Macbeth

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade May 2001

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A critic once said, "when one reads or sees Macbeth, one cannot help feeling that one is experiencing a re-creation or representation of what a man is, in the present, even in the timeless." Indeed, Macbeth is timeless. His situation is as true today as it was when it was written. His vices and wants do not belong to any one century but to all time. Ambition, murder, revenge, deception, self-doubt, manhood, and the corruption of power are all present today. These universal themes are what make Macbeth ageless.

Ambition was the driving force behind all of Macbeth. The ambition of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth moved the entire plot. The witches planted the seed of discontent within Macbeth. The notion that he would be king dazzled Macbeth and drove him into the treacherous arms of his wife. The desire of Lady Macbeth was much greater that that of her husband.

Her need for power sealed the fate of Duncan. The reader can identify with, if not condone, Macbeth's lust for the forbidden fruit. Ambition is within all of humanity. This relationship is what makes Macbeth timeless; the reader can see a part of himself within the treachery of Macbeth.

Self-doubt, like ambition, was also a driving force behind Duncan's murder. After brooding over the possibility of slaying his kind sovereign, Macbeth decided not to kill Duncan. It was then that Lady Macbeth called her husband's manhood into question. Such an uncomfortable notion brought Macbeth back into the conspiracy. The questioning of one's manhood is a surefire way to elicit the wanted reaction. This is as true today as it was in the seventeenth century. The mere notion of being less than a man will drive ordinary men into doing extraordinary things. The reader can also identify with this form of manipulation. Such identification allows Macbeth to transcend time.

Revenge was also a driving force in this play. Revenge drove both Malcolm and Macduff to pursue and kill Macbeth. Revenge is not unknown to the contemporary reader. The need for retribution and justice has not left the human conscience since the seventeenth century. In writing about revenge, Shakespeare detailed an intrinsic human emotion that is not lost through the ages.

Macbeth's continued popularity rests in the simple fact that it appeals to the emotions of all people. The forces that drove Macbeth are the forces that drive all mankind. Time is of no