Theme of Social Hierarchy in William Shakespeare's Henry V, Twelfth Night and Macbeth

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Theme of Social Hierarchy in William Shakespeare's Henry V, Twelfth Night and Macbeth

Henry V, Twelfth Night, and Macbeth cover the whole field of Shakespearean genres, but it is amazing how Shakespeare displays a theme and carries it through in any kind of play he wants to. Historic, comic, and tragic plays are about as different as you can get, yet when we take a closer look we see many similarities among them, especially in the area of social hierarchy. In all three of these plays, Shakespeare uses a similar theme, which he conveys and proves through his characters. Twelfth Night's Malvolio, and Macbeth's Macbeth, Henry V's Henry all hold social status, and they spread the social scale, one a servant, one a nobleman, and one a
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Malvolio is a servant, desiring and seeking to climb the social ladder by marrying his master, a wealthy woman in society. Malvolio is stepping far beyond his bounds as a servant, and he doesn't see that he is out of line. To marry up a class level was unheard of, but Malvolio doesn't even seem to think about this. He is set on winning Olivia's love from the moment he thinks about the things he can get from it. He isn't really punished for his committal of a social taboo, but he is demeaned and taken back down to a servant's level through the joke that Toby, Maria, and Feste play on him. Shakespeare doesn't say that marrying up is wrong, because the marriage of Maria and Toby is given a positive light. Shakespeare does make it very clear that it is not proper for a servant, or anyone for that matter, to attempt to climb the social lattice, especially through marriage.
In Macbeth, Macbeth is a Thane, a much higher social status than a slave. This is a position of nobility, and Macbeth is content with it. His and Banquo's meeting with the Weird Sisters and the subsequent fulfillment of part of the witches' prophecies about Macbeth is what begins to discontent Macbeth. Macbeth says, "If chance may have me King, why, chance may crown me" (Macbeth I.iii.158), but it is shortly after this that Macbeth is easily drawn in by his wife's enticement with power and