Shakespeare`s Play Becoming Reality

Categories: MacbethScotland

Macbeth was a character in a play written by Shakespeare in 1606. He was written to become a tyrannical leader to Scotland after killing the former king and anyone who got in his way. Macbeth was joined in doing these actions with his wife, Lady Macbeth, who was the source of the idea to kill the king for the throne. Macbeth later killed many important leaders to Scotland in the play and became too arrogant in his rule to believe he was anything less than a great king.

Throughout the story, we see a change of views from Macbeth which transitioned into almost exactly what we saw from Saddam Hussein back when he was the president of Iraq.

Saddam Hussein was the president of Iraq from the years 1979 to 2003, in which he caused many deaths and disastrous events to occur. He was a strict ruler who had no mercy for anyone that did not agree with him nor his ideas. For many who may look into this man’s life, it’s evident the he had a life that lead into the disastrous man he became and many wonder what made up his mind to complete the actions he did.

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Unlike Macbeth, Hussein grew up hungry for power and to rule his country the way he believed was the correct way. His uncle even pushing him to becoming a tyrannical leader and a leading role in his political party as just a teen boy.

Macbeth was a man of greed, killing others to gain only what he wanted, not caring for the consequences.

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Saddam Hussein was a man of disaster, hurting everything that people loved and cared about, also not caring about the consequences of his actions. These two men who were both looked up to before ruling over their countries, then became the entire reason why their countries failed during their rule. Although, one man is a fictional character while the other one is a real tyrannical leader, they both shared many things in common. In many ways the two men, Hussein and Macbeth were very similar during their rule of their particular countries.

Both Macbeth and Saddam Hussein had roles in the attempted assassinations of former leaders before they took rule. Both men attempted to assassinate their former leaders, but only Macbeth succeeded in killing the king. Hussein, however, played roles in the attempted assassinations of two former presidents of Iraq who, thankfully, lived. Macbeth and Hussein were also both known for killing men and women who, in their minds, betrayed them and their country by not agreeing with them. That, in turn, lead to many deaths of honorable men and even deaths of these men and women’s families.

Macbeth and his wife planned to kill King Duncan after Macbeth was given a prophecy from the Weird Sisters. The sisters said that Macbeth would become king, so Lady Macbeth and Macbeth planned to kill Duncan to gain what was “rightfully” Macbeth’s. Although, in the beginning, it looked as if Macbeth was confident that he wouldn’t have to kill Duncan, his wife and his hunger for power took over and by the end of Duncan’s stay with the Macbeth family, he had been murdered in his sleep. Although, a much less successful attempt, but also more bloody, Saddam Hussein was known to have had a rule in the attempted assassinations of at least two former presidents of Iraq before he took office. One attempt stood out the most to people because, as just a young man in his early twenties, Saddam Hussein played the leading role in the attempted assassination of Iraq’s Prime Minister along with many other Iraqis in the Ba’th party. “Hussein was involved in his first bloody political act in 1959, taking part in a failed bid to overthrow Iraqi Prime Minister Abd al-Karim Qassim…”(RFERL). This forever changed people’s view over Hussein and the Ba’th party but, for some reason, the Ba’th party was kept as a leading political party and Hussein was only given six months in prison.

Macbeth had Banquo assassinated after he killed Duncan because he believed that Banquo suspected he was Duncan’s murder and because the witches also told Banquo that even if he was never king, his descendants would be. Macbeth tried to kill both Banquo and his son but his son escaped the assassination attempt and ran away. Macbeth also tried to kill many other characters who went against his ideas as a king, much like Hussein and his killings of everyone who spoke bad about the Ba’th party during his rule. Hussein was a man of no mercy and making others believe in what he believed in was his main priority as King of Iraq. He even went as far as to making this law: “In Iraq a person is subject to the death penalty if he/she chooses to leave the Baath Party, if he/she persuades someone else to leave the Baath Party, if he/she joins the Baath while maintaining contact with a political party or organization outside the Baath, if he/she conceals previous membership in another party or organization, or if he/she makes a derogatory comment in relation to the Baath or its leadership. In such a climate, betrayal is to be expected and nepotism becomes essential to the leadership’s very survival” (Foster). This lead to the deaths of many people in Iraq, even people who Hussein was thought to hold as a friend. This law made Iraq become unsafe much like Macbeth made Scotland, especially for the Macduff family.

The Macduff family were characters in “Macbeth” who were innocent and living behind the shadows of their father/husband Macduff who, at the time, was suppose to be a leader to Scotland but ran off when he suspected Macbeth of murdering him. A tyrannical leader, as people can see from both Macbeth and Hussein, doesn’t care about innocence, only revenge. This meant taking it out on whoever they wanted revenge upons loved ones. For Macbeth, he sent his personal assassins to murders Macduff’s wife and children while he ran from Macbeth’s ruling, trying to keep his family safe. Macbeth sought revenge on Macduff for not following his rule, and instead killed his family to leave that burden on his shoulders the rest of his life. Almost for the exact same reasons, Saddam Hussein would kill loved ones of many men that “betrayed” the Ba’th party in his mind. Although, Macbeth just killed Macduff’s family, Hussein tortured these men by doing vile actions to their families. Hussein had no lines in the torturing of these men making them be a part of many ugly acts, “…public executions, husbands forced to watch the gang-raping of their wives, forcible administration of rat poison and blood draining of prisoners–that have characterized the Baathist reign of terror” (Foster). Not only were these punishments given to men but even women went through the agonizing pain of Hussein’s corrupt punishment methods. Weirdly enough, some considered this Iraq’s first step towards equality, even becoming said that “Iraqi women have been ‘granted equal rights with men only in detention and torture” (Foster).

Another weird similarity between Macbeth and Saddam Hussein was that they had the same psychological thoughts as each other. Even though Macbeth was fictional, all characters are easy to find personality traits and psychological thinking methods. Both Macbeth and Hussein were too conceded to believe there was any way they would be overthrown. Even after being captured and taken out of power, both of these men believed they still had power over people and would be given the mercy to live.

Macbeth was given prophecies throughout the play about his future as king and how he would later be overthrown and killed. When he was given the prophecies, Macbeth always found a way around ignoring them. Macbeth was so confident in the idea that he would not be able to be killed, he overlooked parts of the prophecies and in the end, got himself killed. Hussein, although having a different situation and ending, he also held the idea that people loved him so much, he would not be killed or overthrown. After being taken into custody by American forces, Hussein had a long three year court trial to be given the decision of the death sentence. While he stayed in American custody during his trial, he was said to have been acting strangely in his cell, almost like he believed that he wouldn’t be killed or overthrown, “All his drinks, from milk to water to orange juice, had to be room temperature,’ writes DePaulo. ‘He wouldn’t eat beef but seemed to like fish and chicken. Salads were acceptable, but only if they came with Italian dressing,’ which he used to marinate his olives. The guards say at times Saddam would be ‘singing and dancing a jig, clapping his hands, stomping his feet’ (Matus). Hussein definitely showed no signs of fear for his life and was clearly in the mind of not being guilty of any of the acts he committed during his rule. Even after being sentenced to death, Hussein kept yelling comments about being the president and how he shouldn’t be treated the way a “true” criminal should be treated.

Both Macbeth and Hussein acted like they had no cares in the world, even though they knew about their forthcoming death. Scarily enough, they both choose to ignore their upcoming death even after both the prophecies and the rulings were through. The constant trait of arrogance being given off from both leaders, shows a evident popular seen trait in all leaders who are lead into the title of being a tyrannical leader. Macbeth and Hussein were both men that could’ve turned out to help their countries to become better. Yet, thanks to their arrogance, they both failed their country miserably in the long run.

Ignoring the thought about their deaths was one thing, but the way both Saddam Hussein and Macbeth were killed, almost seemed to be the same. Macbeth has been fighting Macduff at the end of the play so that Macbeth could be overthrown. Macduff found himself confessing to Macbeth that he was one of the prophecies that Macbeth had been originally told when the witches talked about his death. Later in the play, Macduff walks back to Malcolm carrying Macbeth’s head. From what we heard from some of the soldiers that were present for the assassination of Saddam Hussein, Hussein was suppose to be hung, “…Judge Ra’ouf sentenced Saddam to ‘death by hanging’ for the crime of willfully murdering Iraqi citizens from the town of al-Dujail” (Newton). The weird comparison about the way they were both killed was because they were both being killed for what they had been guilty of doing to others. Although, no evidence was there to prove that Macbeth killed all those men, he was still killed for it and because of his terrible leadership to his country. Hussein, although there was clear evidence that the man killed all those innocent men and women, was killed for the same reason, the murder of innocent men and women.

Before coming into rule in their countries, both Macbeth and Hussein were very known men that fought in the military. Macbeth, being one of Scotland’s best soldiers, was known for vicious, easy, and swift kills while out at battle, Hussein, on the other hand, was a general to the military, meaning he wasn’t known as a man that went out to kill, he was to strategize all of Iraq’s attacks, but became one that used others to do his bidding to others.

Macbeth was, at one point, a good man and would try to his best to let everyone that watched him fight, either on his team or not, know that. He was clean with his deaths during battle and was calm and swift when it lead to actually killing some of the men. Even though Macbeth was not king at the time, he was a very well known soldier and didn’t need much help from his former partner, Banquo. Hussein was an extraordinary general who knew how to win at the battlefield. He was well known with his work before and after he became president. Not only did he know how to work the battlefields, but he knew exactly what equipment and came up with the best timing to start an attack. “Within days of the start of the conflict, he was promising to send troops and equipment to help the Palestinians” (Norton). Just like Macbeth, they saw him in a different way, a more truthful and helpful man, rather than the dangerous tyrannical ruler everybody saw him as starting after he got the presidency.

Macbeth proved to many, up to Hussein’s time, what a tyrannical leader was suppose to be like. As time approached Hussein, it was evident that the traits, and different ways that both Macbeth and Hussein had of ruling, were proving that Saddam Hussein had started to become the real life version of Macbeth. All of the years of Saddam Hussein’s life were being lived almost like a script of Macbeth, all from his start in the Ba’th party in his young twenties, all the way to Hussein’s death back in 2006. Although more similarities can be seen between Macbeth and other men who are thought to be tyrannical leaders as of present day are also super comparable, it’s clearly evident that Macbeth and Saddam Hussein fit together like twins. At the end of the day there is no denying the incredibly similar lives that were being lead by these two very impactful people. What people see in the mind of Shakespeare is much more than just a story, although his plays may be fiction, they can also be the linked to a reality.

Works Cited

  • RFE/RL. “Obituary: A Dictator’s Life.” RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, 2 Feb. 2012,
  • Foster, John Bellamy. ‘Fascism in Iraq.’ Monthly Review, Nov. 1991, p. 33+. General OneFile, Accessed 3 Dec. 2018.
  • Matus, Victorino. ‘On the disposal of dictators.’ Policy Review, no. 134, 2005, p. 59+. General OneFile, Accessed 6 Dec. 2018.
  • Newton, Michael A. ‘A near term retrospective on the al-Dujail trial & the death of Saddam Hussein.’ Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems, Winter 2008, p. 31+. General OneFile, Accessed 12 Dec. 2018.
  • Norton, Andre. ‘SADDAM TAKES A CHANCE.’ The Middle East, Dec. 2000, p. 10. General OneFile, Accessed 10 Dec. 2018.

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Shakespeare`s Play Becoming Reality. (2021, Oct 14). Retrieved from

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