A Study of Twin Emotions of Fear and Courage

Categories: Macbeth
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We have all got light and dark inside of us. What matters in what part we choose to act on, that is who we really are’ ” Sirius Black Good morning everyone my name is Nishtha Saraf and my IOP topic is how have Macbeth in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Washizu in Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of blood been portrayed as a character who constantly balances between these two extreme emotions. If we take the above quote into consideration, light can be considered to be a positive attribute where it refers to valor whereas the dark can be considered to be the negative aspect which refers to fear and deceit.

Macbeth is often called valor’s minion’ which displays the vaulting ambition to be the hamartia’ and makes the audience view him as a tragic protagonist and creates a sense of catharsis in the audience. Behind every character and role there is always an objective that needs to be fulfilled. But every character has a graph which shows the mental and physical development of that character, thus affecting the plot and driving it.

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Macbeth’s was one which started at extreme valor came down to dismay and then rose to courage again. This had other emotions like ambition, guilt and greed that acted like the driving force and many cases a catalyst. These emotions led to certain actions which displayed Macbeth/ Washizu’s character as one of fear and courage.


From the very beginning Macbeth has been portrayed as a figure who is larger than life so much so that even before having an encounter with his character the audience is convinced that he is a dauntless warrior.

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The soul reason for this is the dramatic techniques used by the author. The conversations portray that all’s too weak; for brave Macbeth (well he deserves that name)’ or when the captain describes the Macbeth- BAnquo duo as eagles’ and lions’. This results in the formation of a certain enigma that starts getting associated with his character thus also creating a sense of suspense to meet the character. The audience finds it very intriguing that without even meeting the hero they have this preconceived notion about his abilities. His abilities of courage are later displayed when he is rewarded for it. His loyalty that is born out of his morals and courage is put to test when Duncan comes to visit Inverness.

Thus this is why he is inclined to say that he should be doubly loyal to Duncan. This loyalty is also the reason why he hesitates to kill Duncan and asks Lady Macbeth to undertake the treacherous action. Personally I feel that the treacharous act of killing Duncan too takes a lot of courage, especiallly when he was hallucinating daggers and his loyalty as a kinsman came in to play. Thus incorporating the emotions of greed and guilt at the same time. The audience thus come to know of Macbeth’s courageous character where he goes to every extent to fulfill his ambition, but it up to us as the audience to interpret whether these actions are morally and ethically correct or not. I feel that it seems justified to him because he is undertaking it to fulfill his desires and ambitions but still there is a hint of guilt, that is born of morals and loyalty.WASHIZU-Similarly in the movie the audience sees Washizu’s character to be vaulting. The Noh Theatre that is used by Kurosawa is the most significant aspect to discuss. Washizu too is a character who seems to be the manifestation of valor.

Since it is a Japanese adaptation the comprehension ability of us as an audience is low but the facial expressions of the actors which is an integral part of Noh Theatre conveys the message clearly. The act of killing Duncan in the movie too takes a lot of courage on Washizu’s part. The audience is wrapped in the mystery of Washizu’s character just like in Macbeth’s case. The courage he displays when Miki and he encounter the Mountain witch by approaching the hut seems to be commendable. This is shown through the theatrical techniques of perspective and close shots. Thus in both cases the audience is driven by the urge to want to know more about the hero of the story and understand how his vaulting ambition adversly affects his life. Even though he has disrupted the natural order of the planet by killing the king, which also requires courage on his part, the audience wants to delve deeper into his character. This never ceasing case of interest is developed in the character from the audience’s perspective.


The audience realizes through the soliloques and Macbeth’s following actions that there has been a slight metamorphosis in the character of Macbeth as a person. The fear factor settles in even before the guilt of killing Duncan is undertaken or the guilt after the killing sets in. The fear is obvious when he has hallucinations of the dagger with which he was about to kill Duncan. As soon as he ends Duncan’s life he says that I am afraid to think what I have done’, by this, it becomes evident to the audience Washizu has developed extreme guilt and it is difficult for him to completetly accept the circumstances or his immediate actions. The fear of Banquo revealing Macbeth’s secret is also deep seated and this results is his assasination.

This fear is also a result of the propehcy that his lineage shall be king, thus replacing Macbeth. During the Banquet scene Macbeth’s movements seem to be the definition of hysteria when his fear finds a manifestation in Banquo’s ghost. The author uses the witches as a dramatic device to show Macbeth’s agitation. The audience realizes it when Macbeth goes to visit them for a second time to know what turn his life will take. This shows the deep seated belief in superstition which the Elizabethan Audience would be able to relate to, but not the 21st century audience. The prophecy has been portrayed by the author in such a way that it seems to have led to the next fear, which was of Macduff. The audience now realizes that Macbeth’s metamorphosis has led him to become an extremely weak person at heart. He is always portrayed to be in a state of panic and hysteria and that has resulted in him becoming a tyrant and cold blooded murder. This is reaffirmed when he kills Macduff’s family.

The author has used efficient visual imagery which has a great impact on the audience. Now what they see Macbeth is that he is a man who has lost all his morals and will go to any extent to ensure his position at the zenith.


Korusawa uses effective masks , folllowing the Noh Theatre and effective sounds and props in the case of the movie to bring across the message to the audience. The apprehension and conflict in Washizu’s mind has been expressed through the close shot when he decides to kill Tsuzuki but the hallucination of the dagger is not seen. The expressions again through the zoomed in shot convey the inner tempest in Macbeth’s mind.Washizu similarly is scared of Miki revealing his secret and envious of his lineage’s prophecy. Thus he too demands to get Miki assasinated. The method that the director uses of get the impact of Miki’s ghost is through the perspective shots. Thus the ghost can only be seen when the camera displays the perspective from Washizu’s point of view. This has a great impact on the audience as it seems to convey the significance of the ghost being a manifestation and figment of his mind.

Washizu too goes to see the mountain witch again, which displays his tempest and dread. But the transmediation is seen when he does not undertake the action of killing Macduff’s family. That is because Macduff’s family is not really given much emphasis in the film. These acts of violence seem to be a defence mechanism for Washizu, but the fact that he had to kill people to maintain his position is what qualifies these actions as being one out of fear. This if explained psychologically explains that he felt that he was in power when he was undermining that of others by sentencing them to their deaths.


The come back of both Washizu and Macbeth seem to be the same. It certainly has traces of being in authority with an essence of arrogance. The valour comes through when he is motivating his army to fight against Malcolm and Macduff. His river of emotions as a warrior (as seen in the beginning of the play) seem to come through. The courageous or tragic end to both can be considered to be the last battle. In the play he is portrayed to fight under the fa§ade that no man is born of a woman is capable of killing him, thus he is invincible. But when he comes to know that Macduff does indeed fit into the criteria of the second prophecy of the witches he says that-I will not yield, to kiss the ground yet I will try the last: before my body I throw my war like shield.’ This speaks volumes of his character and how even when he realized that he was about to face his end he chose to fight and die fighting instead of giving in or giving up.

The most significant transmediation is seen here and that is in the movie is killed by his army. He is betrayed just the way he betrayed, thus completion of a full cylce. Thus to conclude I feel that Macbeth or Washizu’s character is like a beam balance. They are constantly balancing extreme emotions of fear and courage. The audience understands that it depends on the context and also the emotion which is dominant. Thus that is why Macbeth has such a striking presence. The beam is inclined towards one side at a specific time and on the other at another time. The audience is smitten to this. Seeing the heroic end that both Washizu and Macbeth face they develop sympathy for him, they qualify him as a tragic protagonist. Thus the element of catharsis.

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A Study of Twin Emotions of Fear and Courage. (2019, Aug 20). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/a-study-of-twin-emotions-of-fear-and-courage-essay

A Study of Twin Emotions of Fear and Courage
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