off, it
Gies 2 would be very difficult to follow this murder. The lies he’d tell and actions he’d take would amass quickly, eventually getting him caught in the end. Macbeth wishes to first enjoy his new title, and fears what would happen if they fail. But Lady Macbeth tries to persuade Macbeth by calling him a coward and questioning his manhood. She knows that his want for power and progression is so great that he could easily be convinced. She prepares a plan that appears foolproof to Macbeth. Looking past all of these things, Macbeth agrees with her. His yearning for power is so great that he his willing to murder his own cousin, risking his own life as well. This is madness in itself.
In Macbeth’s second soliloquy, another step is made towards his first of many evil decisions. This is one of the many signs of Macbeth's true power lust. It shows that he does not need to be convinced anymore, but that he has convinced himself. In this scene, Macbeth hallucinates, seeing a floating dagger. “Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses, / Or else worth all the rest: I see thee still” (II.i.44-45). In a way, the dagger is teasing him and testing his will power. The fact that he is having the hallucination though, shows that his hunger for power has completely taken over his rational thought. Macbeth’s need for advancement and achievement has become so crucial to him that minutes after the phantasm, he kills Duncan. After the murder, Macbeth hallucinates once again. He claims to hear voices calling to him, saying “’Sleep no more! / Macbeth does murder sleep’” (II.ii.35-36). Macbeth not only murders
Duncan’s sleep, but his own. This first wicked act of regicide keeps Macbeth from sleeping; this is an indication of insanity.
Madness is also shown the day after Duncan’s death. Paranoid that he will be framed or killed, Duncan's son, Macduff, flees Scotland. Being that there is no blood heir to the throne, Macbeth is next in line. Immediately after he is crowned, a change of the physical atmosphere occurs in Scotland:
Thou seest, the heavens, as troubled with a man’s act, Threaten his bloody stage: by the clock ‘tis day, And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp. Is’t night’s predominance, or the day’s shame, That darkness does the face of earth entomb, When living light should kiss it? (II.iv.5-9)
The solar eclipse that Shakespeare is describing alludes to Macbeth’s lust for power, eclipsing his lucid thought. Further, “A falcon, towering in her pride of place, / Was by a mousing owl…