A Modern Macbeth
When looking back on the recent decades or even last week, it is not difficult to find a Macbeth-like figure in mainstream American culture. In this it is meant that these individuals experience a downfall in an attempt to gain power. One such figure was former President Richard Nixon.
Nixon was long associated with American politics before his fall from grace. He was along time senator before finally being elected president in 1968. During his first term, his United States went through the Vietnam War and a period of economic inflation. In 1972 he was easily re-elected over Democrat nominee George McGovern. Almost unnoticed during his campaign was the arrest of five men connected with Nixons re-election committee. They had broken into the Democrats national head quarters in the Watergate apartment complex, in Washington D.C. They attempted to steal documents and place wire taps on the telephones. By March of 1973, through a federal inquiry, it had been brought to light that the burglars had connections with high government officials and Nixons closest aids. Despite Nixon and his lawyers best efforts, it was shown that the president had participated in the Watergate cover-up. On August 8, 1974 Nixon announced, without admitting guilt, that he would resign. He left the Oval Office the next day: an obvious fall from grace.
So how does this former leader of the free world compare to Macbeth? Before they achieved their positions of power to govern or rule all, both Nixon and Macbeth spent many years being heavily respected amongst their peers. Nixon spent many years as a respected congressman and Macbeth as a soldier and Thane of Glamis. They used the way people viewed them to their advantage to gain a position of power. Nixon used his experience to get him elected president. Macbeth was made Thane of Cawdor and eventually king. Once they both ascended to their respected roles they did whatever it took to protect themselves from any possible threats. Nixon cheated by trying to steal opponents campaign secrets thus giving him an unfair advantage. Macbeth either killed or tried to intimidate anyone that he felt was in his way. Murder cannot be equated to spying but the main idea is that they both did whatever it took to maintain their power.
Like Shakespeares Macbeth, Richard Nixon ascended to power only to have a downfall and end up with nothing. It was their attempt to gain and maintain this power that lead to this fall from grace.