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Powerful Emotions

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The power of emotion overcomes reason in people's actions. Macduff Brenna expressed this idea when he stated, "All literature shows us the power of emotions. It is emotion, not reason, that motivates characters in literature." Two pieces of literature that express emotion overcoming reason in characters' lives are Macbeth by William Shakespeare and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Emotion will cause people to make decisions without thinking, and sometimes these decisions can lead to the downfall of that person.

William Shakespeare's tragedy, Macbeth, takes place in Medieval Scotland. Macbeth, the main character, starts the story as a brave soldier and lord of a small town in Scotland. After a prophesy from three witches that says Macbeth will end up as king of Scotland, the struggle within Macbeth between his ambition and his sense of right and wrong begins. Macbeth is convinced, mostly by his power-hungry wife, to kill the king and take the throne himself. Just before Macbeth kills the king, he sees a hallucination of a floating dagger pointing towards the king's room. This symbolizes that Macbeth is hardly able to help himself any longer, no longer what consequences he will soon face. Macbeth continues murdering people who threaten his spot as king, and him and his wife are haunted by guilt. Finally, Lady Macbeth commits suicide because she can't handle the guilt and Macbeth is killed in a rebellion.

Macbeth does think about what could follow if he killed the king, but he can't reason enough to not do it. Lady Macbeth, wanting to be queen so badly, convinces her husband to murder the king. She doesn't care what consequences will follow. All she wants is to be queen and to possess that type of power. The problem throughout the story with Macbeth is that he is too ambitious to allow his conscience to stop him from murdering his way to the top and he is too haunted with guilt to be happy with being a murderer. At the end of the play, an army of 10,000 Englishmen ivade Scotland. Macbeth has the choices to kill himself, flee, give himself up, or fight. His emotions and confidence bring him to the decision to fight, even though it was impossible to defeat this army. Macbeth is killed in battle, and ironically, Lady Macbeth is turned insane due to the guilt of the situation that she instigated, and she commits suicide.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton takes place in a fictional town called Starkfield, Massachusetts. Ethan has always wanted to leave the town because of his ambition to explore new places and the harsh living conditions the town brought, such as very cold winters. Ethan is married to his wife, Zeena, who he doesn't love at all, and actually somewhat despises her, but he married her in order to help take care of her after she became very sick. The two decide to get a house maid, and they choose Zeena's cousin, Mattie Silver. Ethan falls hopelessly



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