Sunday, February 24, 2008

Macbeth Act 3: Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Lord Ashton once said "Power corrupts; and absolute power corrupts absolutely." How do the events of Act 3 show this happening to Macbeth?

You think it's easy being King of Scotland? You claw your way to the top, and what do you find? You can't trust your friends. You have to entertain as head of state. (Those parties are not always fun.) You start seeing things. You stop confiding in your wife. And you are sure that there are forces conspiring against you.

Yes, it's lonely at the top.

Macbeth's murderous acquisition of the kingship of Scotland has not come without consequences. Now that Duncan is dead, and his sons have run away, Macbeth should be happy, right? But he is starting to realize that he can't trust anyone, even his bff Banquo. It's easier to just kill him and move forward. But this action will coma back to haunt him, literally & figuratively.

Macbeth laments the "good old days" in Scotland where killing someone for the good of the country "purged the gentle weal" (92) and made the country stronger. Now, Macbeth laments, you no sooner slay someone for the good of the country, and they're out of the grave, haunting your state dinners.

What significance does the appearance of Banquo's ghost have to Macbeth's plans?

Another change we see in Macbeth is his overall distrust of everyone. Rather than take a chance and trust his Lady, Macbeth starts keeping his plans a secret. Maybe after the murder of Duncan, he is a little afraid of her. The one "trustworthy"source Macbeth clings to are the Weird Sisters.

Why do you think Macbeth turns and returns to them for advice?

Scene v includes a visit from Hecate, who was the goddess of witchcraft. She seems a little put out with how the Weird Sisters have been meddling with Macbeth, and not including her. This passage was marked in our text as probably not authored by Shakespeare. You can see the difference in diction, in the form of rhyming couplets employed by Hecate in her speech.

Act 3 also contains information in scene vi, with a discussion between Lennox and the other lord. This information shows the growing distrust in Macbeth as a leader among the other thanes. There is also foreshadowing in mentioning King Edward and England's role in Scottish politics.

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