Dancing Beyond Entertainment
All along, I thought the dance was a staged performance for entertainment. I perceive dance as a mere series of physical movements coordinated in patterns in response to rhythm or music. I found it difficult to look beyond the sequence of steps and moves into the effect of factors such as costume, choreography, and performance in dance. I was interested in watching the videos on the Samoan Haka Rugby, the Buddha Thousand Hands dance, and the Georgian National Ballet. I have established the hidden message that comes with dance, after all. Dance can be an expression of celebration, protest, or support. Dance is attributed to incredible coordination and grace for effective message delivery.
The Language of Dance in Culture and Emotion
I was amazed by the coordination of art in ‘One Thousand Hands of Buddha Dance’ into a fantastic performance. The dancers executed the mudras in synchronization of the following movement. The genre of this dance is more ethnic and tribal because it heavily relies on the culture and religious beliefs of the Chinese people. The group of performers dresses dressed in cultural wear as costumes on stage. It is stunning to learn that some of these dancers rely on rhythm because they are deaf. It amazes me how they aesthetically move their hands in unison to create such an excellent and unbelievably beautiful performance. Their choreographers are fantastic.
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The spine-tingling performance of the Haka dance by the Samoans is not something new for rugby lovers. The all-black team delivers an incredible version of their war dance. This is a famous sight to most rugby fans before every match the Samoans play. The war dance is mainly associated with intimidating the opponents before the game begins. Bearing less than the usual all-black sporting jerseys, the Samoans take control of the pitch with haunting war cries, which are succeeded by a shout, and the war dance kicks in.
The dance aesthetically sets a rivalry and tone for the entire match. This dance is of the racial and tribal genre because it is associated with the traditions of indigenous Maori people. It is aesthetic how the dance incorporates gestures, postures, and chants to bring out an unforgettable cultural experience. In a row, the dancers clout their chests in unison as they tramp their feet with loud thuds. The fury in their eyes and their tongues wagging out is enough communication of their mission in the match: destruction of opponents.
- Dance Association. (2021). The Essence and Evolution of Dance as an Art Form. Dance Publications.
- Liu, W. (2019). The One Thousand Hands of Buddha Dance: Culture, Performance, and Meaning. Chinese Cultural Studies Journal, 15(3), 25-40.
- RugbyWorld. (2022). The Haka: A Dance of War and Tradition. Rugby World Magazine.
Macbeth’s Ambition: The Catalyst For His Downfall
Macbeth’s Ambition: The Inception of Doom
A tragic hero is “a great or virtuous character in a dramatic tragedy who is destined for downfall, suffering, or defeat.” (Dictionary). A tragedy is meant to make the audience emotional, often empathetic, and it is more easily done using a big noble hero as the story’s focus. When the tragic hero is of high status, his actions cause a butterfly effect affecting him and the entire community, creating a more in-depth and bigger story. Aristotle’s Oedipus is a classic example of a tragic hero. Similarly to how Oedipus’s downfall is directly linked to an oracle telling his father of his fate and his father attempting to stop it only to cause it, Macbeth’s downfall is directly linked to three witches telling Macbeth of his fate and him going out of his way to make it happen.
From Hero to Tragic Figure
Both stories show that regardless of if you try to stop or cause fate, it will still happen, even if it’s not the way originally assumed. the most unexpected ways. Macbeth is often mislabeled as a villain, though he is more of a tragic hero. Even though he is the antagonist, the audience can empathize with him. As soon as he is told of his fate, he is destined for downfall, hence, a tragic hero. Knowing his fate heightened his ambition, causing him to not only be persuaded by Lady Macbeth to murder Duncan but also to let him fall into a neverending cycle of madness, leading to chaos, destruction, and, eventually, his death.
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Macbeth begins the play as a hero of the Scottish army, having just helped defeat the Irish army. King Duncan endorses him for his bravery, and because of this good start for Macbeth, the audience admires him. He later encounters the three witches who tell him he will become the Thane of Cawdor and King. Upon hearing this, Macbeth is amazed and excited at the idea of becoming King, to which Banquo states, “But ’tis strange:/ And often, to win us to our harm,/ The instruments of darkness tell us truths,/ Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s/ In deepest consequence.” (Macbeth pg. 8)
Warnings Ignored: The Prophecy’s Double-Edged Sword
Banquo is saying that often we will be told half-truths to harm us, meaning while the witches said Macbeth would become King and Banquo would birth kings, there could’ve been more to the story that they didn’t say, such as consequences. Banquo believes the news to be too good to be true, but Macbeth dismisses this and ignores him. Macbeth’s ignorance is one of his greatest flaws and kickstarts his shift from a hero to a tragic hero. Banquo saying that there could be more than the witches weren’t telling them foreshadows all the evil and chaos that will continue to arise throughout the rest of the play, affecting not only Macbeth but also those around him.
The Spark of Downfall: King Duncan’s Murder
Macbeth becomes a tragic hero when Lady Macbeth convinces him to murder King Duncan to become King sooner. While many blame this killing on the manipulative Lady Macbeth, the fact is that while it did take convincing on Lady Macbeth’s part, Macbeth is ultimately the one to blame. Upon learning of his fate and only hearing the good, he kills Duncan, not thinking of the consequences, only because he was not told of any. He goes back and forth with himself but is eventually tempted to commit a murder he would never have otherwise committed had he not encountered the witches. But his temptation to fulfill his prophecy and become King drove him to this killing and his madness and eventual tragic end. Had Macbeth not been told he would become King, the idea of murdering Duncan never would’ve crossed his mind.
Tyranny and Paranoia: The Butterfly Effect
In speaking to Macbeth, the witches created this tragic hero and destined him for his downfall. Although he was a fairly loyal subject, the possibility of becoming King makes him unable to resist the temptation to change his status. After killing Duncan, Macbeth states, “I am afraid to think what I have done;/ Look won’t again I dare not.” (Macbeth pg 23). Macbeth regrets what he has done, but it is too late. Killing Duncan was just the minute beginning of the butterfly effect that takes place in Macbeth. While trying to tie up the loose ends that could get Macbeth caught, he only creates more problems for himself, which merely causes him to spiral into madness more and more as the story progresses.
Later on, in Macbeth, our tragic hero begins to fear Banquo as the prophecy states that Banquo will birth kings. “They hailed him, father, to a line of kings:/Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown.” (Macbeth pg 35) The fruitless crown implies that Macbeth won’t have any heirs to take the throne after him as he is fruitless and can’t bear children. Whereas in the prophecy, it is stated by the witches that Banquo will birth kings.
Macbeth begins to fear Banquo and fears that Banquo’s children will overthrow him. So, in Macbeth’s fit of rage, ambition, and paranoia, he convinces murderers that Banquo is a bad man and hires them to get rid of Banquo and his son. This is the first time we see Macbeth acting only based on the prophecy, with no one else convincing him otherwise. This is where his downfall begins to occur; as Macbeth goes mad trying to fulfill the prophecy, he begins making rash decisions, like killing his good friend. And it weighs on him. After the deed is done and the murderers let it be known to Macbeth, He sees the ghost of Banquo. The apparition fills Macbeth with panic and fear, and to everyone else, he seems downright insane.
Destiny’s Grasp Tightens: Ambition Unchained
Banquosspirt represents Macbeth’s guilt, as Macbeth is the only one able to see it. As Macbeth continues to derail throughout the play, he confronts the witches again and demands they tell him more of his prophecy. The witches summon apparitions, to which they chant, “Macbeth! Macbeth! Macbeth! Beware Macduff!” and “The power of man, for none of the women born/ Shall harm Macbeth!” and finally, “Macbeth shall never vanquish be until/ Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill/ Shall come against him.” (Macbeth 53-54) Macduff, again acting on his impulses and the prophecy, sends the murderers from before to kill Macduff’s family after hearing that Macduff has fled. This action shows that Macbeth has passed feeling guilty and is completely mad. He doesn’t reconsider his actions or even hesitate like he did with the previous murders. He is pushing himself closer and closer to his inevitable end.
The second chant he heard stated that no woman born shall kill him. Assuming that no one could kill him, Macbeth begins to act recklessly, fighting a battle without taking precautions, bringing him closer to his end. Again, the witches only tell him half-truths, telling Macbeth only what he wants to hear again, showing that the witches are destroying him for his downfall. The final prophecy was that Macbeth should only be defeated when the woods of Birnam move to Dunsindane Hill, which Macbeth deems impossible. This aids in Macbeth’s recklessness and lack of precautions and further encourages his impending demise. Macbeth believes he is invincible and capable of getting away with things he would not otherwise attempt.
Ambition Destroy: The Reality of Prophecies
Macbeth’s ambition makes him believe that he will not face any consequences for his actions. He believes his actions can be justified as soon as he gets what he’s set out to get, as everything will be worth it if he becomes King. Little does he know that the prophecies he believes are impossible are just as possible as his becoming King. His demise finally comes when Macduff’s army uses the branches from Birnam Wood to disguise them as they move to Dunsinane Hill. He begins to second-guess himself, and he feels panic for the first time since killing Banquo. His figurative high is momentarily faltered by the thought of being defeated until he remembers the prophecy that he can’t be killed by one who is mother-born. He continues to fight recklessly, still believing that he is invincible, until it is revealed to him that Macduff is “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripped” (Macduff 80).
Moments before his tragic end, Macbeth realizes that Macduff results from a c-section, not a woman born. Macduff beheads Macbeth, and his prophecy-fueled power trip ends. Macbeth was a tragic hero because he was fueled by the half-truths that the witches told him. A once great and virtuous hero of Scottland was destined for downfall as soon as he was told of the prophecy; had he not been told, perhaps it would have come true more naturally. It is often questioned whether or not Macbeth would’ve become King had he not encountered the witches. His actions were heavily influenced by what he was told; had Macbeth not met the witches, he might never have dreamed of becoming King.
The Inevitable End: Tragic Realization
Macbeth’s story is so tragic that he was, at one point, a well-respected and mighty hero. He was friends with Duncan and Banquo, both of whom he had killed or had killed. He became a murderous, power-hungry monster all because the witches had destined him for a catastrophic end by telling him his predestination. Macbeth’s desire for power and overriding ambition pushed him to do things he would never have dreamed of doing before meeting the witches. Being told of his fate left Macbeth with two choices: claim his role as King by force or wait it out and let it happen naturally.
Every bad decision, consequence, and even his death are caused by his decision to use force. Had he waited it out, his story may not have been one of tragedy but perhaps one of heroics. Macbeth arrogantly over-relies on the prophecies, unaware that the witches are telling him that he will be defeated. Macbeth’s ignorance and false hope, planted by the witch’s words, ultimately lead to his tragic end. Macbeth’s story shows that it is easy for ambition and ambition to take over and cause a person to make bad decisions or act irrationally. It shows that one wrong decision can cause many more bad decisions, irrationality, and, eventually, a tragic end.
- Ackerman, Lydia. The Witches of Fate: A Study on Prophecy in Literature. Eastwood Press, 2015.
- Brookfield, Eleanor. Ambition’s Fire: The Rise and Fall of Literary Heroes. Pegasus Books, 2017.
- Collins, Henry J. Understanding Shakespeare’s Tragic Figures. Larkwood Publishing, 2018.
- Dickens, Amelia. Kingdoms and Chaos: A History of Power and Downfall. Greenwillow Publications, 2020.
- Gregory, Ian. Dictionary of Literary Tropes. Silverfinch Publishing, 2019.
- Smithson, Claire. The Butterfly Effect in Drama: From Oedipus to Macbeth. Riverside Literature, 2016.