Knight's Imagination In Macbeth

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Imagination can be an incredible tool for all people, but if one lets his or her imagination override their conscious thoughts it can be problematic. In A.C. Bradley’s A Shakespearean Tragedy, an analysis of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Bradley notes Macbeth has a vivid imagination, one of a poet. As the play progresses it becomes evident that Macbeth lets his imagination and ambition overpower his reason and conscious thoughts, leading to supernatural thoughts and irrational behavior. There are two leading justifications for this progression of Macbeth’s. In A Shakespearean Tragedy, Bradley argues this is a result of Macbeth’s moral decay, whereas, in The Wheel of Fire, G. Wilson Knight contends fear prompts Macbeth’s behavior. Throughout…show more content…
In “The Wheel of Fire,” Knight says: “Macbeth, like the whole universe of the play, is paralysed, mesmerized…it is fear, a nameless fear which yet fixes itself a horrid image” (Knight 153). Knight believes that fear is the primary driver of Macbeth’s actions and is what eventually leaves him liable to supernatural thoughts and irrational actions. For example, Knight believes fear of losing or not gaining the throne causes Macbeth to murder King Duncan and Banquo. Then Knight believes that fear of reprisal for his sinful actions causes Macbeth to envision Banquo’s ghost at the banquet, or that fear of being overthrown by Malcolm and Macduff causes him to see the three witches again and desperately try to interpret their prophecy literally. Bradley, on the other hand, believes that ambition is the primary cause of Macbeth’s immoral actions. When describing Macbeth, Bradley commentates: “What appalls him is always the image of his own guilt heart or bloody dead” (Bradley 134). Bradley then believes since Macbeth was originally a virtuous character, disappointment in his moral decay causes him to act irrationally and believe in supernatural events, such as seeing Banquo at the banquet. While both of these interpretations are interesting, evidence in the play clearly supports Bradley’s

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