Mocking Time With Fairest Show: Tragic Macbeth Makes Time His Foe

Time plays a crucial role in Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. Like all Shakespearian tragedies, the main character is necessarily at odds with time. By its very nature, a tragedy must end with the death of the hero. The hero, therefore, must bide his time in such a way as to prevent his own tragic demise. While some characters, like Hamlet, seem absorbed with the past and frozen by inaction, others, like Macbeth, feel the need to act quickly, manipulating the passage of time. Macbeth, like all Shakespearian tragic heroes, is presented with a problem which he will prove incapable of successfully dealing with. While Hamlet, it seems, would lament and Othello demand proof, Macbeth resolves to take immediate murderous action to resolve his problem.

Like Hamlet, Macbeth's eventual resolve to kill seems inextricably tied to his sense of the nature of time. At the opening of the play it seems as though Macbeth has great faith in time. As a successful war hero, time has delivered Macbeth many favorable fates. Time is also faithful in its passing. Day and night come regularly, delivering the fate of all. Macbeth, until King Duncan's life-changing proclamation, has also been faithful. He has fulfilled his duties to the fullest...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 972 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7757 literature essays, 2170 sample college application essays, 323 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in