Macbeth Corruption Research Paper

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The Joker. Lex Luthor. Moriarty. As far as bad guys go, these are among the worst. They seem to exemplify everything that humans are terrified of: people with no motivation or reason behind their panic-inducing terror. “Some men,” says Alfred to Batman, “just want to watch the world burn” and this sentiment is repeated throughout much of literature (The Dark). One needn’t look far to find evidence of this type of villain, and it seems as if people are obsessed with irredeemable evil. But is this really the nature of evil? Some authors, including the likes of Shakespeare and J.R.R Tolkien, seem to argue otherwise. The nature of evil, as expressed in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, seeks to corrupt otherwise…show more content…
At the start of the play Macbeth, the main character is described to the audience as a “valiant cousin” and a “worthy gentleman” by king Duncan, which suggests that at the outset of the story, he is a relatively good character (Shakespeare I.ii.24). Only slightly later, Macbeth meets the three witches in an interaction that seems to trigger Macbeth’s lust for power, and therefore set the events of the rest of the story in motion. In his interaction with the witches, they tell him of a prophecy. One of the witches states “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be King hereafter”, which frightens and bewilders Macbeth (Shakespeare I.iii.50). This prophecy doesn’t seem to affect Banquo very much, as his words to Macbeth afterwards are words of caution. Despite these words of caution, Macbeth immediately starts to think about being king, and it takes mere minutes before Macbeth turns to thoughts of murder, saying “My thoughts, whose murder is yet fantastical” (Shakespeare I.iii.139). At this point, however, Macbeth is still very reluctant to turn from his moral compass, and refuses to believe that he will have to kill the king in order for this to become true, as evidenced by his saying “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me,/ without my stir.” (Shakespeare I.iii.143) Only a few days later, Macbeth seems to have become obsessed…show more content…
When Boromir is introduced to the reader, he is described as “a valiant man” by Aragorn; a person that holds much say in the proceedings, and is picked as one of only two people to represent the race of men in the fellowship of the ring (Tolkien 276). The fellowship is tasked with one thing: to destroy The One Ring, an object which is known to corrupt anyone with whom it comes into contact. The fact that Boromir is chosen for this mission is significant, because it shows his trustworthiness and agreement that the one ring needs to be destroyed. This is similar to the way Macbeth is described in the beginning of Macbeth: as a valiant man. After Boromir has traveled with the company for many months and the ring has had a chance to corrupt him, one of the members of the fellowship hears him saying, almost as if to himself, “It is folly to throw [the one ring] away.” (Tolkien 369). He later denies ever saying this, but his complete change of conviction is apparent in this line. This is similar to the way corruption shifts Macbeth’s moral compass, showing that both authors believe that corruption leads to a fundamental shift in values. It is only slightly later in the fellowship’s journey that Boromir moves to steal the ring from Frodo, and the effect of the ring on his mind is apparent. “It might have

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