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MacbethHis Manliness and the plays Darkness

Macbeth: His Manliness and the play's Darkness On the heath of Scotland at the opening of the play, the wind whips over the barren ground and lightening leaps down from the sky around the subjected, weak man who will come to kill a king. Radical change is affected in Macbeth's character over the course of the play: he is driven from subordinate confusion to tyrannical insanity. The fluidity of his own psyche is reflected in the fluidity with which the characters around him take up the dynamics that reflect his inner fears and worries. Macbeth's relationship to the witches in Act I Scene iii and his wife in Act I Scene viii especially resonate with his inner psychic state. Both relations reveal important currents of Macbeth's diseased mind. The witches in Act I Scene iii create a dynamic which flatters Macbeth in an attempt to convince him to kill Duncan. They flatter him in two ways. First, the witches greet Macbeth as a superior, "all hail Macbeth! Hail to thee Thane of Glamis" (I.iii.48). This honorific salutation, "hail," is reserved for the great leaders of men, not subordinates like Macbeth; who at this point in the play is just a vassal of King Duncan. The only other instance in which one of the characters is greeted by "hail" is when Malcolm takes power at the end of the play after Macbeth's head is chopped off (V.viii.32-35). Never outside of Act 1 Scene 3 is it used to refer to Macbeth. The witches greeting to Macbeth also flatters him by differentiating him from his peer Banquo. While Banquo at this point in the play is equal to Macbeth, Banquo is not greeted at all. The witches do not refer to Banquo until halfway through the scene; after he begs them to prophesize about his future. In Act I Scene vii Lady Macbeth cuts Macbeth down in order to convince him to kill Duncan. She insults him in two ways. First, she attacks his masculinity, she tells Macbeth that he is not actually a man when Macbeth tells her t...

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