Thursday, September 10, 2009

Corruption From Power: Rethinking Macbeth

Posted by Rebellious Indians

Quote from Macbeth; 3.4
"Blood will have blood"

Macbeth is perhaps one of the most well known fictional characters for abuse of power and being a corrupt leader. He started out as a loyal thane but was eventually murdered by those he had originally held dearly. Although he became extremely powerful man, he was not virtuous one. To fulfil his ambitions he had innocent people murdered, including some of his own friends in paranoia of losing his power. Some examples of this would be when he had Macduff's family killed when Macduff fled, and when he had his own best friend Banquo, killed.....

Joseph Stalin

"What was wrought in this transformation? How had a provincial, comparatively insignificant member of a small, unsuccessful group of journalists and persecuted political conspirators- which the Bolsheviks mostly were before the first world war become one of the mot powerful and merciless dictators in history, a dictator who's name and image would saturate every field of Soviet endeavor?"

Joseph Stalin was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee. He was considered both a monster as well as a revolutionary for today's Russia. After the previous leader, Lenin's death in 1924 he eventually became the new leader of the U.S.S.R.

When Stalin came into power, he immediately launched a command economy, which replaced the New Economic Policy of the 1920's with his Five Year Plans, which included 13 plans to help modernize the Soviet Union and its economy. It created rapid industrialization and economic collectivization. This however, caused a famine causing many people to die from starvation. Eventually, he launched the Great Purge, which was the execution of millions of Soviet people which he saw as a threat.

Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in 1939 and they invaded many countries. After Hitler broke their pact, he helped take Germany out although he ended up causing the Cold War.

Stalin died at the age of 74 in 1953. Officially, the cause of his death was reported as cerebral hemorrhage but it has been suggested that he was assassinated. After Stalin's death, Nikita Khrushchev took his place and initiated the period known as de-Stalinization.

Connections To Macbeth

-Stalin means "man of steel" and Macbeth means "son of life", and although the names may differ, there are similar personality traits such as being paranoid, obsessive etc
-Started the purges/terror, 20 million arrested, 7 million shot and millions more died or languished in camps. It's very similar to Macbeth as he eliminated threats and those who opposed him.
-In the Nazi-Soviet Non-aggressive pact there was a secret protocol allowing Stalin to retake the Polish, Ukrainian, and the Baltic Territories that were lost in 1918. This showed the desire for unquenchable power, similar to Macbeth not allowing things to follow their natural course, but instead taking the throne through power.

Julius Caesar

Throughout history, there have been several leaders that stand out for their malicious dictatorships and ruthless methods. Julius Caesar is without a doubt one of the most corrupt leaders that has existed throughout time. He had an unquenchable lust for power and would stop at nothing to achieve more.

Little is known about Caesars childhood, but he was raised under the belief he was a direct descendant from the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, who was supposedly the son of the goddess Venus. He was also from a patrician family, which gave him the belief it was his right to politics and in turn, the Roman Empire.

During his political career, Caesar was governor of Cisalpine Gaul and two other Roman provinces for a period of nine years. In 38 BC he wanted to run for the highest spot in office that the Roman Republic offered. He served as Roman Consul, and when he did he trampled on the rights and powers of the Roman state in order to have new laws passed. He eventually made an alliance with two of the most powerful men at the time, Pompey and Crassus to strengthen his position. They became known as "the triumvirate" (ruling group of 3). Caesar did not care when the rest of the senate stopped supporting him, as with his alliance he could run the government as he pleased while they secretly gained power.

"Together they controlled the public business, granting to themselves or obtaining from one another what they desired..." -Historian Dio Cassius

Using his power, Caesar became governor of 3 provinces, giving him a massive army which he used to conquer all of Gaul (region that included much of present day Belgium and France). As he lead his army, they forced the surrender of as many of 800 cities and 300 Gallic tribes. His political enemies in Rome were extremely jealous of his success but also fearful of his power. The senate then demanded that Caesar give up his army before he could run in the election again. Instead, he chose to invade Roman Italy at the head of his troops, committing an act of treason and starting a civil war. Caesar single handedly led Rome into a civil war full of bloodshed that would affect Rome forever.

"everyone complains ... people all agree ... but no one knows what to do. If we resist there will probably be bloodshed." -Cicero

Connections to Macbeth:

-Broke off engagement when he was a teen to marry a girl, (Cornelia) to improve his standing in Rome and also became the high priest of the Roman religion as he knew that it would greatly advance his political career, similar to Macbeth doing things to get closer to being king.
-Achieved a high level of success but desired even more
-Him and alliances secretly gained power which relates to Macbeth in the way that Macbeth secretly was having people killed off that were seen as a threat.
-He married 18 year old Calprunia, the daughter of the wealthy nobleman Calpurnius Piso. He also arranged for her father to be elected as consul the next year. (Similar to Macbeth strengthening alliance with witches for power)
-He accepted opportunities that would help him gain more glory
-Motivated by selfishness
-Both committed treason, Macbeth by murdering Duncan, Caesar by invading Roman Italy

Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler was a nationalistic leader that is considered by some to be one of the most corrupt leaders in history. Hitler was born in Austria in 1889, and it's said that he showed corrupt qualities from a young age. In his youth, he enjoyed practicing his speeches and took an interest to politics as His passion was art, but after he was rejected from Vienna's Fine Art School he dove into politics and even joined Germany's army.

Eventually, Hitler became the leader of the NAZI (National Socialist German Workers) Party. At this time, he immediately began the takeover which would result in war and a genocide. He was a leader that had bad intentions from the beginning, and he demonstrated this is his book Mein Kampf, which discussed his anti-Semitic ideas. People who were seen as a threat, or did not fit his ideals were to be killed off. He used a range of social organizations and professional societies which got thousands of German people involved in NAZI thinking. There were groups such as Hitler Youth for Boys, and the League of German Maidens for girls. At this point, Germany was considered a Fascist state, meaning that in their view, race and genetics determined a person's worth. Fascism thrives on conquest and war, causing people to believe they had a right to invade weaker countries, destroy governments and enslave innocent people.

"To say that Hitler was ambitious scarcely describes [his] ... lust for power and ... craving to dominate." -Alan Bullock

Hitler proceeded to go along with his "Final Solution" which included the genocide of the Jewish people among other people which were not seen as pure (homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses etc). One of his favourite themes was that Germany required more living space. As the Holocaust went on, Hitler's judgement became increasingly erratic and Germany's military and economic position quickly deteriorated. The Soviet Union gained power as it had the biggest army and had powerful alliances which overtook Hitler and the German army. Hitler committed suicide on April 30th, 1945 when the Soviet army was close. He shot himself in the mouth while biting into a cyanide capsule. His body, as well has his mistress (Eva Braun) were put into a bomb crater and covered in gasoline and set afire.

Connections to Macbeth:

-Both were extremely ambitious for gaining power
-Shared the enjoyment for killing people and hatred of people
-Both started out low without plans of becoming so powerful and overruling the government. Macbeth was happy being a thane and serving the king, where Hitler was passionate about becoming an artist
-Both served for their country before becoming the ruler. (Hitler joined Germany's army, Macbeth along with Banquo served the Scottish army.)
-Both were too stubborn and thought too much of themselves to just surrender, instead they would rather commit suicide or be killed.

"I'm not going to surrender and have to kiss the ground in front of Malcolm, or be taunted by the common people." -Macbeth Act 5

Awasthi Namit


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