As ordinary humans, we endure allegiance or fickleness each and every day. The sincere loyalty and integrity one may show to their peers is a definition of character. Of the six main characters in William Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Macbeth, only one shows wholehearted faithfulness and is savagely murdered by Macbeth in the second act. The plot of the tragedy presents a great perception of human life. Once given the occasion to exhibit loyalty, authority, vengeance and gluttony follow ending with backstabbing.
On more than one occasion authority is demonstrated before loyalty. Although Lady Macbeth is the driving force behind Macbeth’s task of treachery, Macbeth makes a cognizant resolution to kill King Duncan in order to take his place as king. In Act I Scene VII, Macbeth declares, “I am settled, and bend up. Each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest show: False face must hide what the false heart doth know” (lines 79-82).
As assured by the witches, Macbeth is to become king after he kills Duncan. This promise of power takes over Macbeth’s loyalty and moral sense, which will steer him into committing an act of murder on the King.
Though defensible, the influence of revenge may trample the power of loyalty. Malcom, the son of Duncan, is thus far the king of Scotland. After his father’s murder, Malcom flees to Ireland to evade suspicion for his father’s mistimed death. After Macduff reports to Ireland to notify Malcom that Macbeth is his father’s assassin, Malcom fixes on retaliation. Malcom vows to, “Let grief Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it” (Act IV, Scene III, Lines 228-229).
We were not told an awful lot about Duncan in Shakespeares Macbeth. He had very few lines, and appeared on only a few occasions. Despite this, I was able to gather a fair idea of Duncans character, through the interpretation of messages hidden within the text. Duncan was a kind and good man. There are several segments of the play that show this; as I have demonstrated below. Duncan is an extremely ...
If revenge did not devour Malcom, his devotion to his late father’s kingdom would remain. Instead, Macduff and Malcom advance to Scotland to slay the king.
Only Macbeth and Banquo, his genuine friend, knew about the witches foretelling. Out of fright for losing the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed so he cannot reveal his own motive for executing the king. Macbeth himself does not kill Banquo, but employs proficient assassins to do this task for him. Macbeth tells the murders, “So is he mine, and in such bloody distance That every minute of his being thrusts Against my near’st of life: … I could With barefaced power sweep him from my sight And bid not avouch it” (Act III, Scene I, Lines 116-120).
At this point, Macbeth’s loyal eyes are sightless by greed. Though he feels repentance afterward, his blindness allows him to sign Banquo’s death warrant. Once again, loyalty is crushed and Macbeth’s poor temperament is definite.
With all three instances of disloyalty, the characters involved formerly were loyal to those they shattered. This proposition allows Shakespeare’s viewers to notice that humans, on the whole, are variable. Our level of loyalty directly reflects our need for power, revenge and greed. Even though this may be negative, without these character-defining traits, mankind wouldn’t develop as it does presently.