How does Macbeth relate to any problem we might be suffering from right now? Or contemporary culture?
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As the two previous posts so well point out, this obsessive desire for power is a clear problem in our culture.
Another trait of Macbeth is his paranoia which results from the predictions of the witches. Because of this fear that someone may claim the throne before he, he murders anyone in his way. His actions recall those of Sadaam Hussain who brutally and unconscionably eliminated anyone who threatened him politically.
The contemporary American who comes to my mind immediately is Bernie Madoff, recently convicted and sent to prison for the rest of his life. Money gives people power, and Madoff's desire for both was unquenchable. In his selfishness, lying, diabolical deceit, and masterful wearing of a "false face" to fool those who trusted him, he reminds me a great deal of Macbeth. Like Macbeth, he was cold and calculating as he destroyed the lives of others to get what he wanted and to feed his ego. And like Macbeth, he became the most hated figure in his country.
The most recent contemporary American parallel to Macbeth that comes to my mind is Rudy and Patty Blagojevich in Illinois. Although they did not commit murder, they certainly exemplify the ruthless ambition and willingness to break any number of laws to get what they want and improve their station in life. The tapes of them on the phone together and the filthy language they used with each other as a matter of course in conversation underscored the coarseness and venality of the impression they both made on the public.
The desiring of greater power and doing nearly anything to obtain it possesses a timeless quality. The envy/ want/ coveting of something that we feel is something that should be ours and our willingness to do anything to get it is something that relates to any setting. The power of Macbeth is not that it is isolated to something in Shakespearean time, nor is something that only extends to people of political stature. The relationship between the ascendancy of power and the decline of one's moral character is a theme that presents itself in the most elemental of circumstances, around us each day, and present in our daily interactions. Being encouraged to "break the rules," or to vitiate a moral code of conduct is simultaneously quite modern and ancient.
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