Jul 4, 2019 in Literature

Shakespeare's Representation of Soldiers in Conflict

The tragedy “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare represents a versatility of themes and characters to discuss. However, the representation of soldiers in conflict is, perhaps, the focal one. The main character is tempted to kill the king of Scotland, as he was told to become a new king in the battlefield by three witches. Nevertheless, Macbeth is a devoted general of the king Duncan who fulfils all the tasks and commands the king gives him at the very beginning. As a general, he has a troop of brave soldiers who either support or deny his thoughts of “betrayal”.

Thus, the main collision among soldiers starts since the very moment Macbeth tries to reconsider his inner intentions before and after putting them in action. First of all, in Act I Scene II, The conflict with Norway made possible for Macbeth to become the Thane of Cawdor. The warlike tensions between king’s subjects give them a way to hope for a better place under the sun. This is why jealousy and conflict are inseparable from all of them and Macbeth, in particular. As the main glory was ascribed to Macbeth, it becomes a reason to the Macbeth’s conflict with Banquo and then with the king. One of the most striking phrases pronounced in this scene was the Sergeant’s one, namely: “No sooner justice had with valour armed”.

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It is exactly what noble soldiers of the King Duncan had in their minds while returning from the battlefield. All in all, Duncan and Sergeant face with a particular kind of transformation in the battlefield of the Fife County. Kinsmen still show their deep devotion to the king and his son, Malcolm, until the moment when Macbeth starts fighting with his mental contradiction comes. In Act 5 Scene 4, Malcolm gathers his soldiers, Siward, and Macduff in order to give a death-blow to Macbeth who is the main enemy at the moment. Malcolm says: “And none serve with him but constrained things, whose hearts are absent too”. Shakespeare portrays soldiers as split into two sides: for and against Macbeth. On the other hand, all of the soldiers follow the standards of genteelness and devotion for the sake of the truth they have chosen. What is more, each part is ready for violence and direct intrusion into the heart of an army. Siward is one of those characters who are eager to wreak vengeance upon his enemy: “Thoughts speculative their unsure hopes relate, but certain issue strokes must arbitrate towards which, advance the war.”.

This contradiction is really huge, and Shakespeare is apt at describing it in a dark light. Warriors cannot be weak for whatever reason they fight. The author followed this way of thinking in order to describe the fears as well as the courage of the main opponents in the tragedy. This is why Shakespeare highlights Macbeth as an ordinary man pertaining to evil, who has a moral courage to forward his army until the enemy is broken and, in fact, he provokes a civil war: “Were they not forced with those that should be ours, we might have met them dareful, beard to beard, and beat them backward home”.

The opposition of good and bad sides in a man is well described in “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare. Written in a dark manner of betrayal, evil, and disgrace among the main characters, it shows that noble persons can change their mind regarding precious values of honour, courage, goodness, and devotion. Soldiers are described in their ambiguity: those really devoted stayed with the king while others took the dark side of Macbeth. This is why the author pays attention to the inconstant human nature tempted by material rather than spiritual amenities in life.

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