Ideology In Macbeth Essay

Ideology In Macbeth Essay

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The conversation between Malcolm and Macduff at the beginning of Act IV Scene III is a critical point of the play. Macduff has escaped the court of Macbeth because he can no longer bear Macbeth's tyranny. By doing so, he is forced to abandon all that he holds dear to him (his family). In this scene, he meets with Duncan's son Malcolm, who is in exile in England. Macduff wishes to help Malcolm defeat Macbeth and return order to Scotland. Malcolm cannot merely accept Macduff at his word. The political setting of Scotland is one of treachery. Malcolm, although he is an honest and trustworthy man, must decieve Macduff into believing that he will be as much a tyrant as Macbeth. When Macduff mourns for Scotland in the face of such a proposition, Malcolm reveals that he truly is not such a man. His description of his failings was just a test of loyalty to Scotland. There is a political ideology underlying the exchange between Malcolm and Macduff. The first glimpses of it are when Macduff describes the conditions of Scotland: "Each new morn new widows howl, new orphans cry, new sorrows strike heaven on the face" (4.3.4-6). Scotland is in a state of bloody turmoil. The reason for this is Macbeth. An underlying idea that Shakespeare presents here is that the moral qualities of the leader of a society have a profound impact on the health of that society. Scotland is in its current horrible state because of Macbeth's inhumanity and evil nature. This is precisely why an honest man like Malcolm is forced to decieve Macduff. Malcolm is forced to react to the prevalent deceitfulness of the society, which stems from Macbeth's deceit. Malcolm alludes to this concept when, in his false discourse about his shortcomings, he says "When I shall tread upon the tyrand's head, or wear it upon my sword, yet my poor country shall have more vices than it had before, more suffer, and more sundry ways than ever, by him that shall succeed" (4.3.45-9). Building on this concept, Macduff later remarks that "Boundless intemperance in nature is a tyranny" (4.3.67-8). This statement refers to the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This statement becomes a general criticism of the system of monarchy as it existed in Macbeth's day. A further commentary on it is made in Act V Scene IX when Malcolm takes the throne. The virtuous Malcolm states that he wants to be even with his noble supporters, and, by doing so, destroys the evil of Macbeth's rule.

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