Effects Of Cruelty In Macbeth

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In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, there are various actions and events throughout the play that demonstrate how cruelty functions as crucial motivation or a major social/political factor. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth commit several significant acts of cruelty that contribute to the nature of the play, signal moral downfalls and reveal the consequences of committing such acts of cruelty. In the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth use cruelty as a means of gaining and keeping power. However, these acts of cruelty end in their own self-destruction. This can be seen through what is done to Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s family. The cruelty that fuels the ambitions of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth is also what leads to their disgrace. The tragic downfalls of both…show more content…
The first act of cruelty that contributes to Macbeth’s downfall is the murder of Duncan. After contemplating the consequences associated with planning the murder, Macbeth kills Duncan, convinced that it is the only way he can become king. Following the murder, Macbeth becomes overwhelmed with shock and begins to experience auditory hallucinations. Upon experiencing shock, Macbeth is unaware that he brings back the daggers from the crime. Commanded by Lady Macbeth to return the daggers to the scene, he claims, “I am afraid to think what I have done.” Riddled with guilt, Macbeth feels remorse. Initially, Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to abandon his conscience prior to the murder, but his conscience unwillingly returns after it. His reaction following the murder exhibits the strong presence of his conscience that he tries very desperately to get rid of. Unfortunately, Macbeth crosses the point of no return after committing regicide, and finds himself in constant fear and suspicion towards everyone around him throughout the entirety of the play.…show more content…
In Act 4 Scene 1, in regards to his plan to kill Macduff’s family, Macbeth says, “The castle of Macduff I will surprise, seize upon Fife, give to th’ edge o’ th’ sword, his wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls, that trace him in his line.” Macbeth orders the killing of Macduff’s family as a part of his being consumed with doing whatever it takes to keep his crown. Seeking to eliminate Macduff after finding out that he has fled to England to join Malcolm in building an army against him, Macbeth sends murderers to kill Macduff’s entire family out of anger and revenge. By doing so, Macbeth sets Macduff as an example to discourage others from trying to dethrone him. By committing this act of cruelty, it becomes apparent that Macbeth is overly consumed with fear in protecting his throne, and feels the need to eliminate all supposed threats to his power. In addition, this shows how much Macbeth has changed through the course of the play. In the beginning of the play, Macbeth was hesitant about killing Duncan and felt extremely guilty after doing so. However, after deciding to kill Macduff’s family, Macbeth doesn’t feel hesitant regarding his decision and doesn’t feel guilty at all. This act of cruelty is ironic because originally this act is committed in order for Macbeth to maintain his power, but instead, it is the final straw that causes his death and downfall. Overall,
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