Is blindly and impatiently chasing something that was eventually lost sound familiar?
Shakespeare’s Macbeth certainly thinks so.
After several eras, the story “Macbeth” and its moral lessons remain relevant to the modern age. It is one of the major topics for critical, analytical, and literary essays for college students globally. “Macbeth” may be the shortest tragedy Shakespeare has written; still, it is not scarce on heavy themes, symbolism, wisdom, and drama.
Macbeth’s story starts when three witches prophesied his dual title gain after his victorious battles alongside his friend and co-general, Banquo. Shakespeare was vague on why the witches deemed it necessary to prophesy Macbeth. However, this literary essay will clarify what Macbeth chose to do with this prophecy.
The play consisted of 5 acts. Heavy fantasy, medieval settings, and human emotions filled every scene. Let us tackle each.
In Act 1, Macbeth’s ego evolves when the witches’ first prophecy about him comes true, enhanced by the fact that he is a victor of multiple battles. This scene is where it all goes wrong. He had two choices: Be grateful and patient for the “King of Scotland” prophecy to happen naturally, or be greedy and rush the process. Mixing with his wife’s hunger for power, Macbeth chooses the latter.
Act 2 gives Macbeth the option to take the other road. However, his greed increases and Lady Macbeth nourishes this greed for personal gain. After killing his beloved King Duncan to accelerate his kingship, Macbeth sinks into tormenting guilt and self-loath.
In Act 3, Macbeth indeed becomes King of Scotland. Instead of being a good King, his rampant greed and remorse for killing his King made him a tyrant. Further, Macbeth’s paranoia about Banquo’s children overthrowing him compels him to murder another friend and his children. Here, Macbeth loses his chances of retribution, for Banquo’s son, Fleance, survives.
In Act 4, King Macbeth tries to soothe himself by seeking more prophecy from the witches. The three witches–may be sensing Macbeth’s dark intentions and brokenness–indulge him with vague predictions such as no man born of a woman can harm him.
This insatiable greed and blind chase for power denied him the signs of an upcoming rebellion against him by Macduff and King Duncan’s surviving son, Malcolm.
In the last Act, Macbeth learns that Lady Macbeth committed suicide due to self-inflicted suffering. It is debatable that he could have chosen to surrender to the incoming rebellion led by Macduff and Malcolm. Instead, his greed and pride override his grief.
King Macbeth gloats over his enemies, knowing that the witches prophesied that anyone born of a woman could not harm him. Because of his greed and desperation for comfort from his grief, Macbeth fails to protect himself from Macduff, who was technically not born of a woman but was pulled out from his mother’s womb instead (caesarian).
Realizing his mistake of haste trapped him, Macbeth surrenders to Macduff, who then beheads him as a symbol of the people’s triumph over King Macbeth’s tyranny.
Malcolm becomes King of Scotland to serve as a velveteen sheet over Macbeth’s betrayal of his father, the late King Duncan, and the people of Scotland during his reign of terror.
The story of Macbeth delivered not only a thrilling drama but also hinted at noteworthy lessons for people of any age and era.
First, “Macbeth” teaches us that “sleeping on it” is worth every second. When Macbeth received the glittering prophecy of his kingship, he let his excitement and pride run over his chances to take the news calmly. When Lady Macbeth suggested they kill King Duncan, Macbeth could have let the night slip away in peace and talked about the situation when their shock and greed subsided after a good sleep.
Second, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth could have avoided their tragedies if they had only taken their prophecy in the same way Banquo took his. Banquo accepts it with patience and humility, both of which Macbeth and his wife seemingly do not possess. Banquo could have killed Macbeth and his family to claim the throne for his children, but his morals prevented it. Macbeth sabotages his successful fate with his oversized ego and impatience.
Lastly, this story teaches us to be careful about whom we listen to. Macbeth’s first mistake was listening to the three witches and taking their word at face value, knowing they could have been toying with him. Another one is him listening to all of Lady Macbeth’s wicked persuasion and the torture of his masculinity, constantly challenging him to “man up.”
In real life, we should always be mindful of whom we take advice from, even from a trusted friend or lover.
Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is not as celebrated as his “Romeo and Juliet” or “Hamlet.” Still, its theme, plot, and character design give it an edge in the literary world. If anyone is at a point in life where they think they will never get there, Macbeth shows examples of why one should always “sleep on it.”
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