Unchecked Power in Shakespeare's Macbeth and King Lear

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In many of the plays by William Shakespeare, the central character goes through internal and external changes that ultimately shake their foundations to the core. Numerous theories have been put forth to explain the sequence of tragedies Shakespeare wrote during this period by linking it to some experience of melancholy, anger, despair, and the antagonist 's ultimate fall from grace in their lust for power. But such theories overlook the fact that it is in this very same period and in the same tragic works that portray the heights to which human nature can rise and fall in its purest and noblest, if not happiest terms. Surely the creation of so much light alongside the darkness and the perfection of the artistic medium through which…show more content…
After Macbeth becomes king, his sanity begins to unravel. In Act III, Scene 4 he sees images of his dead friend Banquo at the banquet.

Lady Macbeth 's questioning of Macbeth 's manhood is crucial in fueling his ambition and desire to be king after he becomes Thane of Cawdor. Then his wife plants the initial seed of a "new" king in the thoughts of Macbeth. The reversal of control and power between he and his wife strikes Macbeth 's manhood. She is well aware of the discrepancy between their respective resolves and understands that she will have to manipulate her husband into acting on the witches ' prophecy. Her violent, blistering soliloquies in Act I, Scene 7, testifies to her strength of will, which completely eclipses that of her husband. Her soliloquy in Act I, scene V, begins the play 's exploration of gender roles, particularly of the value and nature of masculinity. In the soliloquy, she spurns her feminine characteristics, crying out "unsex me here" and wishing that the milk in her breasts would be exchanged for "gall" so that she could murder Duncan herself. These remarks manifest Lady Macbeth 's belief that manhood is defined by murder. When, in Act I, scene vii, her husband is hesitant to murder Duncan, she goads him by questioning his manhood and by implicitly comparing his willingness to carry through on his intention of killing Duncan with his ability to carry out a sexual act (I.vii.38-41). Throughout the play, whenever
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