The Driving Role Of The Childhood In Shakespeare's Macbeth

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Even though Macbeth is said to have a “barren crown” in the play, children play a driving role in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The plotline contains many other symbols but it is difficult to ignore a symbol that is so prominent in the story. The prominence measured by the number of children, and metaphors to children that populate the play. A baby, dead or alive is used in the play to show innocence or lack thereof. They also take the role of foreshadowing what is to come later, as seen as the witches apparitions but they also represent the future of a bloodline. In Macbeth, a child symbolizes a character’s innocence and responsibility.
Responsibility is shown in Macbeth through an elaborate metaphor said by soldier Macbeth. As a starting point of the play, the soldiers are returning from war and receiving their praises and rewards for their services. The back and forth between Macbeth and King Duncan is very civil and then Macbeth replies with:
Your highness' part
Is to receive our duties; and our duties Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
Safe toward your love and honour (1.4.23-27).
Through this quotation one can observe the respect given to the king. This metaphor represents a common practice unique to the time period: a king will respect his subjects as a father respects his own child. With that being said, it also should be applied vice versa, that same child is expected to show the same respect to his father as the people of the kingdom should respect the king in return. This is the kings and subjects shared responsibility as illustrated through the addition of a child.
Though the symbol of a child can extend deeper than respect within a kingdom. A child can be used to represent something pure and innocent this is shown when Macbeth says: And pity, like a naked new-born babe Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubins, horsed
Upon the sightless couriers of the air,
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind (1.7.21-25).
At this point, Macbeth is about to commit the murder of Duncan, and is not mentally prepared for the negative effects murder has on the murderer. He sees Duncan, his eyes interpret him to be
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