The Cautionary Tale of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

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William Shakespeare’s Macbeth contains a lot of life lessons. Number one: Don’t listen to stranger bearded women when wandering through a fog. Number two: Never let anyone bully you into doing something you don’t want to, even if it’s your wife. And Number 3? If you want to become king, the kill-everything-in-your-path strategy, while seemingly effective, is bound to backfire.

Macbeth is indeed a cautionary tale of greed, power and ambition. At the play’s core, it is about humanity’s tendency for evil and ruthlessness, particularly when fueled by the desire for ascension. Macbeth, a Scottish nobleman fresh from a ruthlessly victorious battle, stumbles upon a pack of prophesizing witches who imply that kinghood is in his future, effectively messing with his head and ego. Just a few little words set Macbeth in motion to achieve his fate of being king, instead of letting things unfold naturally.

Looking at Macbeth summary, Macbeth stands somewhat as a tragic hero and a villain in the play, as he is a man whose ambitious ego and thirst for power sets him on a path of destruction that inevitably arrives at a grisly destination with his head on a spike. Violent is as violent does for Macbeth.

What we learn from Macbeth, aside from the whole downside in embarking on a murderous rampage, is that our desires and our emotions control us much more than we think. It also highlights how easily swayed humanity can be at times, when all it takes is some eerie women to plant a seed of power in our impressionable egos. At its basic level, Macbeth is about the power and drive of man, and how that power and drive can effortlessly steer us off course. Take, for example, a selection from Macbeth quotes featuring the hallucinations of Macbeth that finally convinces him to kill the king. A floating mirage of a dagger, “a dagger of the mind” he calls it, seals the deal for Macbeth, reading it as something to “marshal’st” him on his way to power. Note the level of agency he ascribes to this image, which could either be a manifestation of the witches or of his “heat-oppressed” brain. The image is both a sign and a usher of sorts for Macbeth, suggesting his own lack of agency and self-determination that allows him to be easily swayed. A helpful comparison in understanding Macbeth’s craziness can found in another famous Shakespearean play where a tragic hero is conflicted with inaction, uncertainty and of course, impressionability when it comes to the supernatural. In the Hamlet summary, Hamlet is directed on a path to avenging his late father by his father’s ghost. He wavers and flip-flops on what to do-much like Macbeth-until finally committing the first murder (Poor Polonius!) that gets the ball rolling. For him, as for Macbeth, the first murder is always the hardest, but it gets easier with next few. For Macbeth, it gets excessively easier.

The tendency to be impressionable-either by one’s own mind tricks or the biting word from Lady Macbeth or the witches-makes Macbeth vulnerable to his own impulses of greed and power and the subsequent implication for evil. It’s also what makes him appear partly as a tragic hero, someone whose flaws of initial weak sense of self allows him to be a plaything of fates and witches. Those reading Macbeth as a tale of power and greed must also take into consideration how such ambitions are essentially weaknesses for Macbeth, as he fails prey to his own flaws. A cautionary tale indeed.

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6 Facts About Oil Paint

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1. The earliest known paintings that were done in oils date back to the 7th century BC. These paintings were Buddhist murals that were discovered in caves in Western Afghanistan. Oil paint didn’t become widespread for use in art works until the 15th century, when it became popular throughout Europe. Jan van Eyck, a 15th century Flemish painter, is widely believed to have invented it, though in reality he did not invent it, instead he developed it.

2. Oil paint is credited with revolutionising art. One of its key properties is that it’s very slow to dry. It gave artists a lot more time to work on their paintings and it allowed them to correct any mistakes they might have made. Oil paints allowed for artists’ creativity to flourish more because artists could devote more time to each painting. Many of the most widely praised paintings were done in oils.

3. For a few centuries artists had to store their oil paints in animal bladders. This was because the paint tube wasn’t invented until 1841. It was invented by John Goffe Rand, an American painter. Before the tube was invented, artists would have to mix their paints themselves before painting. They would have to grind the pigment up themselves, then carefully mix in the binder and thinner.

4. The most basic type of oil paint is made up of ground-up pigment, a binder and a thinner, which is usually turpentine. For the binder there are lots of different substances that can be used, including linseed oil, walnut oil and poppy seed oil; each of these gives the paint different effects and has different drying times.

5. There are modern versions of oil paint that can dry a lot more quickly than the standard version. The way that it dries is not by evaporation, but by oxidation, the process where substances gain oxygen. It is generally accepted that the typical painting done in oils will be dry to touch after about two weeks, though it can take six months to a year before the painting’s actually dry enough to be varnished.

6. Oil paint is very durable and tough, so it’s used as a finish and protector. It can be used on wood and metal and in both cases, it can be used internally as well as externally. It’s often applied to wood during building construction and can be found on metallic surfaces on things like planes, bridges and ships.

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