Power can change people in a way that is incomprehensible. Power can make one so greedy that he/she will do anything for it and won’t let anyone, or thing stand in his/her way. This essay will also compare the character of some that get pulled in by this greed for power, and one that doesn’t get taken in by this greed for power.
In Macbeth, the main character, Macbeth gets corrupted by the avarice for power. The way Macbeth himself get corrupted, is very evident. For example at the beginning of the play, Macbeth seems like the sort of person who wouldn’t commit the act of murder as he has a conscience. This is known because at the beginning of the play, Lady Macbeth is the one that manipulates Macbeth to commit the crime. Macbeth has his doubts, but Lady Macbeth coaxes him to do it. In this dialogue between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Macbeth expresses his concerns and Lady Macbeth reassures him. Macbeth: “If we should fail?” Lady Macbeth: “...screw your courage to the sticking place, And we’ll not fail”(1.7.67-69). Lady Macbeth then goes on to explain the plan and reassures Macbeth by saying “when in swinish sleep Their drenched natures lie as in death, What cannot you and I perform upon Th’unguarded Duncan? What not put upon His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt of our great quell?”(1.7.76-80). Macbeth was evidently unsure about this and needed a great deal of reassurance to finally go through with it. Even though Macbeth’s gut instinct at first was not to commit the murder, he gives in to his wife and commits the murder. Despite that fact that Macbeth is appalled by his deed, he still goes on to kill more people in order to secure his position. Macbeth forgets about his friends and the value of their friendships and is willing to, and does kill them if it means his position as king isn’t secure, or won’t be secure. Macbeth’s priorities aren’t straight as a result of his avarice for power.
The next character that will be explored from Macbeth is Lady Macbeth. Lady Macbeth’s attitude towards power is somewhat similar to Macbeth’s. At the beginning of the play, when Lady Macbeth reads the letter from her husband telling her about the witches, it can be clearly be seen that she will be willing to risk anything to see Macbeth king. Her opinion about murder is that if it helps her to get what she wants, she’s in favour of it. When Macbeth has his doubts, Lady Macbeth manipulates Macbeth when she call upon “...spirits/That tend on mortal thoughts...” to “Stop up th’ access and passage to remorse/That to compunctious visitings of nature/Shake my fell purpose...” (1.5.41-42 and 45-47). What Lady Macbeth is saying here is that it is as if she were tearing her heart out to make her husband king. Lady Macbeth’s sole purpose for murder seems to prove that she has been successful in emptying herself of human feeling. Lady Macbeth seems to lie effortlessly. One expel of this is her welcoming speech when the king arrives at their castle. This trait she has shows that all she wants is power and nothing else. Lady Macbeth believes that worrying over things you can not alter is a waste of time. This makes one believe Lady Macbeth has no guilt, but by the end of the play it is clearly understood that Lady Macbeth is not as simple as she seems and that she does indeed have guilt and fear because she kills herself to escape the horrible nightmares that torment her. Lady Macbeth is a fascinating character. She has immense strength and determination, but by the end, even her greed for power could not stand up to the guilt she faced. It can be said that Lady Macbeth has struggled with her guilt every bit as much as Macbeth has with his.
The final character from Macbeth that will be looked at is Macduff. Macduff is different from the previous two characters looked at. Macduff is Macbeth’s major opponent. Macduff opposes Macbeth because he knows what is right from wrong. Macduff never wants the crown for himself. His desire is to see the rightful king on the throne. Because Macduff is not very clever with words, he does not voice his disapproval but by his absence. He refuses to attend Macbeth’s crowning or put in an appearance at Macbeth’s feast just to keep up appearances. Macduff’s honesty is revealed when he is tested by Malcom in Act 4, Scene 3. His honesty in a play like Macbeth is like a breath of fresh air. When Macduff hears of the murder of his wife and children, he handles it quite maturely. By having the courage to feel his grief, he is able to convert his pain into a burning desire for righteous revenge. This man here is an example of what a good king would need in order to succeed. This man is humble, and doesn’t want power, all he wants is justice and fairness.
With the use of theses three examples, it can be seen that power can corrupt. Power is something that if placed in the wrong hands, can spoil a lot. The greed for power can make people do outrageous things, and once the power gets into the wrong hands, it will be abused, and can disrupt the sort order that power is supposed to hold within the society. As I have shown in this essay power changes people and it is mostly for the worst, but that this isn’t true in all cases.