Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Two Trusts


MacBeths lines spoken to himself when he is considering killing Duncan struck me as particularly odd. This whole idea of double trust seemed an odd expression, so much so that it distracted my reading. What did Macbeth mean, "double trust"? Are there different kinds of trusts? It seems that within the context of the play there are. In context, Duncan places his trust in MacBeth for several reasons; MacBeth is an old friend, as indicated by the start of the play. MacBeth has thus been a loyal servant, a good soldier. We have no reason to think that Duncan thinks anything other than high thoughts about the titular character of the play. Then there is another sort of trust, the trust between host and visitor. Particularly in high society, social grace and protocol are very important. One does not go about murdering ones guests. Duncan there for will have his defenses down.

While this phrase is interesting in its own right, it also illuminates a thread that I perceived running through out the play. The idea of different kinds of trusts seems to point to different kinds of duties and commitments. How are ones duty's as a husband different that ones duties as a lord? How are the two ranked? Is there an over lap. If Shakespeare is suggesting that something is amiss, at its root it seems to come from one stepping outside the realm of ones duty, a usual trope in the Shakespeare play. This seems to suggest that Shakespeare is not an advocate of change, but in fact in favor of the societal status quo. Given what we've learned about Shakespeares biography in class, this view seems to hold. He was writing for the royal audience, after all. However it was very interesting to see such a firm apparition of this role in this text.

3 comments:

Christina Lee said...

The idea about two different types of trusts and their connection with the different forms of duties that accompany these types of trusts is an interesting, but true concept. A person has different duties and different forms of trusts with each individual that they meet, even in the same social class. You can have more trust in one person over the other and thus already you have formed a different type of relationship or commitment with that person. In fact like you questioned in your blog, the difference in duties and trust in a king and husband. There is a huge difference because of the fact that a husband has a different type of relationship and trust than what a lord has with his subjects. As for Shakespeare being an advocate of change; well I do not believe he was asking for any change. Again, Shakespeare is just a writer, he acknowledges this existence. He knows that he is writing for a specific audience, because they give him money, but he knows how to add enough whimsical and endearing aspects to appeal to others. He may touch upon the social issues of their time, such as the treatment of the poor, but I do not think that he tried or wanted to advocate change. He was just bringing the foulness of society of that time on a stage where it can be judged.

Christina_Joseph said...

Both of you made some very valid points about Shakespeare's position on the societal ills which are constantly found in his work. I can't help but think that although he might have not really wanted to enact a radical change in society, like you both mentioned, he was very intrigued with what was occurring in the world around him. He used his artist's lens to comment in his own round about way on what was going on in society. He shows the practices that he disfavors in a negative light,but not too damning so that he does not offend any of his sponsors or those that might be paying to come to his shows. His work is subtle, but not too subtle that no one really understands his views on the situation.

Cyrus Mulready said...

I like how you link this line to the question of Shakespeare's disposition toward change in his society. I tend to agree that when we really dig down into the plays, we find, predominantly, a message of conservatism--the desire to preserve order and rule within the society. But this, too, is often balanced by profound expressions of rebellion (as in Macbeth). Shakespeare is tricky, and it's hard to know which side we should come down on in interpreting his plays. Especially in this drama, which is so much about individual agency, the strands of rebellion are strong. And yet, it's hard to imagine Shakespeare really making a statement of rebellion with the king (and his patron!) in the audience.