Macbeth: How Power Can Corrupt People

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Throughout History, the thought or just the temptation of power has occasionally been the downfall of people when they bite more than they can chew, and in this case, it’s Shakespeare’s Macbeth. “Corruption is something that is motivated by greed and deception. It’s a very sinister personality that controls and destroys people’s lives and makes them the kind of person other people don’t want to associate with…” With this in mind, anybody in power could become a powerful foe. In the play, Macbeth's overall ambition and greed for the power lead to him and his wife led to him to his downfall. This is comparable to 20 to 21st-century leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Macbeth lusting for power eventually lead to nothing but self-destruction and losing it all due to the lack of trust is never satisfied, and being overthrown. “Adolf Hitler, the leader of Germany’s Nazi Party, was one of the most powerful and notorious dictators of the 20th century. Hitler capitalized on economic woes, popular discontent, and political infighting to take absolute power in Germany beginning in 1933.” Macbeth formed an obsession for power shortly after the witches foretold his prophecy. This resulted in Macbeth purposely plotting the deaths of the people around him. He killed many to achieve what he wanted just like Hitler.

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Hitler was stationed in the Great War while Macbeth served in territory-based battles in Scotland. Both men were rewarded for honorable service in battle. Hitler received the Iron Cross award for bravery while Macbeth granted the Thane of Cawdor. And when both received their respective grades of honors, neither was satisfied and continued to strive for power. In a quest for power, both leaders arranged the deaths of many people, even the innocent that posed no threat to them. Macbeth killed Duncan, Banquo, and Macduff’s family and servants for no other good reason other than seeing them as an obstacle for his power. “As soon as Lady Macbeth came into became into power, she was lusting for more. As the play carries on, corruption becomes greater with the killing of Banquo. Banquo who was a friend of Macbeth is betrayed when Macbeth, the new king, orders him to be killed only because Banquo has a son named Fleance that Macbeth stupidly believes will take the throne away from him, “To make them kings, the seeds of Banquo kings!” “that I require a clearness/ Fleance, his son [Banquo’s], that keeps him company/ must embrace the fate of the dark hour” (3.. 133-137). Between the two scenes, it has become apparent that a great amount of change has occurred in Macbeth. In the first scene, Macbeth is thinking over Duncan’s death to a point where it could be considered “overthinking” as he begins to concern himself with karma and such. However in the second scene, after Macbeth has gained power, his orders for Banquo’s murder seemed to be emotionless with only one bottom line: kill Banquo and Fleance, do not connect it to Macbeth. Macbeth’s power also corrupts him as it brings out his desires for only himself and not his country.” This, of course, gets the people suspicious, but now it’s too late, Macbeth had gone crazy as well as Lady Macbeth. Of course then when you’re in power sometimes you think nothing will happen that will hurt you in any way, that your safe in the confinement of your office or room. Of course, this never works and there’s always some terrible thing bound to happen to you. And that’s exactly what happens to Macbeth. The witches also play a part in this as well, as said “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter! (1.3.51-53)

Meanwhile, Hitler killed any “scapegoat” that didn’t agree with his way of handling things, all to achieve the ultimate power for their respective selves, including Hindenburg for the Weimar Republic of Germany. “Re-elected as president in 1932, Hindenburg had already lost the support of many of the more conservative elements in the government, who were flocking to Hitler’s party, which they saw as the key to renewed German prestige and the bulwark against Bolshevism. After a succession of chancellors proved ineffectual in reversing Germany’s economic slide and gaining the Nazi support necessary to keep a coalition together, Hindenburg reluctantly named Hitler chancellor of Germany. Hindenburg was never an ardent Hitler supporter, but he did little to impede him as Hitler began employing terror tactics in his drive to consolidate power for the Nazis.” Macbeth ruled one country which was Scotland, for a long 17 years while forcing his religious beliefs which was Christianity. The death of Hindenburg made Hitler the most powerful man in Germany while Duncan’s Murder made Macbeth the leader of Hitler. Hitler killed his co-leader Earnest Rolm while Macbeth killed one of his best friends, Banquo. At first, Macbeth didn’t want to kill the king to become powerful, even after having the thoughts to do so. It was Lady Macbeth, his wife that pushed him to become king so that she could become Queen respectively.

Also, Macbeth writes to Lady Macbeth telling her about the witches and their prophecies. Without any hesitation and with great confidence, Lady Macbeth immediately wants Macbeth to murder Duncan, but she fears that he is “too full of the milk of human kindness”. Even after talking to Lady Macbeth, Macbeth is still undecided about what he should do and he admits that his only motive for murdering Duncan is because of his “vaulting ambition” to become king. Seeing this, Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth by calling him a coward and tells him that she would even kill her child than back down on her word. After this, Macbeth decides that he will take the throne. But it is not entirely Lady Macbeth’s fault for convincing Macbeth to do so because, in the end, it was entirely Macbeth’s own choice to follow his greed and ambition for power. The witches and Lady Macbeth simply played roles in stirring his ambition. When Macbeth successfully attains the throne, his mind is in a state of corruption. As soon as Banquo found out about the king's death, he became suspicious of Macbeth. Banquo proceeded to think about the witches prophecy and what it had to deal with his children and had hope because of that. When Macbeth started to plan on how to murder Banquo and Fleance, we all now finger out that Macbeth has become one hundred percent evil. Joseph Stalin was the leader of the soviet union during the 1920s. Under his rule, the soviet union went from a peaceful country to one of the most advanced military based and industrial based, countries in the world. Just like Macbeth, Joseph Stalin had an important political career but never truly had full power in the beginning. Both also begin to demonstrate this unrationalized feeling of paranoia. Macbeth murders many innocent people over the witch’s prophecy. Stalin, on the other hand, began “the great purge” which killed off members of his party. He even killed anyone who went as far as even knowing the purging, which was held in secrecy.

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