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A Character Comparison between Shakespeares Macbeth to Brian De Palmas Scarface Essay


A Character Comparison between Shakespeares Macbeth to Brian De Palmas Scarface

Power has the capability to corrupt the most notable of characters. It is able to make a person do things that they would generally not do, and motivate, depending on the source, for acts of good or evil. Macbeth is a tragic story written by William Shakespeare that shows how a notable Scotsman Macbeth gets power, and how he became person of dishonesty. This delusional sense of power enables Macbeth to commit various crimes in order to retain his false title of the King of Scotland. In Brian De Palmas Scarface the character of Antonio 'Tony' Montana, in similar fashion, became the drug lord of Miami through equally questionable, immoral and corrupt deeds. Both characters undermine human morality by satisfying their blind ambition. In comparing both Macbeth to Montana, despite centuries of time passing between them both, each character uses their immeasurable greed, and their blind ambition to acquire their greatness, but, fall as a result of their conscience.

As any man can be potentially driven by immeasurable greed in order to satisfy their desires, in order to do so, they are deprived by means of morality and ethics. Macbeth realizes that in order to hold his position as a king, he has to continue eliminates people who may potentially stand in his way and claim the throne. By the end of play, Macbeth does not hesitate in taking the life of another to suit his purpose. Macbeth says, "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 Act IV,1.172-174). As well, Greed leads man aspects to madness. Greed in Scarface is what Tony exudes in order to satisfy his desire to rule the world. Antonio Montana was a criminal who came from Cuba to America and successfully became a drug lord. After murdering a man in camp as a favour to Mafia drug king Frank Lopez, Antonio and his friend Manny are given green cards and released from the camp. Eventually, they get another job from Frank, and from that point, their prosperity and greed start to increase even more. To further this, Montana tells Manny, "In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women" (De Palma, 1986). Tony Montana realizes that in order to have wealthy live in America he needs money, power, and women.

Macbeths blind ambition for more power becomes a compulsive trait for him. It prevents him from comprehends when he need to stop; because of that he was never satisfied and his desire to have more power grows. As a king, Macbeth feels vulnerable about his throne because he knows that he will be King but not his sons as they will be succeed by Banquos sons. As a result, Macbeth arranged the killing of Banquo and his son Fleance to make certain that his sons will become future kings. Macbeth states, "It is concluded. Banquo, thy soul's flight/If it find heaven, must find it out tonight" (Macbeth Act III, 2.161-162). Tony Montanas uncontrollable ambition made him desire more power and have a wealthy life. Tony starts his way as a dishwasher, and quickly learns that in order to get to the top in the underground world of drugs; you have to step all over people. His belief was "The World is yours," and he believed the world and everything in it is prepared for him to obtain it.

Each human being has a conscience, but it can be different from person to person. A person of sound conscience questions the mortality of actions committed from one person to another. When Macbeth decided not to kill Duncan, he says to Lady Macbeth, "We will proceed no further in this business" (Macbeth Act I, 7.34). But she surprised him with anger and abuse, and calls him a coward. While in reality, it was not the cowardice of Macbeth that holds him back, but his conscience. As well, she insults his masculinity, and declares that she rather kill her own child, than break promise as Macbeth has done. Convinced by her speech and in order to prove him worthy in her eyes, Macbeth goes against his will and kills King Duncan. "I have done the deed. Didst thou not hear a noise?" (Macbeth Act II, 2.18). Also, without the presence of Lady Macbeth it would not have been done because of Macbeths conscience. A conscience is necessary, for it people to see the distinction between moral and immoral. When Montana is facing criminal charges for money laundering, he asks help from the Bolivian drug lord Alejandro Sosa. But Sosa, for his favour, asks Montana to murder a political enemy. However, during the attempted hit, Montana realizes that in order to kill the person he also needs to kill his wife and two children. In a rare moment of conscience, he refuses to continue and kills the assassin, whom Sosa asked Montana to aid. Montana questions these acts by stating, "What do you think I am? You think I'd kill two kids and a woman? Fuck that! I don't need that shit in my life" (De Palma, 1986). It is at this that moment Montanas conscience works and he did not kill those people.

In comparing both Macbeth to Montana, even though centuries of time passed between them both, each character used their immeasurable greed and their blind ambitions to acquire their greatness, but, fall as a result of their conscience. In Shakespeares Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Macbeths downfalls are caused by trying to satisfy their false ambition to keep a wrongly acquired title of the King of Scotland, and this leads both to their deaths. In Brian De Palmas Scarface, Antonio 'Tony' Montana, in a similar vain, became the drug lord of Miami through intelligence, greed, and ambition. Both characters corrupted by their immeasurable greed and their blind ambition. Power is capable of corrupting the most notable of characters. It makes a person do things that they would not usually do, except if power has been received by an admirable source of inspiration.


1. Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. New York: Washington Square Press, August 1992.

2. Scarface. Dir. Brian De Palma. Perf. Alfredo James Pacino. DVD. Universal Pictures, 1986.

3. "IMDb." The Internet Movie Database. 15 July 2008. .

4. "Absolute Shakespeare." Macbeth Study Guide. Literature. 16 July 2008 .

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