At 4/14/08 08:15 PM, Rammer wrote:
do you still have the essay? you should upload it somewhere if it's digital or scan it and go to step 1 if not. it sounds funny (:
Here it is, copy and pasted from the better looking text file. We had to quote both macbeth and the movie scotland p.a. (which was based off of macbeth)
World Literature II - G Period
5 April, 2008
Macbeth as a Metaphor for Newtonian Physics
William Shakespeare's classic play, Macbeth, can be viewed as a metaphor for Newtonian physics, or more specifically, Newton's three laws of motion. The first law of motion is that an object at rest stays at rest until an unbalanced force acts upon it. In the case of Macbeth, the equilibrium of the lives of the characters is what could be considered the "object at rest". The second law of motion is that an object with an unbalanced force acting upon it will accelerate at a constant rate. In Macbeth, an "accelerating object" is whenever a character's personality, emotional state, or life is changing. The third law of motion is that every action has an equal but opposite reaction, where in the case of Macbeth, an action could be compared to the way a character interacts with another character.
Newton's first law of motion is fairly easy to relate to Macbeth. It states that an object at rest or in constant motion will stay at rest or in constant motion until an unbalanced force acts upon it. In the beginning of Macbeth, the welfare of the kingdom and Macbeth's life were balanced and consistent. Nothing major was changing for the kingdom as a whole, until the unbalanced force of Macbeth killing Duncan was introduced into the plot. At this point, the plot started moving forward at a much faster pace, and the downfall of Macbeth was beginning to take place. This outside action sets the play in motion, and without any other outside forces acting on it the play remains in motion until the very end. After murdering Duncan, Macbeth hears a voice mutter "Macbeth shall sleep no more." (Macbeth 2.2.56). This quote shows that this one action will not allow Macbeth to ever rest again, because murdering Duncan has set Macbeth's previously restful life in motion. An object at rest will only stay at rest if nothing acts upon it.
The second law of motion states that a force acting upon an object will cause acceleration. In Macbeth and Scotland P.A., Billy Morrissette's movie which is based on the play but in a modern time, this is proven because every new action that the Macbeths do compile onto each other, creating more problems and accelerating the rate of their demise. In the movie, Mac only had a little trouble trying to keep himself from saying anything that would reveal the fact that he killed Duncan. However, the more he did wrong, such as killing Banquo and continually lying to Macduff, caused him and his wife to spiral into a state of near insanity. The forces of evil which led Mac to commit more crimes caused the rate of his demise to accelerate to the point where it could not be stopped. Mac seeing his friend ask "Why did you kill me?" is a perfect example of his mental demise. If Mac had never killed Banquo, then his mental state would not have ever reached the point where he was hallucinating his ghost, which proves that those acts caused an accelerated downfall of the Macbeths mental states, in line with Newton's second law of motion.
"Every action has an equal but opposite reaction" is the simple form of Newton's third law. This is very apparent in Macbeth, because the entire play is based on a series of cause and effect relationships. The most important one is the whole plot of the play. If one were to reduce the play to one sentence, it would be "Macbeth kills Duncan, and then Macduff kills Macbeth." This illustrates the action, Macbeth killing Duncan, and the equal but opposite reaction, Macduff killing Macbeth. As Macduff states at the end of the play, "Behold where stands [t]h' usurper's cursèd head. The time is free." (Macbeth 5.8.65) The usurper of the throne, Macbeth, has been usurped. This reaction is equal, because it is the same action of usurping through murder as Macbeth usurping Duncan's throne by murdering him, but opposite because this time Macbeth is the victim of the usurping, rather than the usurper.
These examples show how Macbeth can be viewed as a metaphor for Newtonian physics by comparing the forces which control motion in physics to the events which control the plot in Macbeth. The play stays in equilibrium until an event occurs, the events cause an acceleration of plot intensity and number of problems, and no character was able to do something without an equal and opposite consequence. Newton's laws are used to describe the motion of a physical object, however they also do a good job of describing the plot of this classic play.