Sheahan Prabhu Ms. Bancheri ENG – 3U1 November 29th, 2010 Macbeth and Pi’s Gradual loss of Morals Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi and Shakespeare’s tragic play Macbeth reveal certain similarities, when juxtaposed. These two texts display the gradual loss of morals between the characters of Macbeth and Pi. This is conveyed through specific events within the two books, such as Macbeth and Pi’s lust to kill, their guilt and themselves going crazy, will articulate the loss of their morals. The following analysis will discuss these themes extensively.
Macbeth and Pi Patel portray their gradual loss of morals through their lust to kill. Macbeth’s reason for killing is for power. For instance, Macbeth’s lust to kill is demonstrated when he lists the advantages and disadvantages for killing the king (Shakespeare, I. vii. 1-28). This is one of Macbeth’s soliloquy, he spends a lot of time deciding whether to kill Duncan. In this example Macbeth knows that there are more disadvantages of killing the king than advantages. So, Macbeth hesitates a lot because it is his first murder. Another example is illustrated, when Macbeth convinced the murderers to execute Banquo (III. . 77-75). Macbeth wants to kill Banquo because, he wants to stay the king of Scotland, and he also knows that Banquo’s descendants will be kings, which was prophesised by the three witches. Even though Banquo is Macbeth’s best friend, Macbeth is suspicious of Banquo because he thinks Banquo knows that he killed the king; he decides to kill Banquo by hiring murderers. Macbeth’s hesitations is greatly reduced, when comparing it to Duncan. Another example of Macbeth’s lust to kill are his plans to kill Macduff and his family (IV. i. 142-155).
Macbeth wants to kill Macduff’s family because he finds out from the three witches to beware of the Thane of Fife, Macduff. Due to this, Macbeth decides to kill Macduff and everyone in his castle to ensure his reign as the king of Scotland continues. As for Macduff, Macbeth doesn’t hesitate at all; he just gives the order for the murderers to kill every person in Macduff’s castle. The reduced hesitation in Macbeth after every murder exhibit the gradual loss of morals because he spends lesser time thinking about the murder. He never murdered anyone for ersonal gain until Duncan, which made him slowly break his morals. So, he took lesser time for the other murderers because he already broke his morals. Pi’s, lust for murder on the other hand, is for survival. Pi’s first example for his lust to kill is portrayed, when he kills his first fish (Martel, 202-203). Pi compares himself to Cain in this quote, because he says he has committed murder. Pi also says that he will pray for the fish’s soul because he is guilty for killing and torturing the fish. Pi hesitates a lot and is in shock during the killing of the fish because he is doing the opposite of what he learnt.
Pi’s lust for killing is also apparent when he wants to kill the fish for food (216). Pi tries to immobilize the fish by crushing its stomach with his knees, jamming its gills with his hands and sticking his fingers into its eyes until he can get the hatchet to chop off its head. Pi kills the fish because he needs to feed himself and Richard Parker and make himself and RP survive. Pi has lesser hesitation in this example when comparing to the first example. Pi’s reduced hesitation is evident because he has gotten over his previous catch and he has got the idea that he has to kill, to ensure he and RP survives.
Another example of Pi’s lust to kill is demonstrated when he retells his experience of his first turtle catch (222-224). Pi wants to kill the turtle because he wants to use its body parts and blood for food and drink. Pi uses a knife and hatchet to butcher the turtle and to consume what he can to survive. Pi started off hesitating a lot because of killing his first fish, this hesitation reduced greatly through the course of his next fish and it went onto no hesitation for killing a turtle. Pi wasn’t a killer before these examples.
These illustrations exhibit Pi’s gradual loss of morals through his lust to kill for survival. Essentially, Macbeth and Pi’s lust to kill clearly illustrate their gradual loss of morals. Furthermore, to Pi’s and Macbeth’s lust to kill, their personal guilt will also express their gradual loss of morals. An illustration of Macbeth’s guilt is portrayed by him guilty for killing Duncan (Shakespeare, II. ii. 53-55). Macbeth states in these lines that he doesn’t want to look back on this incident and he is afraid to think of what he has done.
Macbeth is guilty for killing the king, so he is losing his morals because he is doing different things than what he used to do. Before Macbeth used to respect the king, and later he plans to kill the king. Once his deed is done he feels guilty, which indicates his loss of morals. Pi’s guilt is also apparent when he wants to eat army rations for food . He says, “Pity about the fact, but given the circumstances the vegetarian part of me would simply pinch its nose and bear it” (Martel, 159). Pi is guilty for breaking his morals by eating army rations because they contain animal fat.
It is evident that Pi says, that based on the circumstances he is in; they are too bad for him to stay vegetarian. He feels guilty for this incident because he is eating animal fat, because he has never eaten any meat or fat in his life. Pi’s gradual loss of morals is revealed, through his guilt because he has to eat army rations to survive. Pi is originally a vegetarian and by eating the army rations convey the gradual loss of his morals. Therefore, these examples between Macbeth and Pi clearly exhibit the gradual loss of morals through their guilt.
In addition to Macbeth and Pi’s lust to kill, and their guilt, Macbeth and Pi going crazy themselves will also articulate the gradual loss of their morals. Macbeth reason for becoming crazy is that he can’t stand the thought and actions of the murders he committed. For instance, Macbeth says, “Is this dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come let me clutch thee, I have thee not and yet I see thee still” (Shakespeare, II. i. 33-35) This example is the first time in the play where Macbeth is starting to go crazy.
Even though Macbeth can’t grab the dagger, he can still see it which indicates that he is losing his mind. This scene occurs before Macbeth murders Duncan. Another example that demonstrates Macbeth is going crazy is when he says “Methought I heard a voice cry ‘sleep no more Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep” (II. ii. 38-39). This illustration is the middle stage of him losing his mind because only he and Lady Macbeth are in the room and he hears voices speaking. These explanations prove that Macbeth is crazy.
The last illustration to exhibit Macbeth is crazy occurs at the Banquet, when he sees Banquo’s ghost sitting at his seat (III. iv. 46-51). Macbeth sees Banquo at the table and tells his guests that the table is full. He also questions them and he thinks that they are playing a trick on him. Macbeth goes so far that he doubts his guests and him seeing Banquo’s ghost clearly displays that he is hallucinating. These examples of Macbeth further reveal the gradual loss of his morals, by him slowly getting crazy.
Macbeth’s level of craziness increases as the play goes on because he can’t stand the fact that he murdered Duncan which makes him go crazy. Macbeth was not crazy before he murdered Duncan, he had no issues until then. Although, Pi also becomes crazy, Pi loses his mind because of the lack of food aboard the lifeboat. Firstly, Pi compares raw turtle meat and fish to real Indian food (Martel, 236). Pi compares the parts of the turtle and fish as toppings and meals for him to eat at sea. He also compares and puts together a combination that will resemble a thali.
This reveals Pi is going crazy because of the lack of food on the lifeboat. Secondly, Pi tries Richard Parker’s faces when he says “I popped the ball into my mouth. I couldn’t eat it” (238). Pi was so hungry that anything he tried would taste good to him, so he tried to eat Richard Parker’s excretory, he describes it as being warm and dark. After Pi puts Richard Parker’s feces in his mouth, he realizes the substance he ate cannot be absorbed by the body because it came from Richard Packer’s waste. This shows that Pi is going crazier for food since there is not enough food on the lifeboat.
Lastly, Pi also tries the Frenchman’s meat when he says “I will further confess that driven by the extremity of my need and the madness to which it pushed me, I ate some of his flesh (294). This quotation proves that Pi consumes the Frenchman’s flesh because of his need and madness combined. These examples indicate Pi’s gradual loss of morals because he stoops so low as to eat human flesh, since he does not have any proper food on the lifeboat. Pi never put foreign substances in his mouth because he is a strict vegetarian, but at sea he puts all sorts of things in his mouth.
Thus, these explanations clearly exhibit Macbeth and Pi’s gradual loss of morals, because they are crazy. In conclusion, to the analysis, Macbeth and Pi’s lust to kill, their guilt themselves going crazy, through their own actions, clearly conveys the theme of their gradual loss of their morals through specific events within the two books. Ultimately, Macbeth and Pi’s gradual loss of morals is an essential component of the plot in both books.
Bibliography * Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Harcourt, New York, 2001. * Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Oxford University Press, London, 1977.