Macbeth: Power Motif
Throughout the Shakespearean play of “Macbeth” many motifs have been recognized.
Motifs are reoccurring events that help establish or develop a theme. They are repetitive acts of themes that dominate the literary work and context. During this play, some examples of strong motifs have been animal imagery, apparel imagery, child/childhood imagery, disease/heath imagery, light/dark imagery, and many more. There are many examples throughout this play that assure that the power motif is the strongest and most occurring. For instance, some examples include: Lady Macbeth manipulated her husband on his power rampage by first killing
Duncan; Macbeth had the three murderers try to kill Banquo and Fleance; Macbeth shrugs off his wife’s sudden death. All of these examples have led to nothing but repetitive dramatic event leading to nothing but failure in the end.
This motif was first in progress starting from the letter Macbeth sent to Lady Macbeth stating the prophecies. In the Scene 5 summary of Act 1 it says “She is determined Macbeth will be king. However, she fears he lacks the courage to kill Duncan.” From this point, the first prophecy has already come true so Lady Macbeth tries to manipulate and persuade her husband into killing Duncan so he can become the new Thane. She feels this is the fastest way for her husband to become king and live out his destiny. This plan sets into place as Duncan and his party arrives at the Macbeth residence awaiting the arrival of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is very hyped up about this plan that she needs to make sure her husband does not blow his cover and show it on his face. “Your face, my thane, is as a book where men may read strange matters.
To beguile the time, look like the time. Bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue.”
(1.6.5962). Macbeth then leaves Duncan at the table and ponders his second thoughts about his murderous acts. However, before he has a chance to reconsider, Lady Macbeth charges in and accuses him of being a coward since no true man would back out of their commitment. At this point, Lady Macbeth has persuaded her husband to follow through with the plan. Lady Macbeth hints to her husband that it is time and Macbeth stabs Duncan with the daggers. Not only has this act started Macbeth on the way towards becoming the new king but it has also started Macbeth onto the route of appalling behavior and the willingness to kill anyone that interferes with him becoming king. This motif contributes to the fact that power is more important than anything. This prophecy helps exemplify how power is a major factor in this act because clearly Lady Macbeth wants nothing but to know her husband is the head of royalty. Her motives to manipulate
Macbeth show the higher range of power she has and how she is only concerned about gaining more. In other words, getting what she wants is more important than caring if it involves stabbing friends along the way to get there. Therefore, the prophecy is filled and the power motif finally sets in.
After the death of King Duncan, Macbeth’s confidence sets in. Macbeth expresses his hatred towards Banquo because of the next prophecy. This prophecy, told by the witches, exclaims that Banquo and his son, Fleance, are the next in line to become the King. Macbeth is already so into gaining more power that he hires three murderers to help him with his plan on murdering them. “It is concluded. Banquo, they soul’s flight, if it find heaven, must find it out tonight.”(3.2.140141). This quote notifies that Macbeth is in such a rush to become king that he wants the three murderers to get rid of Banquo and his son before the banquet the following
night so that they will have no chance in stepping up to fulfill the witches’ prophecy of them.
These craves of power Macbeth is starting to have has shown that he could care less about anyone but himself. He knows he…