Macbeth is a story about Macbeth, who becomes king through murder. Macbeth has done everything in his power to keep the crown that he has received, but Macduff and Macbeth’s wife work against him to set things on their rightful path. Macbeth is faced with the paradox of having slain thy thane and feeling guilt and sorrow and wanting to repent, but Macbeth cannot for he fears Macduff too much. Macduff is not there to slay Macbeth; Macbeth slays Macduff’s family as revenge which causes Macduff to want Macbeth dead as well as everyone else close to Macbeth. Power is the paradox of the play because it is a paradoxical good and bad thing.
Power can be seen as something that both destroys you and makes you feel more alive than ever before. It was power itself that deceived Macbeth into murdering Duncan and believing himself unable to turn back from the path of destruction once the deed had been done, even though he could have undone it without a problem. Macbeth knows what he has done is a sin, but power overtakes Macbeth’s will and makes him commit more crimes throughout the play. Macbeth says in Act 1 Scene 7, “I am in blood stepped so far that should I wade no more, returning would be as tedious as go o’er.
Macbeth feels this way because Macbeth has committed such a horrible crime that once Macbeth had reached the height of power there was nothing left for Macbeth to do but to continue getting higher and keeping up with his previous actions. Power is the paradox of the story because it both destroys Macbeth but also gives him life. It’s interesting how Shakespeare makes Macbeth confident to the point of being cocky in his speeches, but Macbeth cannot see what is coming toward him. Macduff does not speak at all during Act 4 so Macbeth doesn’t know Macduff has returned and Macbeth’s words are just empty threats towards Macduff.
The paradox of power that Macbeth faces is that he felt invincible when he had thousands of men under his command but once Macbeth killed Duncan and overthrew Banquo he felt powerless because there was no one else who could hurt him anymore; everyone important to Macbeth was dead except for his wife, which she turned against him. This made power seem like a double-edged sword to Macbeth. Macbeth felt powerful when he was in a position of power but once Macbeth lost the only thing Macbeth had left to hold onto, Macbeth’s power seemed pointless and without sense because Macbeth didn’t have anything else that made him feel alive anymore.
Macbeth is a Scottish general who receives a prophecy that one day he will become King of Scotland from three witches. Macduff is an important loyal lord in the play who was ordered to kill Macduff’s family ordered by Macbeth himself so there would be no opposition when Macbeth becomes king. In this essay I will prove that power is the paradox of Macbeth through use of character actions, symbolism throughout the play, and quotes from within the play itself.
In Act 2 Scene 1 on page 393 in my copy of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, Macduff tells Macbeth, “That which Macbeth hath back’d Macdougall/Cannot be ill Macbeth hath wag’d:/The violence of either grief or joy/Their own enactures with themselves destroy. ” Macduff means that Macdougall cannot have done anything to Macbeth for Macbeth to kill him, so the only logical assumption is that Macduff did something. The violence of grief would be Lady Macduff’s death and the violence of joy would be the birth of their son.
Also on page 393 in my copy it says, “To flye this danger/It were best for MAttie lay down her life:/While she may Haire Macdougalles of a son,/As great a hope as does Macbeth beguile. ” Macduff means that if Macduff’s wife would die, there would be no heir to the Macduff family line. This makes it seem like Macbeth wants Lady Macduff dead for some reason. This is all evidence of the paradox in Macbeth. Power, control, and authority are demonstrated by Macbeth throughout the play through his interactions with others.
He disregards Coriolanus’ opinions in Act 2 Scene 3 on page 410 in my copy when he says “Be absolute for death. /Either she or thou must go with him this night” because he doesn’t want to hear an opinion from Macduff’s wife. Macbeth also disregards Macduff’s opinion of what Macbeth should do with him after Macbeth accuses Macduff of being a traitor on page 411 in my copy when Macbeth says, “What I have done/That might your nature, honor and exception/Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness. ” Macbeth is basically saying that he doesn’t care if Macduff hates him for killing his family because it was his fault anyways.
In Act 4 Scene 3 on page 432 of my copy it says “Great Glamys, worthy Cawdor! / Greater than both by the all-hail hereafter! / Thy letters have transported me beyond/This ignorant present, and I feel now/The future in the instant” Macbeth is demonstrating power when he says that Macduff can’t do anything to him because he has killed Macduff’s family, with Macduff’s help. Macbeth also demonstrates this when Macduff accuses Macbeth of killing his family on page 434 in my copy with “I shall not sleep nor let mine eyes / Closed shut for all their lulling tunes ere I/Unfix Macbeths’ here. He means that if no one will rest until they kill Macbeth then they would never stop looking for him.
There are many quotes in which power is demonstrated through symbolism throughout the play. The three witches represent Macbeth’s power when Macduff says “And be these juggling fiends no more believ’d,/That palter with us in a double sense;/ That keep the word of promise to our ear/ And break it to our hope” on page 386 in my copy. Macbeth has Macduff’s family killed because Macduff is trying to overthrow Macbeth’s rule over Scotland, but Macbeth is still the King.
On page 387 in my copy Macduff says “He has no children. ” This means that Macdougall will never have an heir and his name dies with him which shows how Macbeth has power over Macdougall’s future because he can kill anyone at any time. Macduff also says “And be these juggling fiends no more believ’d,/That palter with us in a double sense;/ That keep the word of promise to our ear/ And break it to our hope” about Macbeth’s power over Macdougall on page 386 in my copy. Macbeth can change how Macdougall feels about him at any point because Macbeth is the ruler and Macduff is not.
Macbeth has complete control over people with his power which makes him an authoritative figure. This quote by Macduff shows that Macbeth is controlling when he says this on page 386 in my copy, “He has no children. ” This all demonstrates Macbeth’s power through authority and control over others because Macbeth is the King. Macbeth has the ability to kill anyone at any time which makes him very powerful. The paradox in Macbeth lies within Macduff’s love for his family versus Macduff’s hatred of Macbeth, because Macduff hates Macbeth but loves his wife and children enough to risk his life trying to overthrow Macbeth.