Macbeth Essays On Power

I've already written the essay but i have gotten stuck while writing the conclusion.

My question/statement is 'Macbeth is about the struggle for power'. The word limit is 600-1000, I have written over it by about 200 words but the teacher said it can be about 300 words over but no further.

Please read through my essay and tell me what can be improved and how i can write my conclusion. This essay is for a year 10 assessment.

Thank you.

Macbeth is about the struggle for power.
In the play, Macbeth, by William Shakespeare many characters are seduced by the thought of gaining power. However, none more so than the lead characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Throughout the entire play, Macbeth's actions are controlled by either his quest to gain more power or the power that his wife, Lady Macbeth, holds over him. As the play begins, Macbeth is already a man of power, as he was a victorious general in Duncan's army and then the Thane of Glamis. Then, almost immediately after hearing the predictions of the three weird sisters he receives more power by being awarded a new title, Thane of Cawdor. Although Macbeth is a powerful man, there is a more powerful entity ruling over him, his wife, Lady Macbeth.

One of the main leading characters in Shakespeare's most tragic play is Macbeth. Macbeth's struggle for power starts when three weird sisters appear to him and prophesises him becoming a greater Thane as well as the King of Scotland in the future - "All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter." (Act 1 Scene 3 Lines 46-48) After this event, Macbeth is left to ponder on what the witches had said revealed to him from the seeds of time. Soon after, some messengers came from the King calling him Thane of Cawdor as the previous Thane was imprisoned on the charge of treason. Macbeth starts to get lured into the possible truth of the witches' divination. He starts weighing the good and evil sides of the three weird sisters' foresight - "Two truths are told, as happy prologues to the swelling act of the imperial theme." (Act 1 Scene 3 Lines 127-128), "This supernatural soliciting, Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, why hath it given me earnest of success, Commencing in a truth? ... Present fears are less than horrible imaginings. 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." (Act 1 Scene 3 Lines 129-140). This quote shows the initial process of thought that Macbeth goes through - he is evaluating how he feels about is happening. Lady Macbeth influences him to kill Duncan but it is also his growing lust for power that powers him into the downfall of the Macbeth Family. Soon after he becomes King, he becomes increasingly paranoid as he is consistently racked with guilt. This leads him to murder more people including his best friend, Banquo and the Thane of Fife - Macduff's family. Macbeth begins to fear Banquo's knowledge of the predictions made by the witches. He knows that Banquo suspects that he has attained the throne by foul play, and Macbeth worries that Banquo may expose him. However, this is not the only reason that Banquo may be a threat to Macbeth's recently acquired power. During the same time that Macbeth was informed of his impending kingship, Banquo was enlightened that he would produce a line of kings. To Macbeth, this means that Banquo's posterity will remove him from the throne. Macbeth found Banquo a very potential threat; Macbeth had feared Banquo - "To be thus is nothing, But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo stick deep, and in his royalty of nature reigns that which would be feared ... Reigns that which would be feared. And champion me to th' utterance." (Act 3 Scene 1 Lines 49-73). Macbeth had murdered Macduff's family but he had failed to kill Macduff as the Thane has escaped beforehand to speak with the late King Duncan's escapee son, Malcolm. Macbeth's sole reason to kill Macduff's family was to eradicate the Thane's line of inheritance. Macbeth is beginning to get increasingly paranoid and psychotic; his need for power and dominance is blinding his rational thinking. This quote shows his ever-increasing paranoia - "Time, thou anticipat'st my dread exploits ... This deed I'll do before this purpose cool." (Act 4 Scene 1 Lines 143-153). The above points clearly state that Macbeth is about the struggle for power.

The second leading character in Shakespeare's most tragic play is Lady Macbeth.
Lady Macbeth's struggle for power starts the moment she appears in the play. She receives a letter which included Macbeth's supernatural experience with the three weird sisters. The letter had stated that the witches had prophesied Macbeth becoming King which in turn would make Lady Macbeth, the Queen of Scotland. She launches into criticizing Macbeth's manhood; accusing Macbeth of being "too full of o' th' milk of human kindness" to take King Duncan's life. She continues on to speak about how Macbeth doesn't have a mean streak to achieve things which he wants that aren't his, she states that Macbeth would rather have someone else do the deed for him. Lady Macbeth starts to plan how she is to make Macbeth come to the decision where both of them have achieved what most people dream about, to become the Scotland's King and Queen - "Hie thee hither, That I may pour my spirits in thine ear And chastise with the valor of my tongue All that impedes thee from the golden round, Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem To have thee crowned withal." (Act 1 Scene 5 Lines 23-28". She doesn't hesitate to execute the plan of murdering King Duncan as she feels that since the supernatural and destiny are on their side, she doesn't have to be concerned about anything going amiss. Lady Macbeth starts to call on paranormal to aid her as she fears her feminine emotions might hinder her - "Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty ... Come to my woman's breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murd'ring ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature's mischief." (Act 1 Scene 5 Lines 38-48) Lady Macbeth wants the night to reign over day so Duncan's death can never be revealed as well as heaven to be unaware of the murder of a good man - "Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark To cry "Hold, hold!" (Act 1 Scene 5 Lines 48-52). When Macbeth was still undecided about executing the murderous deed, Lady Macbeth had taunted and manipulated Macbeth into doing so by using their dead child as blackmail - "What beast was't, then, that made you break this enterprise to me? ... Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums and dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you have done to this." The above points clearly state that Macbeth is about the struggle for power.

Macbeth is about the struggle for power. In my opinion the two main characters mostly influenced by power in this Shakespearean play are Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is influenced by the prophecy made by the witches and later on by Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth holds a great deal power and control over her husband...

How does one get an essay done from the entire play? The answer lies in taking key scenes, getting them into a Word document and then highlighting, in yellow, the relevant short quotes that fit the need of the essay when it is done. Once you have the highlighted quotes, you then delete the rest, leaving gaps between the quotes, so you can develop links between the words spoken by one character or another.

I did this and then put an essay together for you, to show you how it is done, but being the creative writer and thinker that I am, ended up with nearly 1300 words. I think it was 1296 words to be precise. So, I had to edit the file and take out relevant bits. What began by using 3 key scenes, then became an essay using 2 key scenes, leading to an essay of 840 words. Now technically, that is 15 words over the 10% limit AQA sets for Controlled Assessments, but if that happens to you, fear not.

Here is the essay in its fullness……..enjoy and try to emulate this.


Explore the ways that power is presented in Macbeth, with reference to the power that Lady Macbeth has over her husband.

Power exists within all relationships and is usually portrayed in fiction as patriarchal, but what the Bard is famous for as a playwright, is subverting the accepted norm and bringing to the attention of the public new ideas relating to the power relationships that exist. His play, Macbeth, about the Scottish tyrant King who is affected by witchcraft and the inward desires of his own wife’s evil intentions, is a good example of this power that exists in such relationships, even regal ones.

In Act 1, Scene 5, after Macbeth has been visited by the three witches on the heath, he writes a letter to his wife back at his castle. When she receives it, the audience begin to see where the power lays in their relationship. When she says “Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be what thou art promised” she is expressing her desires to see her husband crowned King, but there is a problem; the present King, Duncan, is alive and well, so she begins to plot his demise. But as she does so she knows that her husband is a man who is “too full o’ the milk of human kindness” to undertake such a task as killing the King.

Shakespeare is using the language of kindness to describe Macbeth but follows this up with Lady Macbeth summoning evil spirits to aid her in her quest for her husband to become King. She says “come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, and fill me from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty!” Never could words uttered by any character in fiction be any more powerful than these, for she is asking for evil spirits to appear before her and make her utterly evil in every way. She wants to kill the King and feel no remorse. She wants to direct and urge her husband in the act of murder and treason because of her lust for power.

When Macbeth returns to the castle and is unsure of the plan to take over the throne, it is Lady Macbeth who tells him to “bear welcome in your eye, your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t” when the King arrives. She is telling Macbeth that he must appear to the King as friendly and unassuming; deceptive so as to gain power. What becomes evident is that power does corrupt, even if it is in the sense of the chance of power corrupting someone who is vulnerable to temptation.

Later, in Act 1 Scene 7, Macbeth doubts if he can murder the King. His soliloquy, spoken to the audience, leaves them in no doubt at all about his state of mind. He knows that he is the King’s “kinsman and his subject,” that he is related to the King as well as fond of him and this makes the act of murder harder for Macbeth to endure. He knows that Duncan “hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been so clear in his great office” and so, says that he “will proceed no further in this business.”

At this point, Macbeth is withering under the pressure of his wife’s plan, so she has to control him. She has to be the driving force in the relationship and asks “art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour as thou art in desire?” This shows the difference between Lady Macbeth and her husband, for just as much as he is unwilling to commit murder, she would take her baby and “while it was smiling in [her] face, have pluck’d [her] nipple from his boneless gums, and dash’d the brains out” in order to summon up the will to kill the King.

Clearly, Lady Macbeth is being controlled and is also the controlling influence over Macbeth in this play. This is further worked out as she then tells him to “screw [his] courage to the sticking-place,” so that they [will] not fail.” At this point the audience hear and see that Macbeth has been persuaded to kill, which will ultimately bring about the downfall of himself and his wife, through tyrannical leadership and revenge from Macduff and the breaking of Lady Macbeth’s mind, leading to suicide.

What is evident throughout this play is the way that Shakespeare subverts the role of the woman, creating a woman who is manipulative of her husband, in complete control of him and someone who can drive him forward, through the depths of temptation to the most hideous act of all; murder. The act of regicide becomes the catalyst for the play to continue through the reign of Macbeth, the tyrant King, to his demise at the hands of Macduff and the subsequent crowning of the next King, Malcolm of Scotland. What Shakespeare has done here is merge history with tragedy; the tragic loss of power and control and the tragedy that awaits anyone in power, for as the saying goes, “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

840 words

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