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William Shakespeare The Theme Of Corruption English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1060 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Lady Macbeth poses a corrupting effect on Macbeth during the play. “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” Lady Macbeth here, questions his manliness as she knows that he would do anything to prove his masculinity and perform the deeds which she wanted him to do. Lady Macbeths aggressive and ambitious nature is what I believe enables her to come across with such force and encouraged her husband to carry out the murder. Therefore she was the reason his previous moral views were corrupted.

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The witches (or weïrd sisters) play on Macbeths great ambition for power, which in due course causes his honourable views to be corrupted and for him to turn into a killer. “All hail, Macbeth! that shalt be king hereafter.” This is the point in which Macbeth finds out his prophecy in which he will be king. Macbeth welcomes the ideas given by the witches’ prophecies, which triggers the spiral of events in this story, leading to the corruption of Macbeths prior nobility and loyal mindset.

By Macbeths murder of Duncan, the order of the universe was corrupted. It is accompanied by a number of unnatural occurrences in the weather. From the thunder and lightning that accompany the witches’ appearances to the terrible storms that rage on the night of Duncan’s murder, these violations of the natural order reflect corruption in the moral and political orders. Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble. This message from the witches refers to the weather, and how the world has reverted to chaos as a result of the order of the universe being altered.

The night has been unruly. Where we lay, Our chimneys were blown down and, as they say Lamentings heard i’ th’air, strange screams of death, And prophesying, with accents terrible Of dire combustion and combustion and confused events New hatched to th’ woeful time. The obscure bird Clamoured the livelong night. Some say the earth was feverous and did shake.

Nature is showing the chaos caused by Duncan’s death as Macbeths actions were morally wrong. The winds of the night of Duncan’s death are personified as they are screaming death. The night is also personified as it clamoured. There was confusion. This is similar to the time in the bible when Jesus Christ died after being tortured on the cross. There was great thunder and chaos in the skies and on earth. The darkness which was present after the murder of the king, could possibly represent evil which is what in reality, caused Macbeth to perform the actions he did, through the witches.

Deception is an important theme in the understanding of the corruption of the Macbeth’s views in the play. From the very first scene, the deception within Macbeth’s world is clearly shown. “Fair is foul and foul is fair”, say the witches at the beginning of Macbeth. This language of contradiction that Shakespeare uses adds to the play’s sense of moral confusion and quickly introduces the theme of deception to the audience, by implying that nothing is quite as it seems.  look like th’ innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t This is what Lady Macbeth tells her husband to do in order that he would fulfil the murder of the king successfully. She states that he must look innocent in order to prove his purity so he can kill Duncan without anybody expecting it was him. This conveys the theme of corruption as it shows a corruptness of his state of mind caused by his determination and eagerness.

Another factor of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth which shows the theme of corruption is how Macbeth is plotting to kill his best friend, Banquo. Macbeths power and ambition to become king leads to fear, doubt and lack of trust between Banquo and himself which leads to the isolation of Macbeth from god, his friends and his society.

Be innocent of the knowledge dearest chuck Macbeth, here, is saying his thought aloud about his plan to murder Banquo. Lady Macbeth overhears and asks him about it. Macbeth wants to keep his plan secret so he asks that his wife be “innocent of the knowledge” of his plans to kill him but tells her not to worry as when his plan is completed that they will be at an advantage. Macbeth performed this deed as he wanted to eliminate competition for the throne. This conveys the image of his corrupt mind state at this point in the play as he is going to break the trust between him and his best friend, by assassinating him.

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Macbeths soliloquy in Act 1 scene 3 following the witches prophecy shows us that Macbeth has murderous thoughts in his head early on in the play which corrupts his previous noble and loyal mind. He wonders whether the reign will simply fall to him or whether he will have to perform a dark deed in order to gain the crown. He states that Banquo is the only man in Scotland which he fears, and this is because he thinks that Banquo lies in the way of his prophecy of becoming the next king. If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me, Without my stir

By “chance”, Macbeth refers to the weird sisters’ prediction that he will be king. He realises that if being king is his destiny, he doesn’t have to do anything (“without my stir”) to make it happen. Macbeth doesn’t want to kill King Duncan, but realises that if that is what it takes to gain the throne, then he will have to do it. This corrupts his previous state of mind as it shows he is willing to be disloyal to his country and commit regicide in order to get his own way.

In conclusion, the points discussed above gain the audience’s understanding of the theme of corruption through Macbeths aside comments, relationships with other characters in the play, his ambition to fulfil his goals and his loyal frame of mind. The theme of corruption is introduced to us by the use of supernatural and the theme of ambition. The witches tell him a prophecy, by which he follows from then on and is determined to accomplish it.


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