We have enjoyed depictions of morality and immorality for 2,500 years. Let’s face it, immorality excites us the most and the idea of women enticing virtuous men down the path of iniquity is a powerful story line. Eve with her apple and Lady Macbeth with her encouragements have been templates for the roles of women who destroy prominent men whose strength of character is compromised by a vulnerability to the feminine charms of greedy women.
Lady Macbeth is one of the most powerful; her desire to become Queen of Scotland or for her husband to become King overwhelms and consumes the Shakespearean couple, and destroys them. Of course, witches have predicted the kingship for Macbeth, but Lady Macbeth is not content with the slow natural process of ascension. She is ambitious and wants it now; however, she is worried about the complacency of her husband and what better way to egg him on, than by suggesting his nature is too soft and over-burdened with the milk of human kindness.
And shalt be,
What thou art promis’d: yet do I fear thy nature;
It is too full of the milk of human kindness,
To catch the nearest way. .
Macbeth’s struggle with temptation begins as he rides home after a victorious battle. He is addressed as “Thane (Scottish king) of Glamis” and “Thane of Cawdor” and this puzzles him, since he is already the Thane of Glamis, but he is not the Thane of Cawdor. However, Macbeth is seduced or bewtched by a salutation of witches, “All hail, Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter!” Interpreting these word as prophesy, instead of temptation, his sense of personal destiny is reenforced when the title of Thane of Cawdor is bestowed on him for heroism in battle by King Duncan. When Macbeth reveals the events to Lady Macbeth, she decides they cannot wait for fate to take its course and she plans the murder of King Duncan during his visit to the Macbeth castle.
Our modern day Macbeths are the former governor and self-proclaimed First Lady of Oregon: Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and Cylvia Hayes, the longtime girlfriend (and recently, fiancée) of Gov. John Kitzhaber. She was only the self-proclaimed First Lady because many people of the state objected to the shack-upped appearance of the relationship and the fact that Cylvia Hays was far from being a lady, a fact that became painfully obvious over time. Cylvia relied on personal exhortations of Shakespeare’s witches and Orwell’s Thought Police, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair”; once this premise is accepted, good is evil and evil is good.
Although, we must exercise artistic license to see how the governor was coerced, it is not difficult to see Cylvia resorting to accusations of undeveloped manhood to encourage the governor to participate in corruption:
Would have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life
And live a coward in thine own esteem
Letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would not’
Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage?
In our Shakespearean interpretation of the modern tragedy, John Kitzhaber struggles with morality, temptation, and the love of a younger woman of dubious virtue and morality. Kitzhaber surrenders his honor and dignity to accept the ongoing greed of his fiancee, who probably has her heart set on the White House. Oh, but the more prominent a person becomes, the harder it is to hide an indelicate past. Indiscretions, like like marrying an African teenager for money so that the kid could pursue an academic career in mathematics, a failed pot growing enterprise, and a conflict of interest arising from advising the government on environmental issues while being a paid representative of environmental companies. With a desk in the governor’s office and half of his bed, it is easy to imagine the possibility of undue influence arising occasionally, especially between a 67 year-old man and a woman 20 years younger. The witches were at work whispering “fair is foul: foul is fair”, “good is evil: evil is good”, “woman becomes powerful: man becomes god”.
Conscience is eroded away, both Macbeth and Kirzhaber would have struggled with morality on their own, but with the damning influence of women who used their husbands’ love and libido to destroy them, they were destined for ruin. Were the women short-sighted or did they purposely destroy the men? They had everything, but perhaps in the madness of ambition, they secretly sought to destroy themselves and their husbands as well.
In truth, the witches’ sisterhood whispers in everyone’s ears: If fair is foul, man is animal and never shall hear the voice of conscience or suffer shame of guilt. If fair is foul, woman is man and can do bloodier deeds than soldiers, even smash the brains of nursing infant “while smiling in my face”.
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood,
Stop up th’access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry ‘Hold, hold!’
fortune is a woman
Naught’s had, all’s spent
Where our desire is got without consent
Love, passion, and self-respect are lost when conscience is compromised and crimes against man and God are committed.
Macbeth can’t sleep, Lady Macbeth sleepwalks and washes her hands continuously:
Out, damned spot, out I say!
The women are ruthless and savage, but all humans bleed, they all feel guilt and remorse; although, the Macbeths felt their guilt and remorse before they were caught, the governor and his paramour only acknowledged grief when documents were being subpoenaed. Their story is of belated feelings of guilt and remorse, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Epilogue: A woman can compliment a man and help to build his legacy or destroy him through her own greed and evil. This is the way I would write of this tragedy: All men have a weakness of character, but they can be supported and complimented by a woman and reach heights assumed to be unobtainable, but when those women seek a path to glory by using and destroying a man, they ultimately destroy themselves like a virus that eventually consumes and kills its host.
A professional horseman for over 50 years, Skook continues to work with horses. Skook has finished an historical novel, Fifty Thousand Years, that traces a mitochondrial line of DNA from 50,000 years ago to the present. The story follows a line of courageous women, from the Ice Ages to the present, as they meet the challenges of survival with grit and creativity. These are not women who whimper of being victims, they meet the challenges of survival as women who use their abilities without excuses or remorse, these women are winners, they are our ancestors.
Fifty Thousand Years is available in paperback and e-book, it is getting great reviews. You can purchase a copy here; Visit me on Facebook.
That would be “MacBeth” not “McBeth” please. Mac is Scottish, Mc is Irish.
I stand corrected on the ac versus a, but The Bard didn’t capitalize the B. I will make the corrections.
@Doug: There, it is all corrected; although, I had inadvertently used both forms in the text. Muscle memory from university studies I suppose.
Now, I must ask the famous question posed to Mrs Lincoln, “Other than the unfortunate incident, did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?”
So now with the He no longer at the helm, shall the she become the Mrs. He?
@Marine72: I am wondering the same thing. Life will not be so exciting without the thousands in corruption coming in every month and it’s a little late in life to restart a medical career, especially after Oregon’s disaster with Obama Care. However, there are a few part-time jobs available, but illegal aliens have priority. Yea, life can be tough when an elite has to live like a commoner, or as Sergeant Stryker said, in the movie Iwo Jima, “Life’s tough, but it’s a lot tougher if you are stupid.” Yes, the chippie may be looking for a fence to jump, but she may be running out of options as well. She should watch the Sands of Iwo Jima and feel sorry for herself. LOL