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Delusional Characters in Shakespeare

Uploaded by valeriecat on Oct 17, 2001

"Delusion can often lead to unhappiness." Comment on how characters you have studied in a text this semester have deluded themselves and other. What was the outcome of this delusion?


In William Shakespeare's play text "Macbeth", we are shown delusion can often lead to unhappiness. Many of the characters in the play deluded themselves and others along the way. A deluded Macbeth destroys his entire kingdom by deluding others around him as well as himself, and eventually in a moment of tragic realization, is slain. Lady Macbeth suicides in a moment of insanity and unhappiness when she realizes her own delusional state. King Duncan is deluded by feelings of safety and trust, impelling him to his death at the hands of Macbeth, causing unhappiness for all belonging to his kingdom. Banquo, though suspicious of Macbeth, still has confidence in their friendship then momentarily allows himself to be deluded by the promise of prophecy and soon after is murdered. All the characters, consequently, end up unhappy.

Macbeth is deluded by prophecies of kingship and once king, he is then deluded by the promise of power. The witches foretell Macbeth's rise to the throne and due to his superstitious nature, he willingly believes the prophecies, never really doubting their augury. A delusional Macbeth ignores the order of the natural world, failing to recognize the Great Chain of Being. The king on the Chain of Being is recognized as earth's tangible divinity, a Supreme Being of earth, situated at the highest earthly place on the chain. Macbeth's first delusion is that he has any right to claim a place on the throne and in doing so ignores divine order. The fact that it was the oracles of evil, the witches, who informed Macbeth of his ascension should have been enough to alert him that the witches were going to create disorder and use him as an agent of chaos. The seduction of power then fuels his delusion and he plots to kill King Duncan. Macbeth's second delusion is that he can enact the murder without encountering the consequences inevitable when divinity is slain. He does fleetingly consider these consequences of the heinous crime in a moment alone. After acknowledging the diablerie of the proposed crime, he decides not to carry out the murder.

"We still have judgement here; - that we but teach
Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return
To plague the inventor. This even-handed justice
Commends the ingredients...

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Uploaded by:   valeriecat

Date:   10/17/2001

Category:   Shakespeare

Length:   11 pages (2,499 words)

Views:   1763

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