Macbeth and Its Relevance to a Contemporary Audience

In: English and Literature

Submitted By blazi
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Macbeth’s portrayal of the tragic downfall of a king through his ambition, greed and weakness has allowed it to resonate with contemporary audiences. Macbeth’s human flaws paint him as a tragic hero – he is not intrinsically ‘evil’, but his consuming ambition, the desire and greed he possesses and his weakness and inability to resist his wife’s and the witches’ temptations ultimately lead to his downfall. These three flaws are inseparable from our human nature, and they are indeed still relevant and relatable in our society today.

Macbeth’s ambition is his one great flaw that leads to his ruin. Ambition is a quality that we all exhibit. However, Macbeth’s ambition consumes him, and overwhelms his moral sense, his noble character. Initially, he is presented to the audience as a brave soldier, “like Valour’s minion,” having defeated an entire army. He is respected and admired by all, including King Duncan, who promotes him to Thane of Cawdor. By the end of the play, however, he has become a moral-less tyrant. His ultimate fall from grace lies in his ambition, his desire to become King at any cost. His image at the end of the play, a senseless, paranoid, murderer is sharply juxtaposed with his portrayal as a valiant solider initially. It is this juxtaposition of a noble hero and a ruined tyrant that invokes ‘a catharsis of pity and fear’, as described by Aristotle, in the audience, and that still allows contemporary audiences today to relate and respond. The three weird sisters are the ones who plant the seed of ambition – “all hail Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter”, they predict – but it is Macbeth who fosters it. “My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical,/Shakes so my single state of man that function/Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is/But what is not.” Macbeth contemplates the murder of King Duncan, even when the witches themselves have not…...

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