“Actions bring Consequences” The concept of greed and its consequences is heavily evident in modern-day society, and is one which is characterised as a “Deadly Sin”. The excessive desire to obtain power, money, love or any other object is defined as greed. Greed is a feeling that is intrinsic in human society and one which brings about consequences. Greed is often a motivation for people to do things that they would normally be unlikely to even attempt, yet greed can motivate people to take extreme measures in order to obtain the object of their desire.
This conclusion is evident in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a tragedy in which the protagonist is consumed by greed. The events throughout the course of the play turn Macbeth from a “worthy Gentleman” I. ii. 24 to a man who believes he has “lived long enough: my way of life/Is fallen into the sere” V. iii. 22-23. The concept of greed is also explored throughout Wall Street 1987 by Oliver Stone, a text in which the ideology of “Greed is Good” is explored and evaluated in depth through the corporate arena of the 1980’s.Order now
Greed is a concept which can be represented through various means, including the use of darkness to symbolize greed, and the use of soliloquies to demonstrate how greed can destroy a person. Greed, ultimately, has consequences and far reaching impacts on society and the individuals involved. The instigation of greed and the ultimate cause of Macbeth’s downfall throughout Shakespeare’s Macbeth is commonly accepted to be Macbeth’s meetings with the Three Witches.
Macbeth, the protagonist, along with Banquo, another character, meet with Three Witches, whom he describes as “imperfect speakers” I. iii. 71. This meeting is the basis of the entire play, as Macbeth is greeted as “thane of Glamisâ€¦thane of Cawdorâ€¦King Hereafter” I. iii. 49-51. These prophecies, described by Macbeth as a “prophetic greeting” I. iii. 79, incite Macbeth and his wife to commit multiple murders. Macbeth ponders these words, and truly believes that the witches have supernatural powers “Two truths are told/As happy prologues to the swelling act/Of the imperial theme” I. ii. 130-132.
Macbeth is in inner turmoil about these prophecies, as he is unsure whether to act or not in order to become King “If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me/Without my stir” I. iii. 147-148. However, only the audience are aware of this inner turmoil, as Macbeth voices his fears in an ‘aside’. Right from the beginning of the play, it is evident that the Witches and their prophecies are associated with evil and the unnatural. In Scene 1 of Act 1, the witches meet in a storm, with thunder and lightning.
The use of the storm is symbolic for the unnatural, as well as foreshadowing of the evil and murky events to come. The witches are continuously associated with the supernatural throughout their appearances in the play, most likely due to the fact that the supernatural featured heavily in Elizabethan society, the context in which the play was written. Ultimately, the actions taken as a result of greed bring about detrimental consequences. Although Macbeth’s meeting with the witches essentially turns Macbeth’s ambition into greed, he is unwilling to commit the act which he believes would ‘fulfil’ his greed.
Macbeth’s inner turmoil is evident in Act I, Scene vii, where Macbeth, in a soliloquy, states “If it were done when ’tis doneâ€¦this blow might be the be-all and end all” ll 1-5, implying that he is willing to commit the murder of Duncan, if ti would have no negative consequences. However, later in this soliloquy, Macbeth states that “as his host/ Who should against his murderer shut the door/ Not bear the knife myself. ” ll 14-16. This statement is symbolic of Macbeth’s confusion about whether he should commit regicide or not.
He believes that he should kill Macbeth if he would gain from it, yet he still believes in honour and pride, as is evident from his actions in a previous battle “For brave Macbethâ€”well he deserves that nameâ€”/Disdaining fortune, with his brandished steel/Which smoked with bloody execution/ Like valour”s minion carved out his passage” I. ii. 16-19. Macbeth’s role reversal and thoughts about the murder of Duncan are demonstrated at the start of the play, when the “Weird Sisters” foreshadow the events of the play, by stating that “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” I. i. Macbeth also periodically displays a sense of ambition and greed, with no qualms. In Scene 4 of Act 1, Malcolm is revealed as the Prince of Cumberland, and the heir to the throne. Macbeth realises that “The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step/On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,/For in my way it lies” lines 49-51. In this case, it is evident that Macbeth truly believes in becoming King, through whatever means possible. In this scene, it is also evident that the use of darkness symbolises greed and evil acts, as Macbeth asks for “Stars, hide your fire/Let not light see my black and deep desires” lines 51-52.
This use of darkness implies that evil and greedy acts and thoughts should not be revealed, and should be kept secret. The use of darkness also foreshadows the idea that an evil act is to occur, with disastrous consequences. Darkness is also used to hide the death of Duncan, and to hide Macbeth’s inner thoughts Stars, hide your fire/Let not light see my black and deep desires” I. iv. 51-52 and “Come, seeling nightâ€¦Whiles Night’s black agents to their preys do rouse” III. ii. 46 and 53.
As well as this imagery, Shakespeare utilises nature, with storms to symbolise the Witches’ evil, and the upheaval of the natural hierarchy, in which Macbeth kills Duncan in darkness and claims the throne “A falcon towering in her pride of place/Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed” II. iv. 11-12 Similarly, in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, the protagonists, Bud Fox and Gordon Gekko believe that actions taken as a result of greed are good, as long as money is made “The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don”t want to do”.
In the iconic ‘Teldar Paper’ Speech, Gordon Gekko states that “The point isâ€¦that greedâ€¦is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind”. It is evident that Gekko believes that actions taken as a result of greed are beneficial, as he states that “In the last seven deals that I”ve been involved with, there were 2. 5 million stockholders who have made a pretax profit of 12 billion dollars”, implying that his greed has led to stockholders making money.
This is similar to Lady Macbeth’s and Macbeth’s belief that their greed, and the actions taken as a result will be “the be-all and end all”, ultimately benefiting them. Unfortunately, these actions have consequences on both the individual and society that are apparent during the course of the play. Actions taken as a result of greed bring about consequences for the individual, as seen in Act 2, Scene 2 of Macbeth. Shakespeare keeps the murder of Duncan off stage, and all the audience is able to see is Macbeth enter the room, and emerge a changed man.
Macbeth’s immediate reactions after murdering Duncan are regretful, as greed has overwhelmed him and controlled his actions “I am afraid to think what I have done” “Wake Duncan with thy knocking! I would thou couldst” lines 51 and 74. Immediately after Macbeth commits the murder, the first consequences are evident. Macbeth becomes overwhelmed with guilt, and envisages a voice saying “Macbeth does murder sleepâ€¦Glamis hath murdered sleep and therefore Cawdor shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more” II. ii. 5, 41-43. Ironically, Lady Macbeth states that “These deeds must not be thought/After these ways; so, it will make us mad” II. ii. 34-35, because eventually both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth ‘go mad’ after being overwhelmed by their guilt. The greed of Macbeth and his wife, Lady Macbeth, have serious consequences on them both, and causes Macbeth’s downfall. The relationship between the pair declines due to their insecurity and paranoia, as Macbeth changes from viewing Lady Macbeth as his “dearest partner in greatness” I. . 9-10 to an unkind and uncaring attitude when she dies “She should have died hereafter/There would have been time for such a word” V. v. 17-18. This decline in their relationship is a consequence of their actions and their greed. Another consequence on Macbeth caused by his actions is his despair and lack of care for life. HE states, after he has committed multiple murders and regicide, and is facing defeat at the hands of Macduff and Malcolm, “I have lived long enough.
My way of life/Is fall”n into the sere, the yellow leaf,/And that which should accompany old age,/As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have, but, in their stead,/Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honor, breath/Which the poor heart would fain deny and dare not. ” V. iii. 22-28. Essentially, Macbeth has realised that his deeds have been to his detriment, as he has lost his honour, friends and love. He has lost all that he has gained throughout his life, and he doesn’t have what should “accompany old age”. Macbeth’s downfall is a consequence of his actions earlier in the play.
In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth also suffers severe consequences as a result of her overwhelming guilt. Her original bravado and cold mentality “Fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full/Of direst cruelty” and “That which hath made them drunk hath made me bold” , gives way to insanity and paranoia. Lady Macbeth starts to see visions, as Macbeth has, visualising blood on her hands, which “a little water” cannot wash off “Out, damned spotâ€¦Yet who would have though the old man to/Have so much blood in him? ” Vi. 34, 38-39.
Lady Macbeth is “Troubled with thick coming fancies,/That keep her from her rest” V. iii. 38-39, and she eventually and apparently commits suicide: “The Queen, my Lord, is dead” V. v. 16. The greed of Lady Macbeth has had consequences, on herself as an individual, as it has driven her to madness and suicide. Similarly, in Wall Street, Bud Fox is arrested, on suspicion of insider trading, as a result of his greed and the actions that came about from his greed “You are under arrest, Mr Fox, for conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and for violation of the Insider trading actâ€¦.
However, as with Macbeth, Bud does regain some of his ‘lost honour’ by providing evidence against Gekko, as he believes it’s the right thing to do. It is evident through both Macbeth and Wall Street that actions have consequences on the individual. As well as individual consequences, greed also affects society at large. In Macbeth, Macbeth’s actions divide Scotland and cause Malcolm and Macduff to raise an army against their own people. Essentially, Macbeth causes a civil war. Malcolm states that “Old Siward, with ten thousand warlike men,â€¦was setting forth” IV. ii. 134-135, implying that he will stand with Siward against Macbeth, in a battle. Malcolm also states “Bleed, bleed, poor country! ” IV. ii. 32, lamenting that Scotland is suffering from terrible wounds because of Macbeth’s tyrannical rule. The society at large is also affected by greed and greedy actions in Wall Street, as the stockholders who invest in Gekko’s company lose their money due to the falling share price of ‘Bluetsar Airlines’. This fact isn’t implicitly stated in the text, however it is alluded to in the text.
Society is affected by the actions of individuals, like a ripple effect, in which the actions of one slowly reach tendrils out to all parts of society. It can be seen that in MacbethÂ¸ Macbeth divides Scotland and rules tyrannically, and in Wall Street, Gekko and Fox lose millions for their stockholders, a far contrast to the ’12 billion dollars’ that Gekko previously made. It is evident that society is affected by greed, whether it be the collective greed of society, or individual greed.
Actions taken as a result of greed are evident in both Macbeth and Wall Street and their far-reaching consequences are also explored in-depth. Macbeth manages to cause his own downfall through greed, and similarly, Bud Fox unwittingly also engineers his own downfall by submitting to the all-consuming power of greed. The concept of greed and its consequences are accurately represented through a variety of techniques in both texts, and the concept can be explained in one line: Isaac Newton’s law, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.