What are the similarities between Richard Nixon and Macbeth?What are the similarities between Richard Nixon and Macbeth?

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amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Based on the released tapes of Nixon's conversations, we know that he was not careful with his language.  He was often profane and definitely illustrates prejudice toward those he considered to be of lower class than he.  Now, Macbeth did not use profane language, but there are people who would consider his repeated visits to the future-telling witches to be a profane act.  Macbeth is also abusive to those beneath him on the ladder of society--he treats Seyton, other servants, and even the witches as if they are all there to do his bidding without question.  He is so cruel that many run from him to the other army in order to free Scotland of its mournful state.

scarletpimpernel's profile pic

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

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In addition to the idea of power corrupting both men, you could argue that Nixon and Macbeth were surrounded with negative influences and poor advice.  Nixon did not act alone in the Watergate scandal, and had savvy political advisers who should have warned him about the illegality of his actions rather than participating in Nixon's scheme and helping with the cover-up.

Similarly, Macbeth places too much confidence in not only his wife's advice and plot but also in the ambiguous prophecies of the witches. Sadly, both men started out with what seemed like strong character and leadership potential--many Americans forget that Nixon kept his word and pulled troops out of Vietnam--but sacrificed their legacies and consciences for power.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This seems awfully unfair to Richard Nixon, but I suppose you could argue that Macbeth and Nixon are both willing to do whatever it takes to gain and keep power.

In the play, Macbeth becomes power-hungry after he hears the witches' prophecy.  He then kills anyone who he thinks is in his way, including the king and Banquo, and Macduff's family.

In real life, Richard Nixon really wanted to keep the presidency and to maintain his power over people who opposed him.  He did various illegal things in an attempt to accomplish these goals.

But the analogy falls apart when you consider that Nixon lied, and wiretapped, and used government powers to try to pressure enemies, but he never threw anyone in jail, and certainly did not kill anyone.

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katazynka | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Both men in positions of power abused their authority. Both men conspired to get rid of their enemies. Both men were delsusional and possessed similar personality traits. They both broke laws of civility and possessed the ability to have two faces as Janus.

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