Modern Day Parallels in Macbeth Shakespeare’s Macbeth is unquestionably one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies from the use of foreshadowing to the topics of conflict still present in modern day society. It’s almost as if he knew these conflicts would plague man for centuries to come. Then again its almost as if Shakespeare could predict the future. An example is Othello, Shakespeare’s depiction of a black man in power, was way ahead of its time. In Macbeth we see many conflicts that are still present in society. Everything from peer pressure, greed, jealousy and many others, which we all at some point have fallen prey to. I chose to write this essay to show the modern parallels we see in Macbeth. How the things that Shakespeare wrote about in his time occur today and what can we learn from it.
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One major conflict we see in Macbeth, which is one of the contributing factors to the outcome of the play, is mans obsession with knowing their future. In Macbeth, we see such in the curiosity in Macbeth and Banquo when the witches speak their first prophecy.
“ Which outwardly ye show? My noble partner You greet with present grace and great prediction Of noble having and of royal hope, That he seems rapt withal: to me you speak not.
If you can look into these seeds of time, And say which grain will grow and which will not, Speak then to me, who neither beg nor fear Your favors nor your hate.” (Act 1, Scene3) It is these prophecies told by the witches that intrigue Macbeth and lead him to commit murder. Once he knew what his future would be he could not wait and let nature take its course. He had to make it happen sooner. We see this in everyday life from people who go to tarot readers, call psychic hotlines, or simpler things like reading their horoscopes in the morning paper. We all have done at least one of these things and find ourselves looking to see if it comes true. If not that, almost challenging fate to see if we could change something. I feel that mans quests to know what the future holds often results in misleading outcomes and some things are better left unanswered.
Another conflict that we see present in Macbeth woman’s inner evil so to speak, a woman’s desire to be equal if not superior to man. Yet another topic that is way before Shakespeare’s time. We see this in Lady Macbeth. She was the one who pushed Macbeth to make the prophecies come true. She had part in the murders that occurred that night.
” The raven himself is hoarse That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements. Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty! Make thick my blood; Stop up the access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances” (Act1, Scene 5) In this scene she is asking the gods to come inside her and make her a man so that she could commit this horrible act. If Shakespeare had taken Lady Macbeth out of the picture, Macbeth probably wouldn’t have committed the act or if he had, he would’ve gotten caught. After all, she was the one who went back in to kill the two guards.
Women putting themselves in a powerfule position is all very familiar today. Hillary Clinton is a classic case of a woman trying to wear the pants in the family. After serving as the first lady she decides to run for senate. All throughout history we have seen women take on the role or attempt to take on the role of men.
One last, and of course most important, conflict we see throughout the entire play is the constant struggle for power. From the moment Macbeth kills Duncan in order to obtain a throne that would have been his anyway, to him killing his best friend when the visions showed Banquos kids to be the heirs to the throne. It is this power struggle that caused most of the conflicts in the play. Everyone wanted to be in control. The three witches and Lady Macbeth had all of the power in the play. Lady Macbeth held this power over Macbeth. She challenged his manhood in order to use him as a puppet in her desperate attempt to gain the kingdom. The three witches held the most power throughout the play by telling their prophecies and leading Macbeth into a web of deceit. Then, Macbeth’s power. Once he gained the throne he used this power ruthlessly to destroy anyone who opposed him or got in his path. The whole play is basically about a power struggle man vs. man, man vs. nature, ect.
Despite all of the deceit and blood in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it does offer a lot of insight for us today. Shakespeare’s plays are known to always have a moral behind them. The moral to Macbeth is simply power is the downfall of man. The more power a person holds, the more corrupt they become. Like Macbeth who went from a man with high morals, a general to the kings army, to the ruthless over confident murderer that he became. We see these power struggles in everyday life from the student who tries to get a higher GPA than his classmate, to the world leaders who wage wars in order to gain their power and control. We should all listen to Shakespeare’s lesson instead of worrying about how much power we have or can gain. We should learn to accept what was given to us and wait for what will come in due time. Shakespeare was truly a man who thought way past his time.