What are the thematic relationships between The Cellist of Sarajevo and Macbeth?

Macbeth and The Cellist of Sarajevo both explore how conflict and war change how people define right and wrong, and as a result change who people are. For example, there's a parallel between Macbeth’s internal conflict over killing Duncan and Arrow’s internal conflict over killing the sniper. They both experience doubt but ultimately kill out of a sense of duty. They are forever changed by what they do, which suggests that conceptions of morality shape people’s identities.

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Both Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth explore the nature of morality and its impact on how people act and conceptualize the world around them. It is likely that the way in which Shakespeare dealt with this theme had an impact on how Galloway did.

Both texts confront the concept of war and power struggles and how these can complicate people’s understanding of what is right and what is wrong. The duties and sacrifices required by conflict in both texts cause people to do things that seem to go against their nature and have intense ramifications on how they see themselves and how they see the world around them.

Consider the parallel between Macbeth’s internal conflict over killing King Duncan and Arrow’s reluctance to kill the sniper listening to the music. They both are extremely conflicted and a bit reluctant, but they ultimately commit murder because it is what they must do. They both experience moments of self-doubt trumped by reflections on their duty. In the end they are both forever changed by their personal involvement in perpetuating conflict and causing others harm. These events suggest that committing immoral acts, not matter what the context, forever alters one’s identity.

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