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Corruption And Greed In Shakespeare’s Macbeth

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William Shakespeare is a 17th century playwright, notorious for writing plays whose themes are often relevant in today’s 21st century societies. The theme ‘ambition corrupts power’ is seen frequently in modern politics and governments and walks parallel with the theme of ‘greed’. Both themes are very prevalent amongst today’s generation of people, as well as in the famous play, Macbeth. Today, the themes of ‘ambition corrupts power’ and ‘greed’ are found in the practice of dictatorship, corruption, and acquisitiveness of the people. These same themes were found in Macbeth’s tyranny, and his immoral means to obtain, and later, retain his power. 

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Throughout the play, Macbeth, we see the corruption of the eponymous main character through his gain of power. Dictators throughout history follow the same line of pursuit, where their ambition creates a corrupt system of leadership. North Korea’s former dictator, Kim Jung-il is a prime example of corrupted power through severely unchecked ambition. His dictatorship has been infamous for the brutal, and secretive living conditions the civilians endured while he was in power. Much like Kim Jung-il, Macbeth was a ruthless tyrant, once glorified as a brave and strong warrior. His glimpse of power, given to him as award by King Duncan, bred immoral actions, that led to the murder of many innocent bystanders. Corruption is motivated by the lust for power. There are examples of corruption today, as well as in the play, Macbeth. In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth learns of her husband’s rise to power as the new Thane of Cawdor. The more powerful she became, the more she lusted for power. Her corruption motivated Macbeth to complete actions that he would not otherwise do. The idea of corruption is not new, nor has it vanished in modern society. Corruption in politics is an international epidemic. Politicians today commit crimes, such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, and in more extreme cases, homicide, to gain power, and are examples of corruption in modern-day.

Throughout Macbeth, greed is expressed in multiple scenarios. At the heart of all Macbeth’s irrational decisions is greed for more power. Greed is a common theme throughout world history. It is human nature to be greedy, whether it be for power, money, or possession. Macbeth’s greed led to his downfall. His greed gave him a false sense of security. Many companies contribute to corporate greed, and individual people are greedy for the sake of illegitimate personal gain.

In conclusion, Macbeth has many themes relevant to today’s society; two main themes being, ‘ambition corrupts power’, and ‘greed’. We see examples of these themes through dictatorship, in both Macbeth and throughout history; corruption of individuals and of governments; and both corporate and individual greed. Shakespeare’s work is considered timeless, and it is for a good reason. 

09 March 2021

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