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As a whole, the story of Macbeth and his downfall is tragic.When looking at the place Macbeth started, as a valiant hero who turns into a fiend, it gives light to the meaning of tragedy. Macbeth started on one spectrum and fell into another which was filled with darkness, hatred, and blood driven ambition. The raw emotions that came from being fueled by such things changed him, with all of the cruelty seemingly becoming “for the cause”, and not out of pure yearning for power. Macbeth suffered from a magnitude of cruelty from his wife which pushed him to become the very same sadistic person as she. Cruelty overtook the entire play with a strong presences within the main characters, altering them and changing how they would normally behave. Macbeth is fueled by the cruelty inflicted by his wife which triggers his lapse in sanity, personality, and his social contingency throughout the play.
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The antagonist, Lady Macbeth, was the root of cruelty in this Shakespearean tragedy in a multitude of ways. Lady Macbeth was the tipping domino and Macbeth was nothing more than a victim under her tantalizing mockery. The Lady in Act 1, Scene 5 calls upon any evil to form her cruelty and to lose her femininity in order to achieve her darkest of desires: “Come You spirits that tend on mortal thoughts Unsex me here And fill me from the crown to the toe topful Of direst cruelty.” Lady Macbeth wished an obscene amount of cruelty to wash over her and drench her from head to toe. This is to aid her in doing the things she knows she will have to do because her husband is , “too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness” and will not be up to the task of taking on any obstacles head on. Lady Macbeth did not have any need to do these things herself, therefore she nudged Macbeth with mockery and cruel, child-like teasing to pressure him into killing for a cause that mattered to herself.
Once Macbeth was pushed over the edge by his wife to kill King Duncan, it was evident he was beginning to lose his ability to think clearly. His sanity lapsed in a way that made him paranoid and he began hallucinating. In Act 2, Scene 1 Macbeth starts to slowly lose his mind, seeing things that are not concrete, “I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain?” Macbeth’s mind slipped away at a pace like an hourglass, slow and unnoticed by those around him of how he was losing his grip with reality. The fevered vision he had when he ventured to kill Duncan was nothing more than his guilty conscience warning him of what was to come if he continued. The blood stains his hands even after they are clean, which emphasizes the resentment he has in the first place, being burdened with the guilt of his actions.
Macbeth’s personality changed by the cruelty in obvious ways from the beginning of the play. In Act 1, Scene 2 Macbeth is praised for being a valiant hero “For brave Macbeth — well he deserves that name — Disdaining Fortune, with his brandish’d steel, Which smoked with bloody execution, Like valour’s minion carved out his passage Till he faced the slave.” Macbeth began as a brave hero who was spoken highly of, this knowingly being before his wife was introduced and her cruelty was bombarded onto him. Lady Macbeth spoke of Macbeth as a man who was too kind. In Act 1, Scene 3 Macbeth’s ambition starts to take a grasp on his conscience but he is still within the realm of practical thinking. “Why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair, And make my seated heart knock at my ribs,
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Against the use of nature?” Macbeth still has a grasp on his thoughts at this point and he still has yet to meet with Lady Macbeth , who will corrupt his thinking. After short discussion with Lady Macbeth he is influenced to change everything that he believed because of how cruel and tantalizing her manner was towards him. Macbeth becomes a new person at this point inn the play because of Lady Macbeth. “I am settled, and bend up Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest show: False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” Becoming a victim from cruelty such as her, mocking his manhood and being a “soft man” made him into the man that she thought that she wanted. This moment in time was when he changed for the worst: he gave into to his spouses constricting ownership over him.
When Macbeth gave into ambition by the help of his wife’s cruelty, he developed a shift in social skills and started to have trust issues with everyone. Macbeth’s friend Banquo was his first planned kill after the king, all because he felt threatened with the witches prophecy. Macbeth also had Malcolm’s family and servants killed at the height of his paranoia all because he was thinking that everyone was out to get him. A major relationship in Macbeth’s life that changed was when his wife, Lady Macbeth died, he brushes it off as if it were common news when at the beginning of the play he claimed her as the love of his life. Surprisingly though Macbeth’s paranoia led him to have an overbearing amount of confidence that once he kill’s these people that it is set in stone that there will not be others. This overconfidence was established by the witches who teased Macbeth with their riddling prophecies that were cryptic leading to his cruel death. Macbeth’s death was cruel as he was given false hope over the expansion of the play only to have done everything and in the end had nothing to gain.
The Tragedy of Macbeth is the host of a cruel story of how letting others influence how you think, resulting in every decision not being for oneself but for the succession of others. Macbeth lets others influence him through crude and teasing remarks and ends up being scorned by his own weakness. He was crushed under the weight of ambition and he embodied the emotions he needed to succeed whether they were cruel, tyrannous, or treacherous in nature .
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