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fore the murder is the message that he sends by Banquo:
II i 12 ff.
The King's abed:
Before this, he has loaded his treacherous cousin with honours, in return for services which, by the standards of every age, it was Macbeth's clear duty to render. The heinousness of the offence is further emphasized by the fact that it takes place when Duncan is a guest in Macbeth's house. In order that the crime may seem“ most foul, strange and unnatural," these considerations are rehearsed by Macbeth himself an hour or two before the deed is done:
I vii 12 ff.
He's here in double trust;
For the same poetic purpose, Shakespeare has (2) Banquo. transformed Banquo into a man of incorruptible loyalty and integrity. In the chronicle, he is an accessory to the assassination of his king, though afterwards he is slain by the fiend whom he had aided. In
I iii 123 ff.
II i 26 ff.
the play, we find him warning Macbeth piously
Oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
In deepest consequence.
So I lose none In seeking to augment it, but still keep My bosom franchised and allegiance clear, I shall be counsell’d. By the same art, Shakespeare represents Macbeth's reason for turning against Banquo notHolinshed implies — from fear of betrayal by a partner in crime, but because he apprehends Banquo's suspicions of his own procedure, and is daunted by the man's wisdom and virtue:
Our fears in Banquo
III i 49 ff.
Thus does Shakespeare effect the double purpose of contributing to the dramatic development of Macbeth's character by intensifying his crime in every possible way, and also of portraying, in large part through the hero-villain's lips, the characters of his companions and enemies. All that we hear from Shakespeare of Macduff (3) Mac
duff. makes us wish that we could hear more. He is a type of purest patriotism, weeping for his suffering country, but not sitting down in idleness to bemoan its fate. The scene in which we get our most vivid impression of him is that of his long interview with Malcolm in London, upon which Ross breaks in to IVüi. tell the news of the sacking of Macduff's castle and the slaughter of his wife and children by Macbeth. The conversation with Malcolm is the one point in the play in which Shakespeare seems to be somewhat burdened by the history that he is following. It is simply a versified paraphrase of the tedious interview recorded by Holinshed, and we seem to feel the poet turning with relief to the conversation that ensues upon the entrance of Ross, in which his inventive faculty has freer scope.
One of the most interesting aspects of this tragedy The play as is the study in marriage which the two chief char- a study in
marriage. acters present. Macbeth and his wife are a perfect partnership, in the sense that each has the qualities needed to supplement those of the other. Devils to the rest of the world, to one another they are angels. Mischance between them twain never comes; nor jealousy, nor distrust. Lady Macbeth spurs him on to the bloody courses that may lead to the fulfilment of his ambitions, but we feel that she is ambitious vicariously - for him, not for herself. Her murderous cruelty is no part of her true nature, but
is assumed by a violent effort, in order that she may be instrumental to those ends of his which, in loyalty to him, she has made her own. There is no pettiness in either of them, and neither is egoistic as against the other. Moreover, the effect of their joint crimes is to bring them closer together and enhance their mutual dependence, just as misfortune does in the case of innocent partners. The last thought of Lady Macbeth in the Sleep-Walking scene is for her husband; and his greatest outburst of black despair is provoked by the news of her death. Shakespeare is well aware that good qualities, though turned awry and denatured by a voluntary embracing of evil, are yet not destroyed. The mutual fidelity of the Macbeths is deepened by the wickedness that brings upon them the just hatred of all the world. Milton has remarked that there is firm concord among devils.
Yet this devoted couple, having chosen the way of treachery and blood, are self-doomed to a perpetual descent, through crime after crime, to the deepest hell of disappointment and remorse. The happiness they seek is slain in the very moment that they determine to seek it by foul means; and, once they have set out upon that road, nothing can draw them back, or give them again the serenity of innocence. Already while Macbeth is at his devil's work in Duncan's chamber, the misgivings which at last are to destroy her awaken in Lady Macbeth's mind: “The attempt, and not the deed, confounds us.' When they have got the empty prize they have so foully played for, she forthwith finds what DeadSea fruit she has plucked :
Nought's had, all's spent,
The doom of the assassins.
III ii 5 ff.
'Tis safer to be that which we destroy
Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.
Better be with the dead,
Ibid. 19 ff.
Macbeth, indeed, presents a startling contrast to The fate of the picture of the perfectly unjust man drawn in the perfectly
unjust man. Plato's Republic by Glaucon and Adeimantus. These sophistic controversialists maintain that if a man were entirely untroubled by any scruple about what is commonly called righteousness, he would have all the advantages which the hypocritical assumption of integrity can bring, together with the profit of perfect unscrupulousness from his treatment of others. Even Socrates anticipates for such an one not the inward inferno of remorse, but the calm of