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Greed in Macbeth Essay


Greed has, and always will be, our most deceptive emotion. In William Shakespeares Macbeth, this thought was proven in most of the main characters. There own greed blinded them, played tricks on their minds, and deceived them into death. Sheer ignorance in the face of evil brought these characters an unexpected death. The chief disturbance to our outlooks on life is security, the way we react to the personnel around us. In this play, mortals are in most danger when amongst their closest friends. It is the ones closest to us whom we can never fully understand. The thoughts they possess can be hidden by a simple smile. Many of the characters ignore impeding dangers because of the atmosphere they are contained. It would be like going into a murders house without knowing and not suspecting a thing because of the warm atmosphere the home produces. Because of a failure to recognize the evil in their friends and surroundings, this absence of wit in the main characters is their death sentence.

In this play, mortals are in most danger when amongst their closest friends. This proves quite ironic, as our closest friends are usually our most trusted. This theory proved true for many characters in Macbeth, who were accosted by some of their closest and most trusted friends. This was the case for Banquo, who met his end from his untimely greed. As the play begins, the likes of Macbeth and Banquo find themselves in the habitation of the Wird sisters, who reveal important information to the two men. To Macbeth, it is, All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! / All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! / All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!(17) To Banquo, Lesser than Macbeth and greater. / Not so happy yet much happier. / Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. / So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo.(19) These words put thought of usurpation in Macbeths head, and already his greed was taking over. Banquo gives fair warning to Macbeth about caution over the words, stating The intstruments of darkness tell us truths, / Win us with honest trifles, to betrays / In deepest consequence. (23) But later, Banquo fell under the spell of greed, knowing his children would become Kings. Thou hast it nowKing, Cawdor, Glamis, all / As the Wird Women promised, and I fear / Thou playedst most foully for t. Yet it was said / It should not stand in thy posterity, / But that myself should be the root and father / Of many kings. (81) Though he knew that something was up, he chose to ignore this instinct for his own personal gain, because, as it was promised, he should bear many Kings of the future. This proved an unwise choice, as the deceitful Macbeth had him murdered by hired hit men to make sure him or his offspring would not attempt to kill him. O treachery! Fly, good Fleance, fly, fly, fly! / Thou mayst revengeO slave! (97) Banquo comes to his unfortunate death because he trusted his closest friend, Macbeth, not to harm him. Another to be caught in Macbeths game of trust was the king, Duncan. Duncan left his senses to guide him vulnerably into the grasp of a traitor. It begins with his trustworthy Thane of Cawdor betraying him to the Norweyan troops. He is in disbelief that someone so trustworthy could betray him, and then suddenly welcomes Macbeth with his new title. O worthiest cousin, / the sin of my ingratitude even now / Was heavy on meOnly I have left to say, / more is thy due than more than all can pay.(27) Duncans gratitude for Macbeth on the battlefield drove Macbeth to kill Duncan anyway. Macbeth felt as though he was in rightful place to be king, but this position was appointed to Duncans son, Malcolm. Duncans trust for Macbeth leads him to his castle for a celebration, one which would result in his death. As Duncan regarded Macbeth so highly, the blame is immediately taken off of Macbeth. These two characters lack of wit served them their death on a platter.

Throughout the play, characters have made bad decisions regarding an area. This is the environment in which they live deceiving their senses. This proved to be the case with Duncan, who let his instincts take the best of him. When approaching Macbeths castle, Duncan exclaims how the atmosphere is nice, and gives off a pleasant aura. This castle hath a pleasant seat. The air / Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself / Unto our gentle senses.(35) IN turn, Macbeth waits inside the castle with the intent of killing Duncan. Inside the castle, Duncan is heartily drinking and having a good time, as the atmosphere of the party is cheerful and warming. He goes to sleep quite content, knowing not that he will never wake up. The idea of our senses being clouded over faulty judgement also proved true for the likes of MacDuff, and in a sense, Lady MacDuff. When fleeing to England in fear for his life, MacDuff leaves behind his beloved wife and children. He believes that no harm will come to them if they are safe in their home. He also trusted that Macbeth would not harm the weak. This was the wrong choice to make, as Macbeth ordered hired killers to go into MacDuffs castle and destroy all who hid in there. Lady MacDuff had not been as confident with her husbands choice. Wisdom? To leave his wife, to leave his babes, / His mansion and his titles in a place from whence himself does fly.(133) This was a correct judgement, although it proved ill for Lady MacDuff. A third contender for this lack of wit is our protagonist, Macbeth. Three times Macbeth heard the deceptive rantings of the Wird sisters, and took them most seriously. The witches told him of an impending threat, but assured that by only ridiculous methods could result in his death. Laugh to scorn / The power of man, for none of Woman born / Shall harm Macbeth.(125) This seemed preposterous to Macbeth, as well as the forest climbing the hill to Dunsinane. Only at these, would he meet his end. He failed to realize that MacDuff was born of a caesarean section, not of woman. These three characters failed to see the obvious coming, and for it, received punishment.

Failure to recognize the dangers in their surroundings was the main cause of death for many characters in William Shakespeares Macbeth. Many met their end because of devout trust for their friends. They failed to see beyond the warming smiles, and did not see it coming. Others met their end from their ignorance in recognizing a grim place hidden with colour and fresh air. Deceit was the common denominator for this trail of murder.

Works Cited

Macbeth, William Shakespeare,

Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine.

New Folger Library, 1996.

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