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Stripped of Shakespeares poetic style and skilful characterization Macbeth is revealed as little more than a petty tyrant Like Machiavellis Prince Macbeth seeks power as an end in itself and sees any means as justified provided it helps him achieve his goal It is a standard image of power an individual or small group occupying a position of authority from which he seldom she attempts to force his will upon others Todays equivalent of a feudal monarch is the power-hungry politician the cult leader or the ruthless business tycoon But the new historicist conception of power is different rather than being a top-down affair that originates from a specific place or individual power comes from all around us it permeates us and it influences us in many subtle and different ways This idea of decentralized power heavily indebted to post-structuralist philosophy see Derrida and Foucault is sometimes difficult to understand because it seems to have an intangible mystical quality Power appears to operate and maintain itself on its own without any identifiable individual actually working the control levers This new historicist notion of power is evident in Macbeth in the way in which Macbeths apparent subversion of authority culminates in the re-establishment of that same type of authority under Malcolm A ruthless king is replaced with another king a less ruthless one perhaps but that is due to Malcolms benevolent disposition not to any reform of the monarchy Similarly the subversion of the plays moral order is contained and the old order reaffirmed by the righteous response to that subversion In other words what we see at the beginning of the play--an established monarch and the strong Christian values that legitimize his sovereignty--is the same as what we see at the end of the play only now the monarchy and its supporting values are even more firmly entrenched thanks to the temporary disruption It is almost as if some outside force carefully orchestrates events in
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