Flipping an Ethical Switch or Fraying the Emotional Wires?
He suffers tremendously as he commits each and every criminal act. Tyson, having established his definition of good and evil, proceeds to explore the relevance of the banquet scene in reference to “the whole movement of the play. “ He sees the banquet scene as a moment of transformation from “order to chaos,” both within and around Macbeth. This analysis again raises questions, in that an investigation of the preceding scenes of the play reveals evidence to a progression toward chaos bettor the opening to the banquet scene.
Macbeth is tortured by the fact that, from the beginning of the play, he knows he is living in an ambiguous world of a clash between his conscience and his desire for kingship. He verbally manifests his acknowledgement of this internal clash prior to the banquet scene: I am Thane of Castor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs Against the use of nature? Present fears Are less than horrible imaginings.
My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man That function is smothered in surmise, And nothing is but what is not. (l. Iii. 146-1 55) Fulfilling the witches’ prediction, Macbeth becomes the “Thane of Castor” and, although he capitulates “to that suggestion,” he cannot reconcile the reality of the truth of the first prophecy with his intense and unnatural fear, or his “horrible imaginings. ” The actuality of the witches’ prophecy “shakes so [Machete’s] single state of man,” makes his “seated heart knock at [his] ribs,” and “[unfixes his] hair.
Not only is Macbeth shocked by the metallization of the witches’ first prophecy to the point of believing that “nothing is but what is not,” but he is also frightened at the possibility of the fulfillment of the witches’ other prophecies, which would make him king. The witches’ first prophecy goes “against the use of nature” and this unnatural situation twists Machete’s mind into moral knots very early in the play. Machete’s action of killing Duncan is also contrary to nature and he knows it. The wounds inflicted on Duncan look like “a breach in nature” (el. Iii. 32), and even the sun mess to feel the effect of the murder: Ross: And yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp. Is t night’s predominance or the days shame That darkness does the face of earth entomb When living light should kiss it? By the’ clock its day, Old Man: ‘Its unnatural, Even like the deed that’s done. (el. Iv. 8-14) Dunce’s murder has not only affected Macbeth psychologically, but it has also disturbed his sense of the natural world by masking “the traveling lamp” with “dark night. ” This “darkness” that fills “the face of earth” is considered “unnatural… Like the deed that’s done,” the deed being the murder of Duncan.
The event of Dunce’s murder not only disrupts Machete’s moral sense, but also the order of the natural world previous to the further unrest that ensues during the banquet scene. Prior to his vision of Banquet ghost, Machete’s multiple imaginings of physical phenomena, tied to his conscience, attempt to block him from crime, while causing him internal strife. Signs of Machete’s mental torture appear before the banquet scene: Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?… Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation
Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain? (11. 1. 44-51) The “dagger” that Macbeth envisions “before [him]” is definitely simply “a dagger of the mind, a false creation” that Machete’s torn conscience creates. As he proceeds in killing Duncan, Macbeth is simultaneously psychologically persecuted all along the way. After Duncan is killed, Machete’s mind creates another sign: Method I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep”… Still it cried “Sleep no more! ” to all the house. “Glacis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Castor Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more. ” (11. 47-48, 54-57) This “voice” that Macbeth seems to hear “cry ‘Sleep no more! ” is solely a product of his emotional agony. It is as if his three names, Lord “Glacis,” Thane of “Castor,” and “Macbeth” give him three personalities in which to suffer the doom of sleeplessness. This unnatural occurrence is followed by yet another soon after: “Whence is that / knocking? ” (el. Ii. 74-75) This mysterious “knocking” should be perfectly familiar to him. Yet what scares him is that he does not know what world this sound is coming from- the world of his imagination or the real world, at the door of his castle.
Machete’s state of mind as he approaches the throne in the banquet scene is a clear composite of all his crises of conscience that precede the scene. The fact that Tyson does not address these events in his paper suggests a possible omission in his analysis. Defending his argument of its structural importance as a critical Juncture in the play, Tyson delves into a detailed examination of the banquet scene where Machete’s mindset moves from that of the market to that of the raven. He divides the scene into five “moments,” in which he asserts that Macbeth essentially flips from good to evil.
A close reading of these “moments” reveals the possibility of an alternative interpretation of the purpose of the scene. Tyson sees the function of the first moment, from the “opening of the scene to the entrance of the first murderer,” as the establishment of the banquet as twofold, “a symbol of order and hierarchy’ as well as “a symbol of union. ” His focus on hierarchy appears to be right on track as a reflection of the formal setting of the Elizabethan society in which the play transpires. Machete’s language of “degrees” and “state” realistically reflect the social conventions f the time in the upper class crust of society.
However, Dagon’s reference to the banquet as a representation of fellowship between the king and his community does not appear to be applicable to this particular event. Superficially, all is well between Macbeth and his people, but prior to this scene Macbeth has already deceived them by having both killed Duncan and planned the murder of Banquet. Consequently, the subtext of the opening of this feast can only be one of dishonesty, as opposed to harmony. Macbeth, to use Dagon’s terms, could not possibly, at this point, be part of the “market world”
Tyson interprets the second moment to the scene, Machete’s conversation with the murderer, as “an ironic interlude” in which the stage is set for Machete’s turn from good to evil. It is at this point that “Shakespeare sets side by side symbolically the two levels of reality before one makes chaos of the other. ” Dagon’s argument is credible in that Shakespeare does Juxtapose the two sides of Machete’s internal conflict, possibly for the more subtle purpose of communicating to Machete’s psyche the misguided notion that continual killing will not control his conflict and take away his torment.
The fact that the murderer reports the news that Balance is still alive and that Macbeth will have to kill again destroys Machete’s superficial calm. This allows his conflicted soul to erupt yet again. He is “cabinet, cribbed, confined, bound in / to saucy doubts and fears. ” (Ill. Iv. 26-27) The turning point of the scene, in Dagon’s eyes, occurs as Macbeth envisions Banquet ghost sitting in his chair at the banquet. He sees this moment as the “center of the play, the moment when Machete’s world turns over, the moment of tragic insight. ” A precise reading of Machete’s words reveals another possible interpretation.
Tyson neglects to make note of the fact that Macbeth uses the plural when referring to the ghosts that are haunting him: “But now they rise again. ” (Ill. Iv. 96) The plural “they’ that Macbeth uses implies that Banquet ghost is representative of more than one of the murders that Macbeth has committed. Namely, Banquet apparition haunts Macbeth from both Dunce’s as well as his own grave. The presence of the ghost gives a visible form to the multiplicity of Machete’s terrors. To Tyson, “the consequence of the ghost’s visit is, of course, chaos. Chaos, in Dagon’s fourth moment leads to Machete’s damnation n the form of moral exhaustion and isolation in the fifth moment. It is clear to Machete’s community that he is not a man capable of leadership due to his “fit” (Ill. Iv. 66) when Lennox says to Lady Macbeth, “Good night and better health / attend his Majesty. ” (Ill. Iv. 148-149) The psychological agony that Macbeth has been experiencing internally throughout the entire play now has been broadcast to his people. The fallout of this scene is not a new sense of exhaustion and isolation as Tyson claims, but rather an extension of his exhaustion and isolation that already existed.