McGuffey 1 The Tragedy of Ambition Thesis: Supernatural symbolism, omens, and witches are the catalysts for Macbeth‟s ambition. Symbolism found in the play shows the relationship to supernatural elements and Macbeth‟s ambition. There are several elements that have symbolism which also are supernatural in the play. The first can be found in Macbeth‟s killing of Duncan and the supernatural aspect can be found in the voice that follows, “Macbeth shall sleep no more!” (2.2.42 Shakespeare). Macbeth kills Duncan while he is sleeping; eluding to the fact that Macbeth has killed not only Duncan, but “sleep” itself. The supernatural aspect of this is the fact that once Macbeth kills Duncan, a voice can be heard prophesizing that Macbeth will sleep no more. Another element of symbolism is when Macbeth speaking of his ambition to kill King Duncan, “Stars, hide your fires; let no light see my black and deep desires (1.4.50 Shakespeare). This quote symbolizes the light versus dark aspect in the play. Macbeth does not want anyone or any “light” to see his desire to kill Duncan. More symbolism is present on the night of Duncan‟s murder. The Old Man speaks, “A falcon, tow‟ring in her pride of place,/ Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed” (2.4.10 Shakespeare). This quote shows symbolism with the murder. The owl is an inferior animal to the falcon. This is suppose to show how Macbeth was inferior to Duncan, however he was able to kill him. Another element of symbolism in the murder are Duncan‟s prized horses. The Old Man speaks, “And Duncan‟s horses-a thing most strange and certain-Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race, Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, Contending „gainst obedience, as they would make War with mankind” (2.4.14 Shakespeare). This represents the chaos existing after the Duncan‟s murder. The horses are supposed to be tamed and obedient, McGuffey 2 but on this night they bust out of their stalls and run off. Symbolism found throughout the play shows how evil is connected with Macbeth‟s ambition. The presence of omens in the play also stimulates Macbeth‟s ambition. Omens play a big role in the play. They are found throughout the main scene in the play, Duncan‟s death. In the opening of this scene Macbeth remarks, Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal, vision, sensible To feeling as to sight, or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable as this which now I draw. (2.2.33-41 Shakespeare) This quote shows the omen of the murder that Macbeth is about to commit. He sees a dagger in front of him, but it is not really there. Him clutching the imaginary dagger shows the reader that he is ready to commit his evil dead. There is also more presence of omens. On the night of Macbeth killing of Duncan he remarks on the ominous night, Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse the curtained sleep; witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate‟s offerings and withered murder, Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl‟s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace…I go, and it is done: the bell invites me. Hear it no, Duncan, for it is a knell That summons thee to heaven, or to hell. (2.1.50-64 Shakespeare) This quote explains that Macbeth things the night is very ominous and there is aspect of it that makes it supernatural. He mentions that “witchcraft celebrates” since he feels that evil is about to happen and witches during that time were evil. There seems to be evil surrounding the entire night of Duncan‟s death. Lady Macbeth even feels and hears omens for her part in the plotting. McGuffey 3 While speaking during the time Macbeth is killing Duncan she remarks, “Hark! Peace! It was the owl that shrieked” (2.2.3 Shakespeare). The owl that shrieked and scared Lady Macbeth is related to the traditional omen of death. An owl at night hooting has been an omen of death in literature for a while. Later, in the scene she speaks with Macbeth about the murder she reiterates, “I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry” (2.2.15 Shakespeare). She remarks on the sounds she has heard during the event of Duncan‟s death. Not only did she hear the owl hoot, but she hears crickets as well. Crickets, like Owls, are a traditional omen of death (Boyce 54). It seems supernatural omens surround Macbeth during his quest for his ambition. The witches use their magic and fortune telling abilities to awaken Macbeth‟s ambition. The witch seem to be the root of Macbeth ambitious calling. The witches are the main reason that Macbeth‟s ambition appears and goes as far as it does in the play. Many authors have written criticism about the witches in the play. One writes, “These three figures are best viewed as individuals meddlers, toying with human action. The outcome of events matters little to them. They desire only to play upon human unverniabilities and to tap the evil within, and they have chosen as the subject, Macbeth, whose frailties and vices are exploitable” (Thrasher Understanding Macbeth 81-2). The witches desire only to play or torment with humans. They try to tap evil into their target‟s life. Macbeth gets caught in their web and they stimulate his ambition which leads to his demise. In the very beginning of the play the witches speak, “Where the place? Upon the heath. There to meet with Macbeth. I come, Graymalkin. Paddock calls. Anon! Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air” (1.1.6 Shakespeare). The witches speak of Macbeth before the reader reads about him in the play. It seems as though from the very beginning the witches wish to disturb natural balance of human choice or wisdom. The witches pick him out to push there evil intentions on to him. Soon after the opening McGuffey 4 sequence of the witches, they appear again. This time they actually meet Macbeth. The witch greet him and address, “All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis! All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor! All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” (1.3.48 Shakespeare). During this quote, the witches achieve what they sought to do. They wished to put influence in Macbeth‟s head by saying things he would wish to attain. The suggestion to Macbeth gets him interested in the fact that he could become king. Macbeth likes this suggestion and starts to think about what he could do to achieve it. Macbeth‟s ambition is starting to turn into the evil component that is part of the tragedy of the play. However, this is not the only time the witches try to stir up Macbeth ambition. During, the same scene the witches also speak to Banquo. The witches utter, “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!” (1.3.65 Shakespeare). The witches tell prophecies to Macbeth that he will become king, but Banquo‟s kin would rule for a lot longer. Once it sees that he has indeed become Thane of Cawdor he panders about being king and what he would have to do to stay king. He wishes not only to be king however, but to be a father of many kings throughout time. The witches use their powers to stir up Macbeth‟s ambition. You need more support. You rely heavily on the primary source and expect all analysis to come from there. Get more sources and weave everything together. English 12 Literary Research Paper Rough Draft CATEGORY 4 3 2 1 Total McGuffey 5 Thesis Is clearly stated as Is a complete Is a complete Is not a complete 3 Statement a complete sentence and sentence and sentence and/or sentence and tells provides some idea provides little idea provides no exactly what the as to the content of as to the content of information as to paper is about the paper the paper the content of the paper Body Are logically Are arranged in a Are somewhat No logical 3 Paragraphs arranged and easy reasonably logical logically arranged arrangement and to follow order and and slightly difficult very difficult to somewhat easy to to follow follow follow Paragraph All paragraphs Most paragraphs Paragraphs Paragraphing 2 Construction include introductory include introductory included related structure was not sentence, sentence, information but clear and explanations or explanations or were typically not sentences were details, and details, and constructed well. not typically concluding concluding related within the sentence. sentence. paragraphs. Sentence Uses a variety of Uses a variety of Uses some variety Uses no variety in 4 Structure sentence structures sentence structures in sentence sentence structure with few mistakes with some mistakes structure with many mistakes Amount of All topics are All topics are All topics are One or more 2 Information addressed and all addressed and addressed, and topics were not questions most questions most questions addressed. answered with at answered with at answered with 1 least 2 quotes or least 2 sentences sentence about sources about about each. each. each. Quality of Information clearly Information clearly Information clearly Information has 3 Information relates to the main relates to the main relates to the main little or nothing to topic. It includes topic. It provides 1- topic. No details do with the main several supporting 2 supporting details and/or examples topic. details and/or and/or examples. are given. examples. Mechanics No grammatical, Almost no A few grammatical Many 1 spelling or grammatical, spelling, or grammatical, punctuation errors. spelling or punctuation errors. spelling, or punctuation errors punctuation errors. Format Follows MLA format Follows MLA format Follows MLA format Does not follow 3 with a few minor with some errors with many errors MLA format errors Sources All sources All sources All sources Some sources are 3 (information and (information and (information and not accurately graphics) are graphics) are graphics) are documented. accurately accurately accurately documented in the documented, but a documented, but desired format. few are not in the many are not in the desired format. desired format. Total: 24/40 McGuffey 6 Works Cited Boyce, Charles. “Macbeth”. Enclyopedia of Shakespeare A to Z. Ed. David White. New York: Oxford, 1991. Brooks, Cleanth. “Macbeth Tempts Fate.” Readings on The Tragedies. Ed. Clarice Swisher. San Diego: Greenhaven, 1996. 161-76. Excerpted fr. The Well Wrought Urn. Harcourt, 1975. Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth. Elements of Literature. Ed. Kristine E. Marshall and Mairead Stack. Austin: Holt, 2000. 301-82. Thrasher, Thomas. “The Characters of Macbeth.” Understanding Macbeth. San Diego: Lucent, 2002. 71-82.