Sunday, April 28, 2013

1999 Open Essay Question

     From a novel or play choose a character (not necessarily the protagonist) whose mind is pulled in conflicting directions by two compelling desires, ambitions, obligations, or influences. Then, in a well-organized essay, identify each of the two conflicting forces and explain how this conflict within one character illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole. You may used one of the novels or plays listed below or another novel or play of similar literary quality.

     In Macbeth, Macbeth struggles between ambition and morals. Macbeth is shown the opportunity to achieve great power but finds that it comes at the cost of his morals and friendships. Throughout the play, Macbeth experiences a constant conflict between his quest for power and his internal moral compass, between evil and good, corruption and loyalty, and this conflict is used by the author, Shakespeare, to highlight the constant conflict in human nature and it's corruption.
     One side of this conflict is the morals of Macbeth. Macbeth has a very established moral character, one that is quickly tested over the course of the play. His morals represent the "good" side of his character, questioning his actions and himself throughout the play. Shakespeare uses Macbeth as an archetype for the human character and human nature. Like humanity, the morals of Macbeth are easily corrupted and twisted when power is the prize but only to a point. Macbeth begins to questions his actions before the murder of the king and and even stops himself from killing witnesses. While the morals of humans maybe easily twisted, morals prevent temptation and offer the better side of human nature.
      The other side of the conflict that troubles Macbeth is ambition. Macbeth's ambition leads him to take his chance at power once the opportunity arises. The witches present him his opportunity and he acts on it, killing the king and those who he feels poses a threat to his kingship. Morality acts as the opposition to his quest for power and ambition and morals find themselves in conflict over the duration of the play. Macbeth's ambition and mad quest for power acts as humanities darker side. Shakespeare, again using Macbeth as the archetype for human nature, shows the darker, evil side of humanity that will kill for the slightest chance at power. Macbeth shows the dark side of human nature and our violent quest to out do each other.
       Morality and ambition for the basis of the conflict that wages inside of Macbeth. Ambition lead to murder and death for the slightest bits of power while morality prevents temptation and hold back humans from horrific deeds. The old conflict between good and evil. Macbeth's character, his morals and his ambition, are the means in which the author reflects human nature.

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