Conflict is one of many recurrent themes in the play Macbeth
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Conflict is one of many recurrent themes in the play ‘Macbeth’. Conflict is to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, atvariance, or in opposition. The use of conflict in the play demonstrates the character’s clashing viewpoints and allows the readers to grasp their different traits. Shakespeare uses this technique at the very beginning when Macbeth’s worries are displayed when he expresses his thoughts about the sinful deed. His reasons for deciding against committing the act include reasons spurred by guilt, such as that Duncan is not only a great king, of whom Macbeth is supposedly a loyal subject, but a guest in Macbeth’s house, and Macbeth’s cousin, therefore it would be wrong to kill him. He also considers the justice of the act, as Duncan is a good man and loved by the people.
Not only does Duncan do a good job leading the country, but his people would be outraged, weeping for Duncan’s death and not resting until the murderer was found. This brings Macbeth to his next reason against killing Duncan; fear for himself. Macbeth worries that the deed will eventually catch up with him, letting the people know that he was the cause of Duncan’s death, reasoning that, even if he escapes punishment on earth, he may risk the afterlife, or punishment from the gods. Macbeth also worries about his own safety when he is king, fearing that he may meet the same fate as Duncan.
At the end of Macbeth’s soliloquy, he is fully convinced that he shall not commit the deed; this is until Lady Macbeth enters the scene. Her interest conflicts with his morals and obligations but they are not good enough as Macbeth is overruled by his demanding wife, ignoring his previous decision to not commit the sinful deed.
Shakespeare’s language exhibits conflict throughout this scene.
Shakespeare uses a variety of dramatic devices to emphasise how conflict is present. One example of this is when he uses the technique of a rhetorical question; this is evident when Lady Macbeth says ‘art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valor as thou art in desire?’ The use of this technique is effective because it shows the readers that Lady Macbeth questions Macbeth’s desire for the throne which would result in a change of hierarchy. This leads to conflict. By asking this, Lady Macbeth questions his motivation & ambition to become successful, it appears as if Macbeth is all talk & no action. Lady Macbeth makes her husband feel less superior.
Shakespeare also uses the technique of repetition in the quote “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” This quote means that Macbeth’s heart knows the truth, the horrible truth that is hidden from others. The people are deceived by Macbeth’s ‘false face’ which hides the truth, making the people believe that he is unaware of the truth, assuming that he is in the same position as them. This causes conflict as the truth is behind closed doors.
Shakespeare enhances the dramatic effect of his words by using certain devices such as Irony and juxtaposition. The use of irony is evident in Macbeth’s soliloquy. Macbeth’s soliloquy concludes Macbeth’s decision to not go ahead with the deed. The audience knows Macbeth’s reasons for not wanting to kill King Duncan from his soliloquy but Lady Macbeth is unaware of his decision as she is absent during his soliloquy. When she enters the scene, Macbeth ends his soliloquy and quickly changes the subject by saying ‘How now! What news?’ Macbeth immediately interacts with his wife, not giving her the chance to question him about his previous activity, allowing him to keep his thoughts private throughout the conversation. Lady Macbeth is unaware of her husbands’ true feelings.
Juxtaposition is also present in the play Macbeth. Shakespeare uses the dramatic technique in the quotes ‘If we should fail?’ & ‘We’ll not fail.’ By asking his wife about the consequences they may face if they fail the deed, Macbeth shows tremendous anxiety. The question sums up all of his fears & worries. Macbeths conscience appears, it is blatant he fears the consequences that he might have to face if they are to fail. On the other hand, Lady Macbeth is confident; she believes that failing isn’t an option. She reassures her husband in a way that almost comes across as intimidation as her frustration is clear when she answers him back, resulting in conflict. The two quotes show Macbeth & Lady Macbeths different views, which allows the readers to predict the twos very different personalities.
Structural devices are also implemented throughout Act 1 scene 7 effectively. A clear example of this is shown at the beginning & end. The scene includes a soliloquy right at the beginning from Macbeth. Thoughts such as the consequences of committing the deed run through his mind, Macbeth also remembers that Duncan is a noble and reliable king so if he was to die, chaos would appear as there would be no control. As Macbeth takes this all into account, he decides to not commit the deed but his decision soon changes. Straight after Lady Macbeth enters the scene, she immediately starts to persuade her husband into committing the deed.
She uses emotive language to do so. Her passionate outbursts defeat Macbeth, who seems to be somewhat frightened of his wife, for his solid arguments seem to disintegrate as Lady Macbeth disputes. Her subtle transitions from outrage and aggression to cajoling him and understating the act create the perfect persuasion, and the strong use of emotive language and personification renders Macbeth incapable of reasoning logically. At the end Macbeth finally agrees as his wife had successfully persuaded him that they should not fail.
Shakespeare’s play outlines certain ideas that are applicable to today as well. We learnt that people from that time would often seek higher hierarchy to become more dominant than they already were, breaking the chain of being. The chain of being starts from God and progresses downward to angels, demons, stars, moon, kings, princes, nobles, men, wild animals, domesticated animals, trees, other plants, precious stones, precious metals, and other minerals. In those times men would envy the king because as a human, he had the highest role on the chain of being. Macbeth was a nobleman so he was just above man & under the king but he did not feel that that was good enough, leading to his quest to become King.
The chain of being was essential in that time period; it kept order in the land. People knew their place and respected that. If a king died they would feel lost as they depended on the support of the highest. In 21st century we still follow the chain of being but we do not rely on it as much. Some people still follow the chain of being as it is, starting from God and ending at other minerals but others feel differently about the order. As Protestantism has increased over the decades, people believe that the chain of being starts from the king/queen, ignoring God. Some people feel that the chain of being has lost its morals as the first woman rose to throne in 1558 changing history. Now England is used to having a woman ‘run’ the country.
Some people believe that the royal family should not be the highest on the chain of being as they believe the government does more for the country as all major laws are made and discussed in Parliament, they believe the royal family does not contribute.
I personally believe the original chain of being is important and successful as it keeps order, I believe every position on the list is fair.