After watching both the stories of Macbeth and Julius Caesar in action, I have decided that Shakespeare’s tragedies are the most twisted; in the sense that the characters-who are of course human, execute the rather revolting murders of other humans. In society, people describe kind acts as humane, but wouldn’t murder be also part of what makes us individuals, humans? It is evident that history can repeat itself; humans have taken away more than gave. People have gave their time to revenge and war than to do simple acts of kindness everyday. Is it not that what society deems as morally wrong or horrifying, really not part of being human? Humans are capable of succeeding in both sides of the spectrum-light and dark. Darkness lingers in every individual’s heart; no matter how small or large, it exists. However, by taking a modern psychologist point of view, humans can determine the motives of others and what we perceive as “psychopathic.”
As we had studied last year, Macbeth succumbed to the idea of glory and power, but carried the murder of King Duncan out in secret. This led Lady Macbeth to plumage into a tortuous state of sleep walking and murmuring out her guilt. She continuously washed her hands of the non-existent blood that she thought was there.
However, in Julius Caesar, Brutus wanted to show the death of Caesar to the world; he thought it was the most noble act in honour of his name. Brutus and his companions bathed their hands and faces in blood and declared it as the prevention of Caesar’s tyranny.
In both stories, the the king/leader of the story are murdered cruelly, however each perpetrator decided to react to it in different ways; Macbeth-keeping it in secret and going insane from keeping it inside for so long, and Brutus-declaring the truth of Caesar’s death, thinking it was the right thing to do.
So the question is, who would be considered more psychopathic?
For this, I searched up some criteria that would lead psychologists to believe someone as psychopathic, and the dictionary definition is: A person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.
- Uncaring-lack of empathy and feeling of disgust; coldheartedness
- Irresponsibility-Blaming things on others
- Shallow emotions-lack of feelings of shame, remorse, guilt, fear, and embarrassment
- Insincere speech-lying, untruthfulness
- Overconfidence-“grandiose sense of self-worth”
- Narrowing of attention-impulsive, problems with passive avoidance and processing emotions
- Selfishness-egocentricity, “parasitic lifestyle”
- Inability to plan for the future-lack of realistic long-term goals
- Violence-“very low tolerance to frustration and a low threshold for discharge of aggression”
According to the PCL (Psychopathy Checklist), most of these symptoms are made up of what psychopaths feel. Could this determine whether Macbeth or Brutus is a psychopath?
On first impression, I thought that Brutus would be considered more of a psychopath, because he didn’t hide the murder as most people would do. In fact, serial killers are able to get away with murder because of the preparations they do before the homicide and do everything they can to erase any trace of evidence of the murder. However, Brutus does the exact opposite– he does not hide the truth of Caesar’s death, but displayed it to the entirety of Rome. Due to his trustworthy nature, it led Brutus to believe that what he did was “noble”. This leads me to the conclusion that, although murder is morally wrong, Brutus never believed Caesar’s death to be unethical. Therefore, Brutus does not fit into much of the symptoms of the psychopath. Besides the insincere speech, indicated where he refused to tell his wife, Portia, about the murder of Julius Caesar, Brutus does not seem to possess the qualities of a psychopath. As Anthony described him, he is a “noble man.”
However, there is a lot of evidence of Macbeth becoming like a psychopath. For example, Macbeth is uncaring; after having been told that Lady Macbeth has died by committing suicide, he is unfazed, and does not even react to her death. In fact, he does not bother to even see her body, and carries on to fight the war with Macduff. Macbeth’s murder of King Duncan demonstrates his selfishness-he wants to be in power and would murder someone to achieve his ambition. Macbeth is also indicative of insincere speech because he lied to everyone to become king, blaming the guards and killing them in an act of fake revenge. In the battle of Dunsinane, where the witches have given the prophecy that, until the forest moves, he would win the war; Macbeth blames his failure on the witches, concluding that they tricked him, which indicates the characteristic of irresponsibility. He is also violent in the ways he wants to succeed in keeping his position as king, as he holds no hesitation to murder Macduff’s family. He displays shallow emotions when he decided to kill Banquo, his close friend, and does not feel any remorse in hiring assassins to get rid of him. In the battle with Macduff, he is overconfident in himself because all men are born from a woman’s womb-another one of the witches’ prophecies-but is killed because of Macduff who was C-sectioned out. In conclusion, Macbeth, in my opinion and applying data, is more psychopathic.
So, is it not that what everyone does, part of what makes us humans? Isn’t what any human does, part of what humans are? Including psychopathy, crime, murder, betrayal, greed, and all the sins that we have committed, is part of the history of human species. But, we are also loving, gentle, brilliant, talented, creative, and all the glory of humanity, is part of the history of human species.