This week, we had the first lecture of our new unit about Macbeth and the 1950s. This lecture was all about the cold war. I didn’t know anything about the cold war before a few days ago, and I found it all to be quite fascinating. We have, at the same time, also been reading and watching Shakespeare’s Macbeth. These seem at first glance like two completely different topics, but they actually have some similarities.
This artifact shows the similarities between Macbeth’s brain and the power arch of Ally Occupied Germany
One of the most interesting connections that I see between both the story of Macbeth and the history of the Cold War was the obstruction of peace and control when leaders change. This can be seen in both the monologues of Macbeth as he is contemplating the repercussions of killing King Duncan, and in the way that the allied forces dealt with Germany after World War II.
In Macbeth’s soliloquy at the begining of act 1 scene 7, it is made clear his underlying thoughts on his and his wife’s plot. That, if he and Lady Macbeth are to kill King Duncan, who is “in double trust” with them, there is no way of knowing what will happen to the kingdom. In lines 16-25, Macbeth describes this persistent fear. It is especially clear in the line, “The deep damnation of his taking off”.
Parallel to this is the way that Germany was treated and handled post-WWII. Something that I found very interesting was the approaches taken to prevent a new war from forming. The allied forces knew that the approaches that they had taken after World War I ultimately led them to WWII, so they chose a route of appeasement instead of aggression in order to avoid conflict. After the first World War, Germany was able to rise up as a nation and take control. What they did instead of letting Germany remain it’s own independent nation was to split the country up and occupy jointly, temporarily. This wasn’t what I had expected. This allowed the allied forces to stay in control.
This analysis of the effects of something so unpredictable as the actions of an entire nation mirrors the thoughts of Macbeth. Both of these events show parallels of the thought needed to proactively interpret power.