Macbeth Essay - Power

In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1606), the protagonist is lured to murder the king, Duncan, by the desire for power, an appetite whetted by witch’s prophecies and his wife’s encouragement. But when he reaches the kingship, he finds himself insecure. He attempts to remove threats that decrease his security, including his companion Banquo and his son Fleance, prophesied to be king. His lords grow angry and revolt successfully, after witches lure Macbeth into a false sense of security by further foretelling. In Macbeth, we see that, despite appearances of paradox, man’s goals of comfort and power are forever opposed in increment, though the two may decline together.

The power from knowledge causes discomfort. As often has been said, ignorance is bliss. After Macbeth is promised the throne, Banquo asks why Macbeth is less than ecstatic. "Good sir, why do you start, and seem to fear / Things that do sound so fair?" (Act I, Scene 3, p. 332) Macbeth’s new knowledge makes him uncomfortable, as he realizes the implications. His first thoughts considering murdering Duncan appear, and he is scared. After he commits the murder, Macbeth says, "To know my deed, 'twere best not know myself." (Act II, Scene 2, p. 347) Knowing that has committed such a vile act makes him uncomfortable. It will be difficult to act innocent and to deal with his guilt. When he later decides to murder Banquo and Fleance, he tells his wife, "Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck, / Till thou applaud the deed." (Act III, Scene 2, p. 359) Hecate sets Macbeth up for his final fall, explaining her strategy,
"As by the strength of their illusion
Shall draw him on to his confusion.
He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear
His hopes 'bove wisdom, grace, and fear.
And you all know security
Is mortals' chiefest enemy." (Act III, Scene 5, p. 365)
The security provided by the second set of predictions is only fleeting. Feeling there is no threat to his power, Macbeth...