The Concept Of Morality In Macbeth By William Shakespeare

1103 Words 5 Pages
At its simplest level, life is merely a sequence of decisions made by an individual. When combined with outside influences such as ambition or the opinions of others, the concept of morality within these decisions is often clouded. The play Macbeth by William Shakespeare follows this same basic formula; when faced with difficult decision, the play’s titular character, Macbeth, has his morality and judgment corrupted by externalities. Although its age and diction may suggest an unnecessary level of complexity, this play is merely a reflection of the basic human experience. Shakespeare is able to express the interconnectivity of one 's actions, their being, and despite outside biases of his era, present this theme in an enduring manner. …show more content…
The political context in which the play was written is vital to the reader 's understanding of the themes. Macbeth was first performed in 1606, at which time, James I ruled as the king of England. James I had, like most in the middle ages, strong religious beliefs, including that of the divine right of kings, the idea that the king is chosen by God and any act against him is a heinous sin. Considering that Shakespeare wrote his plays to appease the highest authority of England, many of James’s values are represented in Macbeth. Many references to religious matters appear in the play, such as Malcolm’s reference to the story of Lucifer when discussing how looks can be deceiving (Shakespeare 4.3.27). Other than isolated religious references, such as this passage, James’s influence can be seen in textual elements as significant as the plots’ entirety. At its most basic level, the plot of this play is Macbeth acting against the king and as a result being punished by God; this is a clear reference to the divine right of kings. In the modern world, however, many of these concepts are outdated: kings and queens are no longer the primary ruling force and religion is not a universally held belief. Despite changes to the organization of society, the structure of Macbeth allows for the theme to adapt over …show more content…
The themes created by Shakespeare withstand the test of time due to the fact that they are simple enough to portray only the baseline truths of human nature, rather than any biased ideas that were present in his era. Although Macbeth contains many religiously (an supernaturally) influenced plot elements, the underlying ideas are able to exist autonomously from any concepts that were specific to the time period. For instance, when the doctor remarks that “unnatural deeds do breed unnatural troubles,” (5.2.75-76) his words are applicable to Lady Macbeth 's overwhelming guilt from her part in the murder of the king; however, when broken down, this quote displays a greater universal theme: immoral and unnatural actions will cause an adverse effect on an individual. Shakespeare 's works are revered as classics because, even after four centuries, the themes remain truthful: it remains important for one to consider the repercussions of their actions even if that action does not involve the killing of a king. This stagnant essence of human nature becomes a theme in itself; Macbeth, in his famous soliloquy, reveals the cyclical fashion of human existence (5.5.20-31). This idea underlines the primary theme: similar actions, despite time period, will yield similar results. Macbeth remains influential because it not only reveals a theme to the reader, but also the significance and

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