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Murder, ghosts, and floating daggers are the usual attractions for most that read William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and yet there is an important theme that some might overlook. Written in the early 17th century, Macbeth is believed to be based upon historical events listed in Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of Scotland and other current events of the time. Shakespeare constructs the memorable world of Macbeth with a mysterious and sinister atmosphere, incorporating diabolical elements into this world with the appearance of Hecate, witches, prophecies and ghostly apparitions. Throughout his story, Macbeth becomes controlled by desire for power, by allowing himself to be influenced, using evil means to gain and maintain power to the point that Macbeth is blinded to all else. In Macbeth, Shakespeare vividly demonstrates a recognizable theme of the weighty pull that power holds over those with authority.Shakespeare masterfully illustrates the demise of man through Macbeth who falls under the control of the lust of power. Throughout the story, Shakespeare gradually suffocates his character, Macbeth, by the potent grasp of the desire for power. In the beginning, Macbeth is spoken of as a war hero; seemingly not concerned with his advancement, but rather honorably fighting for king and country. As described by a soldier after a battle, “But all’s too weak,

For brave Macbeth—well he deserves that name—

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Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel,

Which smoked with bloody execution,

Like valor’s minion carved out his passage

Till he faced the slave;

Which ne’er shook hands, nor bade farewell to him,

Till he unseamed him from the nave to th’ chops,

And fixed his head upon our battlements.” (1.2)However, Macbeth is impressionable and onc…

…t I bear

Shall never sag with doubt nor shake with fear.” (5.3) Yet just a short time later he demands news about his enemy and for his armor for protection.Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth distinctly exemplify the weighty pull that power holds over those with authority. For, once prompted, both craving power, chose corruption in order to obtain and preserve stolen power. Power proved to be so addictive to the two that they remain consumed by darkness and take great and murderous measures to insure their security on the throne. Once the darkness accomplished its end of engrossing the king and queen and leads its victims to their own demise. Demise set in motion by their prompted corruption. The theme of the power of power aptly stated by Lord Dalberg-Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Works Cited

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

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