"The desire for power is dangerous - leading only to destruction." Compare and contrast how this statement is explored in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth and John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice...

"The desire for power is dangerous - leading only to destruction."

Compare and contrast how this statement is explored in William Shakespeare's play Macbeth and John Steinbeck's novella Of Mice and Men.

What three arguments with evidence could be used here?

Please and thank you!

Asked on by amzbamz

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sciftw's profile pic

sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In both of those stories, the search for more power is evident, although it is much more obvious in Macbeth than in Of Mice and Men.  

Macbeth is easy.  He starts off the play fairly content.  He hears a prophecy that tells him he will be a king soon.  Not one to be patient, Macbeth murders the king to assume the throne.  It's downhill from there, because Macbeth kills just about anybody that could even remotely contest his place on the throne.  His lust for power leads Macbeth to kill many of the people close to him.  His wife even dies from what has to be guilt. Macbeth's desire for power is what ultimately led him to his own death and destruction.  

Of Mice and Men is a bit harder, because at first glance all of the characters look pretty powerless.  Lennie is really strong, but mentally a child.  George is intelligent, but not physically empowered and spends too much time saving Lennie.  Crooks is intelligent, but held back because of the extreme racism of the period.  It goes on and on.  Curley's wife desires more than she has, so she uses her powers of seduction and flirtation.  These are very dangerous to use around Lennie, because he accidentally kills her.  Curley desires more power on the ranch, and is quite an abusive boss to the ranch hands.  That comes back to bite him when Lennie breaks his hand.  

I would argue Macbeth's pursuit of absolute power corrupted him absolutely. Use his general decline in morals, and argue as well that in Of Mice and Men it's not so much the pursuit of power than causes destruction, but the abuse of power each person already has.  Third I would argue that Macbeth's death eliminated the power hungry threat, while Lennie's death doesn't do anything different for the world at large.  The audience is sort of relieved when Macbeth dies, but deeply saddened when Lennie dies. 

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