chapter  6
14 Pages

The Future of Violence: Machiavelli and Macbeth

The future of violence is nothing that could be prophesied.1 I do not mean to say that violence would have a future, but rather that a tendency towards the future dwells in it, an unlimited futurity that from the beginning of the modern age advanced as a momentum inherent to modernity and that momentum has become a new, and in the meantime total, type of unlimited violence. Lady Macbeth is not the discoverer of this new violence but its most eloquent agent and theoretician, and Machiavelli, who places the name of her husband in the proper light, is its first and most significant informant. Although the resonance of the names, Mac-lavellus and Mac-beth, could not have been wasted on Shakespeare's pun-obsessed public, it has not incited much significant attention, and the similarities noted between the two, Machiavelli and Macbeth, seem hardly to exceed the commonplace that Macbeth was a theatrical villain for whom the Elizabethan theater had the character-name of "Machiavel."2