Contrasting Kings

  • Category: English
  • Words: 757
  • Grade: 98
Every honorable story written has two characters that contrast one
another. It makes for a fascinating addition to the plot and makes the
reader think. In William Shakespeare's, Macbeth, one can compare
Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne, to Macbeth, the soldier and
Thane who murders his way to kingship. One can plainly see that these
two characters are different in almost every way.
        Motivation is a key part in being a great ruler. Without motivation,
one will accomplish nothing. Motivation is defined as the force that drives
one to action. In, Macbeth, motivation is one distinct difference between
Malcolm and Macbeth. Malcolm is motivated by his strong sense of
morality and his ability to control the nation and society lawfully. He uses
his wits to maneuver his way out of a major dilemma, that being,
Macbeth's plan to murder him and forcefully take the throne. However,
Macbeth's motivations are not so innocent. Macbeth is motivated purely
by greed. He is seemingly overtaken by this greed when the weird sisters
predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor,
and King of Scotland.
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis.
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor.
All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, that shalt be King hereafter.
-Weird Sisters
After the prophecy of the weird sisters, Macbeth takes it upon himself to
make this prophecy a reality. While at first, he is hesitant, he brings it to
discussion with his wife, Lady Macbeth, and she encourages him to do
what it takes to make him the king.
Oh, never shall sun that morrow see!
Your face, my Thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the time, bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue. Look like the innocent flower
But be the serpent under 't.
-Lady Macbeth
With Lady Macbeth's encouragement and not-so-subtle pushes, Macbeth
finds the courage and determination within himself to murder the current
King of Scotland, Duncan, and frame the two men who are supposed to be
guarding Duncan as he sleeps.
        Another key characteristic of a great ruler is the ability to rule in a
lawful, yet kind way. One must not only be the leader of the people, but
also a friend to the people. One must either be liked, or dethroned.
Malcolm and Macbeth differ, in that, Malcolm would rule justifiably and
kindly. As the son of Duncan, the people already like him. Malcolm looks
out for the best interest of society. Macbeth, on the other hand, rules with
a harsh hand. His main priority is not the well being of society, but the
well being of Macbeth. He does not care what happens to his people, as
long as he remains in power.
        The last remaining quality found in all great rulers is manipulation.
The ability to manipulate people and surroundings to one's liking is key.
Malcolm shows his manipulative side when a conversation between him
and Macduff occurs in England. Malcolm questions Macduff's reasoning
for coming to England and finding him. He wonders if Macduff has come
to persuade him into returning to Scotland, only so Macbeth and his
followers can murder him also. Malcolm then makes himself out to look
bad so that Macduff will not want him to come back, that is, if he
honestly wants him to come to Scotland to rule. Therefore Malcolm only
used his ability to manipulate others in a search for truth.
A staunchless avarice that, were I King,
I should cut off the nobles for their lands,
Desire his jewels and this other's house.
And my more-having would be as a sauce
To make me hunger more, that I should forge
Quarrels unjust against the good and loyal,
Destroying them for wealth.
However, Macbeth used manipulation for his own evil purposes. He used
manipulation in a plot to convince the murderers that Banquo was the
cause of all of their financial struggles and their bad work environments.
This I made good to you,
In our last conference, passed in probation with you,
How you were borne in hand, how crossed, the instruments,
Who wrought with them, and all things else that might
To half a soul and to a notion crazed
Say "Thus did Banquo."
Macbeth did this only to serve his own selfish needs, whereas Malcolm
only used manipulation for the good of himself and those around him.
        In conclusion, the two characters that are most easily compared in
Shakespeare's Macbeth are that of Macbeth, the soldier who battles his way
to the throne, and Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne. These two
roles are different in almost every way possible. They differ from the way
the manipulate, to the way they reign over society. The only exception to
their differentiation is the fact that both of them want to rule Scotland.
With only one similarity between them, these characters are a clear
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