Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 3

Macbeth by William Shakespeare is a powerful tragedy which chronicles the downfall of the heroic Macbeth.

Set during the reign of James 1 in 1606, this is a profound illustration of the consequences of untamed ambition, which is the driving force of Macbeths life. Through Macbeth, the contemporary audience are able to witness the Shakespearean idea of tragedy. Whilst several directors have attempted to portray the tragedy of Macbeth it is the film, Macbeth, directed by Roman Polanski that depicts the brutal transformation of the once heroic warrior in his dramatic and compelling adaption of the play. Ambition is an overarching theme in Shakespeares Macbeth, vivid in its illustration in both text and the adaptation. Ambition along with greed is what leads Macbeth and Lady Macbeth to commit such unlawful murders. The problem, the play suggests, is that once one decides to use violence to further ones quest for power, it is difficult to stop. In both the play and the on screen version, the protagonist Macbeth is first introduced through other people. He is first described by the captain as "brave" and then as "noble" by King Duncan. We as the audience learn that through his loyalty, devotion and love for the king, Macbeth has willingly risked his own life to fight the traitor Macdonald; "Unseamed him from the navel to the chops." Whilst MacDonalds murder scene is only discussed in the play, Shakespeare adaptation allows us to visualise this brutal murder scene as the camera draws in on the execution of the Thane of Cawdor. Not only does this immediately draw the audience into an unsettling world of violence and commotion, but foreshadows the inevitable death of Macbeth. As it is the "weird sisters" who are able to draw out the heros greatest weakness, being ambition. Both Shakespeare and Polanski physically introduce Macbeth in Act 1 Scene 3. The scene opens with the witches boasting about the evil deeds they have committed; "drain him dry as hay". In the play, the witches are portrayed as almost ominously anticipating the arrival of Macbeth upon the "blasted heath". Contrastingly, Shakespeares adaptation presents the ambiguous witches rocking backwards and forwards, whilst a rising growl from the distant sky can be apprehended. This not only creates a dark and sinister atmosphere but also establishes a grim mood for the entire play, capturing the audiences imagination. The witches embody demonic intelligences, which are scarcely human and whilst they do provide information, they do not directly invite human beings to commit crimes. They provide Macbeth with the prophecies that he will become "Thane of Cawdor" and "King hereafter". Whilst Banquo is able to understand the dangers of trusting such supernatural messages, Macbeth instantly begins to adhere to their prophecies. In Polanskis modification, we are able to see the hellish vision of Shakespeare come to life through the witches bloody curling and grotesque make up. It is this backdrop of looming wickedness that illustrates that the witches should not be trusted, creating an uncomfortable feeling within the audience as they question their ability to predict what hasnt occurred yet. Macbeths ambition unfolding is illustrated through the scene being shot in very subdued lightning and the unchanging camera angle. The soliloquy beginning, "two truths are told" illustrates that Macbeth is all too quickly imagining the steps he will need to become king;

My thought whose murder yet is but fantastical". Both on screen and on text, Macbeth is characterised as being in turmoil in his first soliloquy. Shakespeare highlights how the murder of Duncan seems to horrify Macbeth, but he seems to counter it with a morbid fascination of its prospects. This is further reinforced with the films animation of Macbeth, his wide eyes, raised eyebrows and petrified facial expressions reflecting his fragile state of mind and great discomfort. This scene also acts as a pivotal moment in the play and showcases an individuals continuous struggle between foul and fair. The once noble warrior is depicted to be plagued with worry as to whether he should murder King Duncan or not; "If chance will have me King why chance may crown me without my stir". Through the course of the drama, we are able to see that Macbeth seems to overcome the beast in his mind and nearly aborts the crime. However, the adaptations use of a fierce yet deadly hawk soaring through the velvet sky foreshadows that Macbeth will come to change his mind and embody the devilish ways of the supernatural. Macbeth chooses to share his inner most thoughts with his "dearest partner of greatness" Lady Macbeth. She is the power hungry, ruthless wife of Macbeth who also embodies the theme of ambition. The fact she is more inclined to murderous blood than nurturing milk illustrates her destructive nature .This not only shocks the modern day audience, but signifies the continual or cyclic state of unrest within the world. Whilst many people viewed Lady Macbeth as a callous and destructive individual, I believe the portrayal of Lady Macbeth as such a dominating and sexual person can be viewed as a reflection of the womens liberation movement occurring at the time. This view may be shared by Polanski who depicts Lady Macbeth as a gentle and loving woman of great stance. As he contrastingly presents Lady Macbeth as an angelic individual shown through the low camera angle and her flowing blue dress in contrast to the dull and dreary background. Furthermore Shakespeare illustrates the lengths Lady Macbeth will go to, to become Queen. This illustrates that her valve is greater than the typical female, as females in the sixteenth century were viewed as inferior figures. This belief is not shared by Macbeth who gives his wife equal status, the consequence of which is disastrous; "That I may pour my spirits in thines ear." Her desire to "unsex" herself and free herself of "womens breast" shows a curious parallel with the ambiguous sexuality of the witches themselves. This is augmented by the nude shot of Lady Macbeth which not only reflects upon the sexuality of her character, but her realness and feelings as a person .Women, the play implies in my opinion, can be as ambitious and cruel as men, yet social constraints deny them the means to pursue these ambitions on their own. Polanski visually allows us to view Lady Macbeths hysterical yet heart wrenching sobs that drives Macbeth to brutally murder the King. She also questions his manhood which is the bitterest possible charge for a soldier to endure from the women he loves; "When you dust do it than you were a man." Through this scene, Shakespeare is able to establish Lady Macbeths full share of responsibly for what is to happen. Her dominance and perseverance is emphasized here as Macbeth seems to only

agree to kill King Duncan to prove his manhood to the women he loves. This is further emphasized through Polanskis adaption which shows a change from the initially white backdrop to a darker, sinister setting. This links with the plays imagery of darkness and night and emphasizes the connection between the Macbeths and the "instruments of darkness". This eerie and unnatural setting creates a feeling of unrest within the audience who understand the perils of darkness both Macbeth and his wife have sunk into. Moreover, Lady Macbeths plan to murder the guards shows that the idea that "one murder" will be sufficient which Macbeths hope is already undermined. The use of the perilous hawk in the sky once more foreshadows the countless murders both Macbeth and his wife will commit to continue their reign as King and Queen due to the extent greed and ambition have over taken them. Here, the reader is now finally able to conclude that Macbeths and Lady Macbeths death seems inevitable. Conclusively through the vivid portrayal of the corrupting and destructive nature of possessing such evil ambitions, both Shakespeare and Polanski convey how Macbeth is drawn away from good resulting in an entire transformation of character. Both adaptations illustrate ambition helped, of course, by the malign prophecies of the witches is what drives the couple to commit even more terrible atrocities. Both adaptations suggest that ambition is the fundamental theme that results in the political order depicted in the play to descend into chaos.