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Macbeth – Hunger & Humility Essay

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Some say that when offered power, a man would do anything to get it. For example, when Hercules finds out he is a god he didn’t even know his own strength, and he used it in ways that other people didn’t believe were very helpful but soon proved them wrong when he grew up and became more mature and powerful. Hercules wanted to use his newfound power for the well-being of others; however, Macbeth had other plans for his use of power. In William Shakespeare’s tragic novel, Macbeth, a brilliant peacekeeper, Macbeth suffered from the same problem that befell many of the tragic Greek heroes like Oedipus. Despite his eager and insightful vision; he is unable to see himself or the future as clearly as he sees the battlefield before him. Macbeth proves in the story that he is a warrior model, ambitious, arrogant, and masculine all to a fault.

Ambition, the hunger for the purpose-driven achievement, takes Macbeth to stunning extremes. At once intoxicated with his own slyness, he decides to stage a rebellion of his own, and to take the throne promised him by the Three Witches. Stoked by his wife’s ruthless passion, he reaches his high point – and melts down thereafter. “But screw your courage to the sticking-place, and we’ll not fail. When Duncan is asleep where to the rather shall his day’s hard journey soundly invite him his two chamberlains will I with wine and wassail so convince that memory, the warder of the brain” (I.VII. 60-65). Hunger turned ruthless, he finds he has little taste for absolute murder in cold blood, no matter how many he has slain in his path. Confused and pressed towards action, he must engage in dishonesty following the discovery of Duncan’s death, leaving him caught up in self-doubt shortly after. His character has ambition, but lacked the ability to understand the trace of what acting on that ambition may have meant. Others, knowing him as they did, took advantage of him, leading Macbeth to go on a rampage.

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Arrogance plays a large role in this play, driven by confidence and internal conspiracy. Also, defined as an offensive display of self-superiority, here we may take arrogance as a confidence absent the ability to self-affirm. This definition can be seen in many scenes throughout the play. As mentioned before, Macbeth had the courage to commit the deed that started it all, but only when traumatized by his wife. After her support edged away into a nervous craze, he himself falls into doubt, despair, and ultimately a reckless brand of destructiveness. It can be seen again, when the Three Witches play upon his ambition and arrogance, hidden promises slipping through the light armor of his doubt to play upon his heart’s desires. A time when the lack is most clearly seen is when Macbeth drives himself mad, unable to argue successfully with Banquo’s ghost. “Behold! Look! Lo! How say you? Why, what care I? If thou canst nod, speak too” (III. IV.70-71). Unable to confirm his feelings when none but he can see what infect him, he collapses. Seeking support, he finds that the best option is to return to his element and bring himself back to the battlefield, where he can die gloriously doing that which he was always best at.

Maleness was Macbeth’s trademark as the standing alpha male. In this case, masculinity has a collection of traits and habits surrounding it. As the alpha, there are expectations to be met from others, a responsibility to those in his company, and dominance to be maintained for his own sake. Given his arrogance, ambition, and masculinity, he uses these traits to emphasize his character onto the world around him. Assertion, and almost never careful judgment, is his primary tool in the performance. Due to this, Macbeth is sadly unprepared to deal with the events happening around him after his wife dies, whose talent what he lacked. “She should have died hereafter; there would have been a time for such a word. Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; And all of our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death.” (V. V. 17-23). As his reliability dies, doubt is cast upon him both by others and himself. The great lord remains unable to turn his once-sharp intellect inward to look at and create himself, or to moves desperately on, and it is almost too difficult to watch; none enjoy seeing great men fall to their death, especially Macbeth.

Macbeth makes the tragic figure in that he embodies all that is typically asked for in a great hero. He has a sharp ambition that drives the action, pride for years on well-deserved honor, and the ability to force him with the strength needed to uphold the sensational shine around him. And then as the story progresses, because of the same things those we so admired him for, it all turns to dust in a flood of desperation. Unable to manage his emotions or regulate his actions, he is then incapable of dodging or deflecting the consequences that drove him into the ground and over the edge. Macbeth therefore shows that he is a warrior model, ambitious, arrogant, and masculine all to a fault. It is tragic, and it is also heroic, and this is what truly makes Macbeth the perfect example of a tragic hero.

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