Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Macbeth and Connections to Other Literature

Nicole Santarpia



This past week I enjoyed a viewing of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It was definitely difficult to find correlations between Macbeth and all of our readings, but if you just stick with me and read carefully you will be able to realize some similarities. I will be comparing Macbeth with Flanner O’Connor’s, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Gerard Manley Hopkins’, “God’s Grandeur,” and Jane Hirschfield’s, “Happiness”
In Flannery O’Connor’s, A Good Man is Hard to Find we explore the diluted idea of a “Good Man”. The grandmother likes to use this term in association with men who really are not good at all. She first uses it to describe Red Sammy after he complains that he let people charge their gas and he never got paid. The definition of someone that is good at this point is someone that it naive, stupid, ignorant. As the story progresses the grandmother and her family meet the Misfit, who is a killer on the loose. The grandmother asks him if he would shoot a lady, and he never directly answers that question, although in the end he does shoot her. She calls him good as well when we all know that he is far from it. In Macbeth we see the same idea of this distorted suggestion of what and who is good. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth think that he is the right or a “good” man for the throne. But, the only way to attain the throne is to kill the King, Duncan, and any other possible heirs to the throne. Although the two think he Macbeth is a good man for the throne, is someone who kills all these people a good person at all? And if he is not a good person, what makes him a good man for the throne?

The link between Macbeth and Hopkins’, “God’s Grandeur” is the idea of outrunning date or God. In the poem we explore the idea of God’s presence in our lives. In the fourth line of the poem Hopkins asks, “Why do men then now not reck his rod?” this can translate into why do men no longer fear God? Macbeth actually exhibits this non God-fearing quality. In this case God comes in the form of the three witches Macbeth visits to give him information about the future. They tell him that no man born of woman can hurt him, and that he is safe until the Birnam Wood comes to his castle. This gives him a false sense of assurance, which leads to his ultimate demise; Macduff who was born of cesarean section kills him.

I had a very hard time finding a connection between Macbeth and “Happiness”. As I was reading this poem only one line really stood out to me and that was line twenty. Just the words “Hopelessness, Desperateness, and Loneliness” jumped off the page to me. I feel that these three emotions are what Lady Macbeth felt in her final hours before she killed herself. Lady Macbeth is overcome by such guilt that her mental health begins deteriorate. She becomes plagues with fits of sleepwalking. She can be seen violently scrubbing her hands in the middle of the night thinking there is still blood of those they killed there. Out of complete disparity she commits suicide.

As one can see there are some similarities between Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and works like Flannery O’Connor’s, A Good Man is Hard to Find, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “God’s Grandeur,” and Jane Hirschfield’s, “Happiness”. Sometimes you need to look a lot deeper in order to find similarities, but if you use your imagination you will always find something.

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