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Writing, Grammar, Literature, ACT Prep
Education: M.Ed.,Stanford University
Katie is an enthusiastic teacher who strives to make connections between literature and student’s every day lives.
When I think about famous conflicts, I think about Lex Luthor versus Superman, The Joker versus Batman or even The Smurfs versus Gargamel. All of these conflicts represent the ideal struggle between good and evil. And the creators of these conflicts use them to teach their audiences messages, about how they should deal with problems in their everyday life.
In this episode we're going to talk about some of the main events from act three of Macbeth, and then take a look at how Macbeth deals with his own conflicts and what Shakespeare is trying to tell his readers about them.
It could be sad that act three of Macbeth is the most crucial act of the play. The reason for this is, because we start to see all of the conflicts that have been introduced really come to a halt. Let's take some time to look at the basic events of act three and then really delve with those conflicts at surface.
Major events: The first thing we need to know is Macbeth's ambition and greed really comes back into the scene in scene one. We see Macbeth really reflecting on the prophecy that the witches gave to Banquo. Now remember, the witches told Banquo that he himself wouldn't be king, but that all of his sons would. At this point even though Macbeth has successfully killed Duncan and is king, he is not happy with it. He's almost paranoid. In fact he says, "For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind;/For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered,". So it's like he's not happy with what he has. He's already unhappy because he thinks that Banquo's sons are going to follow after him instead of his own.
Because of this paranoia, Macbeth hatches a plan to kill Banquo. If we think back to the way Banquo and Macbeth interact in the first act, we know that they're really good friends. In fact they're confidants. And here we see Macbeth really letting this ambition for power, and his lust and greed, take over as he plans to kill his best friend. In fact he brings in two murderers and talks them into killing Banquo, by convincing them that both of them know, "you/know Banquo was your enemy." So he tries to convince them that Banquo is the reason they're down on look, and he convinces them that he himself doesn't care much for Banquo.
After he has Banquo murdered and the murders come to confirm that Banquo is in fact dead, however, the hallucinations that Macbeth has in act three seem to get the best of him. If you remember, Macbeth is hosting a dinner actually for Banquo and this is a little bit of irony here, as we as readers know that he's having Banquo killed. But the rest of the people in the play, all the lords that are at this dinner, think that Macbeth is hosting this dinner for Banquo and that Banquo is just being rude and hasn't shown up.
However, the guilt that Macbeth is starting to feel is getting the best of him, as he sees in the empty chair of at the banquet, a gory image of Banquo. He's got this bloody locks and he starts yelling at him saying, "Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake/They gory locks at me." So Macbeth if you can imagine, is at this dinner and there is an empty seat, but he's sitting there pointing and yelling at it as if Banquo's dead body is there.
We're beginning to see kind of the downfall of Macbeth as his mind begins to deteriorate because of all the bad decisions he's made.
Finally we're beginning to see things fall apart as it's revealed that Ross is on to Macbeth. He's starting to sense that there's something rotten going on in Scotland. In fact, he getting to gather with Malcolm, one of Duncan's sons who's fled to Europe at this point. And he's saying, " Some holy angel/Fly to the courts of England and unfold/His message ere he come, that a swift blessing/May soon return to this our suffering country/Under a hand accursed." So we're seeing now that other characters are starting to figure out that all is not right in Scotland, and that Macbeth doesn't seem to be controlling the kingdom very well. In fact people are starting to suspect, that he got his kingship by foul means.
We took a look at some of the important events in act three. Now let's take a look at some of the important quotations that highlight the conflicts that are really brought to our head. The first one we're going to look at comes from scene one. Banquo is speaking here and he's talking about Macbeth. He says that, "Thou hast it now-King Cawdor,Glamis, all/as the weird women promised, and I fear/thou played'st most foully for't." We see here Banquo being set up against Macbeth. It's a man versus man conflict, as we see Banquo's suspicions that Macbeth did something wrong in order to become king. This is a really important thing to note, because we start to see that people are suspecting Macbeth of doing foul play.
The next quotation we're going to look at, also comes from scene one. This is where we see Macbeth speaking and here is an internal struggle. It's Macbeth versus himself. He says, "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." We're starting here to see Macbeth's paranoia come to his hag. He says to be thus is nothing, and here he's talking about thus. Thus is the king, so he's really saying to be king is nothing, but to be safely thus. He's revealing that he does not feel safe. Even though he's gotten the role of king, though he killed Duncan to get it, he doesn't feel safe. He can't enjoy what he has because he's spending so much time worrying about who's going to find him out and who's going to follow him.
The final conflict that we're going to take a look at is the one that Lady Macbeth is struggling with. In scene two lines six through nine, Lady Macbeth says, "Naught's had, all's spent,/where our desire is got without content./ 'Tis safer to be that which we destroy/than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy." We see Lady Macbeth here expressing some of the same concerns that Macbeth did in earlier scene. Here she's struggling with this idea that she does not feel safe in her position, because she got it by such immoral means. In fact she says, it's safer to be that which we destroy, so those people that we're going against, rather than to be scared of being destroyed by somebody else.
Here in act three, we're seeing all these conflicts come to a head. Let's make sure we keep an eye on them because they're really going to dictate the direction the play is going to move.
In act three of Macbeth, Macbeth is faced with some major conflicts and he has decisions to make. Remember, he has the power to choose between good or evil. Unfortunately, Macbeth often chooses evil. So when you're faced with conflicts in your life, remember it's the decisions that you make that speaks volumes about who you are.
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