Topic: SociologyViolence

Last updated: March 31, 2019

In his tragic play, Shakespeare initially presents violence as an honourable asset that Macbeth is praised for as shown in the extract. However, as the play continues Macbeths violence acts as a catalyst driving him to his downfall, and his tyrannical reign drives Scotland to chaos.In the extract, Shakespeare shows how violence is an honourable characteristic and at this point of the play Macbeth is praised for it by the captain and Duncan who describe as “brave Macbeth”. The adjective “brave” accentuates his good reputation created by his merciless nature in battle. Also, his “brandished steel which smoked with smoked with bloody execution”, paints a picture of a valiant soldier who is ready to do anything to protect his king.

The metaphor elevates Macbeths murderous nature as a soldier whose sword creates nothing but enemy deaths. Here he is the traditional example of what masculinity was in the Jacobean era, he is fearless, brave and loyal to the king and the divine right which also makes him moral. However, we see different versions of this brave violent Macbeth for example when he is faced with Banquo’s ghost in act 3 scene 4. He says to the ghost “dare me to the desert with thy sword” demonstrating to the reader even when he’s scared he’s violent; and this condemns him as he ends up acting suspicious and doing things that may get him in trouble. His violence is in rooted in him and this ultimately decides his destiny and drives him to his downfall.As well as that, Shakespeare presents violence as one of the factors that drive Macbeth to his downfall. In the extract the captain says how Macbeth “like valour’s minion carved out his passage”.

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The verb “carved” continues Macbeths ruthless description and the metaphor demonstrates how Macbeth uses his violence to create a path for himself. This could be seen as foreboding as throughout the play Macbeth carries on using his violence to reach his goals but in a treacherous way. For example, in act3 scene 4 he says to lady Macbeth” I am in blood Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more” showing that he has become so desensitised by violence he thinks he may as well continue he’s immoral sinful path. As well as that being like this is dangerous for Macbeth, he is violent at times where it’s best to keep quiet for example the banquet scene. As a result, his destiny is already carved out, his fate has been made up by his sins driving Macbeth to his downfall. Also, Shakespeare presents violence subtly throughout the play in minor characters and scenes to show how Macbeths tyrannical reign has not only driven him to his downfall but also Scotland to chaos. This can be demonstrated in act 2 scene 4 when Ross say how the “dark night strangles the travelling lamp”.

The verb “strangles” is an intentional act and this metaphor shows how warmth and guidance is dead and this is Gods punishment for the violence committed by the Macbeths. Here Shakespeare alludes to how Macbeth killed Duncan, who is on a higher chain of being, creating an unnatural order. God is angry as the act of killing Duncan is a blasphemous one, it is against the chain of being and the divine right. Furthermore, “darkness does the face of earth entomb” also shows gods anger and the death of peace. This metaphor shows how callously violence has taken over and now it has Scotland suffocated. This could be because of the Macbeths who both called on something to hide their evil deeds. In act 1 scene 4 Macbeth says “let light not see my black and deep desires” and in act 1 scene 5 Lady Macbeths says “pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell” and now Scotland’s natural order is really unbalanced.

This shows the reader how because of the Macbeths and their violent characteristics and desire to sin and inability to not feel guilt they are driven mad and Scotland is driven to chaos.In conclusion, In Macbeth violence is presented as initially honourable but eventually drives both Macbeth and Scotland to madness.


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