Presentation Title

A Mind Diseased: Examining the Fallibility of the Mind in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Presenter Information

Natassja Barry

Location

IB 1010

Start Date

19-3-2016 10:00 AM

End Date

19-3-2016 10:15 AM

Abstract

Shakespeare’s work, despite being four centuries old, remains a popular area of study, and Macbeth, like many of his works, continues to allow for new and profound interpretations that are still relevant in modern times. This research looks at William Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a complex illustration of the fallibility of the human mind and all the ways in which it can be swayed. The audience of Macbeth is allowed to look on as the mind that sways Macbeth (5.3.9) is swayed itself by numerous sources, both externally and internally born. Cultural and moral constructs, ambiguity, logical fallacies, imagination, intoxication, insomnia, guilt, trauma, and purposeful deception can be seen as at one point or another directly altering Macbeth’s thoughts, feelings and intentions, driving him one by one to his eventual damnation. Notably, not only Macbeth, but every individual character’s mind is at some point confused as “The multiplying villainies of nature/ Do swarm upon him” (1.2.11-2). In this light, the character of “the tyrant” (5.8.27) is not a “rarer monster” (5.8.25), a freak of nature who stands apart from the rest. Just as Macbeth is likely no different than the original Thane of Cawdor, we (the audience) are no different than Macbeth. Macbeth’s mind is not evil in nature, but “a mind diseased” (5.3.40). At its core, Macbeth is really a sophisticated warning about the fallibility of the human mind and all the manners in which it can be swayed.

Department

English and Modern Languages

Faculty Advisor

Connie Brim

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Mar 19th, 10:00 AM Mar 19th, 10:15 AM

A Mind Diseased: Examining the Fallibility of the Mind in Shakespeare’s Macbeth

IB 1010

Shakespeare’s work, despite being four centuries old, remains a popular area of study, and Macbeth, like many of his works, continues to allow for new and profound interpretations that are still relevant in modern times. This research looks at William Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a complex illustration of the fallibility of the human mind and all the ways in which it can be swayed. The audience of Macbeth is allowed to look on as the mind that sways Macbeth (5.3.9) is swayed itself by numerous sources, both externally and internally born. Cultural and moral constructs, ambiguity, logical fallacies, imagination, intoxication, insomnia, guilt, trauma, and purposeful deception can be seen as at one point or another directly altering Macbeth’s thoughts, feelings and intentions, driving him one by one to his eventual damnation. Notably, not only Macbeth, but every individual character’s mind is at some point confused as “The multiplying villainies of nature/ Do swarm upon him” (1.2.11-2). In this light, the character of “the tyrant” (5.8.27) is not a “rarer monster” (5.8.25), a freak of nature who stands apart from the rest. Just as Macbeth is likely no different than the original Thane of Cawdor, we (the audience) are no different than Macbeth. Macbeth’s mind is not evil in nature, but “a mind diseased” (5.3.40). At its core, Macbeth is really a sophisticated warning about the fallibility of the human mind and all the manners in which it can be swayed.