“”The tragedies of both Macbeth and Othello present two worlds ofreality. One world being that as we the audience sees it, in the normalstate of the present.
The other being a world of the mind the reality ofevil and witchcraft created by the contemplation of Macbeth and Othello.The actuality of this world is most questionable and dangerous for thecharacters because of the confusions it brings about. Macbeth and Othellodo become the victims of their own minds. This is supported through thepoetry of the plays. Where what is seen appears to be different from whatis and the numerous references make it difficult to distinguish one thingfrom the other.
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“Fair is foul, and foul is fair”. (1.1.10 Macbeth) “So fouland fair a day I have not seen.
” (1.3.38 Macbeth) The poetry calls ourattention to the similarities of the opposites of good and evil, real andsurreal.
“That look not like the’ inhabitants o’ the’ earth” (1.3.41), we aretold by Banquo of the weird sisters. Banquo is the very opposite of Macbethand represents the real world as we know it plainly. Banquo givesforewarning to Macbeth by suggesting that they are “The instruments ofdarkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betrays In deepestconsequence”.
Macbeth may have gone away from the encounter unharmed hadnot one of the predictions been already fulfilled. So the evil seed hasbeen put into the mind, such is the case for Othello. Brabanio accusesOthello of being a “foul thief”, a practitioner of “foul charms/ an abuserof the world”. (1.2) After having to defend himself to Brabanio and thecourt, Brabanio leaves Othello with a seed for thought, “if thou hast eyesto see: She has deceived her father and may thee.” (1.
3)The soliloquy of Macbeth (1.3) makes it clear the state of his mindthat he has been caught by the “honest trifle”, and is now going forward tothe affair of “deepest consequence”. His speech begins with what seems tobe good but which is really evil. So throughout the lines the mind is facedby a situation that “cannot be ill; cannot be good”.
(1.3) In the confusionof his mind these “fantastical” images lose their identity and he knowsthat his imagination has altered the world of reality and upset the courseof nature. The difficulty of distinguishing between the two opposites andthat the good is being choked and the bad is coming forward are expressedin Macbeths words “smothered in surmise, and nothing is but what is not.
“(1.3.140) Othello in some regard is also aware of his weakness and stateshis frame of mind. “Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul but I do lovethee! And when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.” (3.3.90 Othello)The true suffering comes to Othello and Macbeth when they are tornbetween the two worlds, not fully accepting either one.
They both strugglewith nature and what is seen and unseen, the contrast between light anddarkness, good and evil, black and white. An essential premise of tragedyis that the crimes have consequences, even if the character knows what hehas done or not. Macbeth knows what crime he is to commit before he everdoes. The agitation of his mind and the poetry in the lines indicates therecognition of the deed he contemplates.
If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well / It were done quickly. Ifthe assassination / could trammel up the consequence, and catch / With hissurcease success; that but his blow / Might be the be-all and the end-allhere, / But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, / We’d jump the life tocome. But in these cases / We still have judgment here, that we but teach /Bloody instructions, which, being taught, return / To plaque the’ inventor.(1.7 5-8)Macbeth is doomed and time as well as nature is now his enemy. “Away, andmock the time with fairest show: False face must hide what the false heartdoth know.” (1.
7 81)As for Othello, he is tormented by what he is hearing about his wife andeven though he may know it not to be true he can’t help his thoughts. “Asthou ruminate, and give thy worst thoughts / The worst of words.” (3.3 132)He decides then what he must do. “I am abused, and my relief / Must be toloath her.
.. ‘Tis destiny unshunnable, like death.” “Arise, blackvengeance, from the hollow hell!”(3.3)After Macbeth kills Duncan and after Othello witnesses Cassio’s”smiles, gestures and light behaviors” (4.1), contemplation has becomeobsession. Macbeth has entered into the world of the mind and left the realone behind.
“Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse” (2.1) “Macbethdoes murder sleep” (2.2) Colors and hallucinations followed by darknessform the landscape of Macbeths world. “His silver skin laced with hisgolden blood / Steeped in the colors of their trade” (2.3) “Light thickens”(3.
3) Othello is now obsessed with the killing of his wife. “For she shallnot live. No my heart is turned to stone” (4.1) “I will chop her intomesses!” (4.
1) Othello’s mind has transformed Desdemona into a villain andhe will be the hero. “It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul. / Yet shemust die, else she’ll betray more men. Put out the light, and then put outthe light.” (5.2)Macbeth and Othello are victims of their own minds. Due to thecontemplation which in turn became obsession.
Macbeth entered into theworld of his mind so fully he considers himself but a shadow. “Life’s but awalking shadow, a poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon thestage and then is heard no more.” (5.5) “I’gin to be aweary of the sun, /And wish the’ estate o’ th’ world were now undone.” (5.6) It is right withnature that Macduff beheads Macbeth.
“Th’e usurper’s cursed head. The timeis free.” Othello’s strong conviction cannot free his mind. He is trappedeven as Desdemona explains, “That death’s unnatural that kills for loving.”(5.
2) “A guiltless death I die.” (5.2) After Othello kills his wife andlearns of his mistake, his world is gone and he gives himself up to evil.”But O vain boast! / Who can control his fate? ‘Tis not so now. / Be notafraid, though you do see me weaponed. / Her is my journey’s end, here ismy butt, / And very seamark of my utmost sail. / Do you go back dismayed?’Tis a lost fear.
Man but a rush against Othello’s breast, / And heretires. Where should Othello go? Now, how dost thou look now?…
/ Whip meye devils, / From the possession of this heavenly sight! Blow me about inwinds! roast me in sulfur! / Wash me in steep-down gulfs of liquid fire! /O Desdemona! dead Desdemona; dead. O! O!” (5.2)Othello kills himself. “I kissed thee ere I killed thee. No way but this,Killing myself, to die upon a kiss.” (5.2)The imagination can conceive a world of evil. To enter into the mindand dwell there, was the downfall of both Macbeth and Othello.
The subtlechanges and inability to distinguish black from white, light from dark,love from war are the fruits of too much contemplation, thus become thevictims of one’s own mind.