How Macbeth is corrupted by power
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Throughout history tyrants have come and gone. They come into position with knowledge and power. When the tyrant holds such power, he also holds a great responsibility. Because of the power, the tyrants ego will become very large causing his thinking to be camouflaged. However, since the mental state of the mind is decreasing, the ability to be responsible lacks greatly. A great philosopher by the name of Lord Acton put this idea into a profound phrase, “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In this quote, Lord Acton observes that having power may corrupt someone slightly. He then goes on to say that having absolute power, such as a tyrant, will cause absolute corruption in the most likely form of mentality and death. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the plot happens to follow the exact words of Lord Acton. As Macbeth’s power rises, his mind fails.
Personal desire can cause a man to do horrible things. Once he desires something such as power, he will likely go to any extent to achieve it. In the beginning of Macbeth, three witches predict futures for Banquo and Macbeth. When Macbeth discovers that he shall be thane of Cawdor he believes it to be a temptation. Soon after, when he is officially named thane of Cawdor, Macbeth realizes that the witches might be right. “…Two truths are told/As happy prologues to the swelling act/…This supernatural soliciting/Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,/ Why hath is given me earnest of success/…If good, why do I yield to that suggestion.” At this moment he is thinking about murdering Duncan but decides that he would be unable to do it. As the play moves forward his desire increases. He wants the power. He is not fine with Duncan being king anymore. He knows that in order to be king, Duncan is the only man in his way. With the murder of Duncan, Macbeth’s desire overtakes his ability to live in reality.
Macbeth’s attitude changes rapidly from the opening of the play to the death of Duncan. This happens because of Lady Macbeth’s intense influence. He starts out with thoughts of power but believes that there cannot be anything good associated with witches. After talking to Lady Macbeth, he starts to envision his life as king and actually wants to kill Duncan. If Lady Macbeth were not there, there is a good possibility that Macbeth would have come to his senses and not murder Duncan. Even after the first initial conversation with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth still hesitates to kill Duncan. When the time comes for Macbeth to slay him, he is still undecided of the act. He says, “We will proceed not further in this business/…Golden opinions from all sorts of people,/ Which would be worn now in their newest gloss,/ Not cast aside so soon.” But, Lady Macbeth is right there pressuring him into the deed that would begin his tragic downfall. She says, “Was hope drunk /Wherein you dressed yourself? Hath it slept since? /And wakes now, to look so green and pale /At what it did so freely? From this time/ Such I account to thy love. Art thou afeard /To be the same in thine own act and valor /As thou art in desire?” She confuses Macbeth here holding his own desire to be the reason behind the death of Duncan/. After the conversation, Macbeth’s attitude changes. He decides to go through with the murder at the wishes of his wife’s false and evil heart.
After the death, Macbeth becomes horrified with himself. He is unable to deal with the guilt and life altogether. Because of the death of Duncan, he gains power which causes his mind to be camouflaged. As his mind becomes blurred, he is unable to tell the difference between right and wrong. This makes his downfall extremely rapid. He becomes easily taken over by desire and outside influence. The power of Macbeth turns into absolute power. The absolute power backfires on him and corrupts him to an life of absolute horror.