Macbeth, Ruler by Divine Right

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Betrayal and Holy Retribution in Macbeth
In the play Macbeth, author William Shakespeare tells the dramatic story of how a man, who becomes obsessed with his own fate and power, falls from grace and is eventually killed by his own obsessions. Written in 1606, this play follows historical figures during the mid 11th century in the struggle for power and the crown of Scotland. When this was written, the Tudor dynasty had just ended its nearly 120 years of ruling England and Shakespeare wished for a peaceful transition of power unlike in the time of Macbeth where out of nine consecutive kings, only two had their rule ended by natural causes. To discourage this mad scramble for power among the nobles, Shakespeare uses the theme of betrayal
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Macbeth, however, does not stay loyal to Duncan and almost immediately following the words of the witches he admits that, “my thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical shakes so my single state of man that function, is smothered in surmise, and nothing is but what is not” (Shakespeare 1.3.139). With this personal confession, Macbeth reveals how he is struggling internally between his own personal ambition and what he knows is right. When he does later decide to murder Duncan, he “acknowledges that his deed will entail all the kinds of violence civilization has been struggling to suppress since it first began” (Watson) as he had just recently help put down a rebellion against Duncan, ironically enough. When Macbeth does betray Duncan, the consequences of this are enormous ranging from fits of paranoia to his eventual death. The fallout of this central betrayal is foreshadowed early in the play when the former thane of Cawdor tried to betray Duncan and paid dearly for it. Duncan says that “he was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust” (Shakespeare 1.4.14) and because of this betrayal of trust he is executed and his title is given to Macbeth. The same fate will eventually await Macbeth as “the rebel must be sacrificed to preserve [universal order]” (Bloom) but first he is abandoned by everyone around his until he is alone with his evil thoughts. The first introduction to evil
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