The Classic Shakespearean Play

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The classic Shakespearean play, The Tragedy of Macbeth, mirrors many themes and concepts that are still relevant to modern times. Many readers are able to identify with said themes, such as ambition, which is still exhibited in some of today’s most famous people. One of these is Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of former U.S. President, Bill Clinton. Over time, it has become more recognized that there are many similarities between Hillary Clinton and the character Lady Macbeth from William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth is a strong, ambitious woman who, throughout the play, executes many tasks purely for her own needs. It would be difficult to name a character more completely absorbed and controlled by reckless ambition than that of Lady Macbeth, and to find a woman more frequently accused of equivalent ambition than the woman Donald Trump calls Crooked Hillary. Only, unlike Lady Macbeth, Clinton didn’t stop at encouraging her husband to rise to the nation’s top, she then wanted that power for herself.

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When Shakespeare first introduces his audience to Lady Macbeth, he is quick to show how power hungry she is. Upon receiving a letter from her husband describing the prophecy, given to him by the Weird Sisters, that he will be king, she does not only welcome the news. She uses this as justification for killing the current king, Duncan, and his wife. In one of Shakespeare’s most chilling scenes, Lady Macbeth prepares herself for King Duncan’s murder by calling on the gods to dry up her breast milk and dispel any ounce of feminine care and pity from her. She then pressures her husband to commit the regicide that sets the play in motion.

Unsurprisingly, the murderous actions of the couple bring down Lady Macbeth. Her husband quickly regrets his actions and finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his victims. Lady Macbeth, on the other hand, remains remorseless. As others learn of the Macbeth’s actions, Lady Macbeth begins to psychologically deteriorate and dies as a result of her derangement.

While former president Bill Clinton was working to avoid impeachment, though no political rivals were killed in the process, it’s not hard to see it’s not hard to pick out the parallels in the scandals and ambition that attend the Macbeth’s rise to power, and those of the Clinton’s. It would not, however be a stretch to suggest that ambition, rather than a Democratic agenda, drove Hillary Clinton’s desire to be the first female president. Many of Clinton’s critics suggest that, like Lady Macbeth, she is overreaching, aspiring to a presidency that her husband already held (Schneider). Add to her ambition her insistence on preserving her privacy, and her initial unwillingness to cooperate with investigations into her work as Secretary of State, and the nation is left with the image of a secretive, conspiring leader, similar to the one that brought Scotland to its knees four hundred years prior.

Like Lady Macbeth, there is nothing Clinton will not do, say, think, or feel to get what she wants. She has a ruthless, unapologetic, unshamable way in which she pursues [her] ambition(Times), and while all politicians lie to win popularity, many believe that Hillary’s entire campaign is a Grand Deceit, an entirely artificial construct built around a person who, stripped bare of the cynicism, manipulation and calculation, is nothing more than an enormous, overpowering and rather terrifying ego.(Times).

The Clinton’s and Macbeth’s alike have no problem doing anything and everything that it takes to rise to power. It is easy to see that the Clinton’s do not take prisoners and that friends and enemies alike are sacrificed on the altar of power (All Africa). This is also evident in the Macbeth’s relationship following the multiple murders committed by the two to ensure their throne. Clinton has a willingness to adopt a myriad of public faces (Rust). After each of the Clinton’s political scandals, she seems to adopt yet another political persona to benefit herself or her husbands standing with the people.

Many believe that Hillary used her husband solely to climb her way up to political ladder. While this may or may not be true, there is no doubt that her marriage worked in her favor when it comes to her political rankings. Her allegiance to Bill despite his infidelities warmed her image to the public eye. In the wake of Lewinsky scandal, Hillary’s approval ratings, once dismal, soared (Winkler). However, her power, like Lady Macbeths, is dependent on her husband. Lady Macbeth could not become Queen without Macbeth, much like Hillary would not have risen to power without Bill.

Melissa Mackenzie from The Spectator believes Clinton is full of, consuming ambition, inflexibility of purpose, domination of a pliable husband, and an unsettling lack of tender human feeling, along with the affluent feminist’s contempt for traditional female roles (Mackenzie). These are characteristics that are also very evident in Lady Macbeth. Both Clinton and Lady macbeth are women who are behind the scenes, and weave themselves into business that does not fall under their job description. Along with this, both women consistently defend their husbands, even though they’re involved in many scandals, solely to save their own reputations.

Lady Macbeth convinces the men at the dinner party that Macbeth suffered from a long term mental illness while he made a scene upon seeing Banquo’s ghost, nearly confessing to the murders, to cover up for the couple’s actions. This is very similar to how while in an interview, Clinton is asked questions about Bill and his many scandals, including the Lewinsky scandal, and time after time she sticks up for her husband. She not only stayed but actively strategized what to do when a shoe dropped (Dettmer). She is always prepared to blame anyone else for their scandals, and, like the Macbeth’s, they don’t seem to care if their friends and allies become casualties (Dettmer).
Many believe that there has always been a Lady Macbeth story line to (Clinton’s) controversy-filled White House years. She found herself at the center of a host of scandals and pseudo-scandals, from the intrigue around the Clintons’ failed Whitewater real estate deal to the mysterious disappearance and reappearance of her law firm records to her suspiciously lucrative trades in cattle futures. (Tumulty).
While Hillary Clinton, unlike Lady Macbeth, does not murder anyone to rise to the top of the political ladder, she does it is hard not to see the parallels between the two women. Both Clinton and Lady Macbeth were power consumed, and used their husbands to achieve said power. They are both the secretive, conspiring women behind their husband’s actions, encouraging their behavior, and covering up their mistakes to ensure that the couple would not get caught, or, in the Clinton’s case, make sure their ratings wouldn’t plummet. It has become very clear over the last few years that Hillary Clinton’s ambition, and lust for power have made many people begin to believe that Hillary is, in fact, the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock.

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The Classic Shakespearean Play. (2019, Jul 17). Retrieved January 28, 2023 , from

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