Macbeth is portrayed in two different versions, in Polanski’s film version (1971) and in Shakespeare. In Shakespeare’s version Macbeth is depicted as a victim of his own actions, and in Polanski’s, Macbeth is characterized as a victim of fate. This is shown in Act Two, Scene Two and Act Three, Scene Six and Act Five, Scene Five. These scenes give a close analysis of Macbeth’s behaviour. Observing the juxtaposition in these two scenes with Polanski’s Macbeth with the influence of the witches, Lady Macbeth, and Macbeth’s role of ambition and his weaknesses. In Shakespeare, Macbeth is interpreted as being intrusive with evil as he and Lady Macbeth both make deliberate choices to do evil deeds. As a victim of fate Macbeth is deemed to some extent not accountable for his actions, but as a victim of his own actions, Shakespeare makes him subjective to the consequences by his own behaviour.
Firstly, In Shakespeare’s version of Macbeth is delineated as a victim of his own actions, with his overpowering ambition and tendency to self-doubt. This is identified in Act Two, Scene Two where Macbeth converses with Lady Macbeth about the death of Duncan. Lady Macbeth is given a reason to condescend and patronize Macbeth because of his self paralysing guilt, which lead him thoughtlessly not leaving the bloody daggers at the murder scene, leaving Lady Macbeth the dangerous task of returning the daggers, due to Macbeth’s plagued worry. ‘I’ll go no more. I am afraid to think what I have done” (P.39). This demonstrates Macbeths’ weakness in character, also juxtaposes with Lady Macbeth as she is a strong character and shows that Macbeth is easily manipulated. The epiphany of the situation shows Macbeth’s realization of the crime he has committed. His melodramatic response creates the effect of his developing malevolence.
In Comparison to Shakespeare’s version of Macbeth, Polanski illustrates Macbeth as a fear filled victim of fate, which is revealed in Act Two, Scene Two due to close ups of his shocked expressions, creating empathy towards him. Macbeth’s face is shadowed in this scene, evoking a feeling of sadness. “To know my deed, ‘Twere best not know myself.’ (P.40) This confirms that the deed Macbeth committed was not a true portrayal of his character and he was filled with guilt, as Lady Macbeth easily manipulated him.
This suggestion that he would rather be unconscious then to know the crime he had just committed, symbolises the influence that Lady Macbeth had over Macbeth with the murder of Duncan, as he is consumed with guilt and anxiety after the murder and Lady Macbeth remains calm and composed. The idiom of him saying this is peculiar to his character, as he is believed to be a strong war hero; this gives the effect of Macbeth’s true feelings towards his murder.
While both composers have different representations of Macbeth, one being a victim of fate and the other a victim of his own action, Polanski uses a range of visual techniques as he eliminates a lot of dialogue from the play. Polanski choose to stage the death of Duncan, whereas Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth as an offstage action. Shakespeare signifies Macbeth as a victim of his own actions by the relationship shaped between the audience and Macbeth and with the violent imagery and figurative language.
Secondly, in Polanski’s film version of Macbeth he is rendered as a victim of fate, and this is established in Act Five, Scene Five with the death of Lady Macbeth.
“She should have died hereafter… Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player… It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” This shows Macbeths lack of compassionate manners through his apathy and bathos towards her death. It also shows how pessimistic he was at the time of Lady Macbeth’s death. The metaphor about life being an illusion induces a deeper connection with Macbeth as it shares his inner thoughts about his attitude towards his lack of