I remember the day in sixth grade when we wrote letters to Santa. We wrote about what we wanted for Christmas, and gave three reasons that explained why we should have it. We were trying to persuade Santa that we deserved the Christmas gift of our choice. After writing that letter, every time someone mentioned persuasion, I thought back to the letter. I thought that I had learned everything there is to learn about persuasion from writing that letter.
After all, what could be more of a learning experience than trying to convince Santa to build me an international space station, and then having the teacher tell me it was very persuasive? After reading and analyzing William Shakespeare’s play, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I now realize that yet again, I understand so much more about persuasion than I used to.
This unit in Language Arts 9 definitely did wonders to teach me about persuasion. Through learning about “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I have come to understand, better, a whole new perspective, or angle, of what persuasion is.
No longer is it a fuzzy idea of a letter to Santa in my head. I have discovered that persuasion is, in fact, a very powerful tool that can help people to achieve many things, both good and bad, and have learned the tips and tricks that make persuasion more effective. Persuasion is convincing others to do what you think. It is a “[p]rocess aimed at changing a person’s (or a group’s) attitude or behavior toward some event, idea, object, or other person(s)… to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination of them”. Before reading Macbeth, I thought that this was all there was to persuasion.
I did not realize that to fully comprehend a definition or idea, I could not just turn to a dictionary for the answer, but had to explore, through different situations and experiences, the significance and effects of persuasion. As a result, I thought that persuasion was simply convincing, to get you what you want. When I heard the word persuasion, things like the letter to Santa, advertisements, political leaders, persuasive essays, and facts to convince my parents to buy me something, came to mind. In earlier studies, that was all it was: writing persuasive essays and designing advertisements.
In life, political leaders persuade people to vote for them, and us children persuade our parents for a pet and a new gaming system or electronics (or at least tried to). As I grew older, with more experiences in life, I saw that collecting donations for an organization or to help others in need is also a common form of persuasion. To me, persuasion was something people did to possibly sway someone’s decision, choices, or opinions, for doing good for the world. I thought persuasion was something that benefited everyone involved in the situation: the persuader, the persuaded, and anyone else affected.
Is persuasion really as wonderful and honourable as the majority of people in today’s society think it is? After reading “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I can see that persuasion isn’t quite as optimistic as I thought it was before. There is a side to persuasion that I previously didn’t know existed. After seeing Lady Macbeth persuade Macbeth to kill the King and the persuasion that led to Banquo’s murder, and both the persuaders’ motives behind it, my views about the morality of cases of persuasion have changed greatly. In 1. 3, we learn that although Macbeth wants to be King, he doesn’t quite want to kill King Duncan to achieve this.
On the other hand, Lady Macbeth is determined to have Duncan killed, but she doesn’t want to commit the murder, herself. To persuade Macbeth to kill Duncan, she accuses Macbeth of being unmanly and a coward, in 1. 7. Macbeth was sitting on the fence of whether or not he should murder Duncan prior to speaking to Lady Macbeth about it, when Lady Macbeth used her persuasive words and insults to pull Macbeth over into the world of treachery. In 3. 1, Macbeth persuades the murderers that Banquo is a bad man that needs to be killed.
Macbeth explained to the murderers many things that Banquo had supposedly done, to persuade the murderers to kill him. The murderers didn’t have any intention of killing Banquo until Macbeth had persuaded them that Banquo needed to be killed. In both these instances in the play, the persuader uses another person or other people to accomplish something immoral they want to be done: murder. I noticed that with this bad type of persuasion, the person or people being persuaded may think that they are also benefiting from their actions, but in reality, the persuader is just using them to achieve what they, themselves, ant. To explain further, Macbeth was led to believe that killing King Duncan had more benefits for him than drawbacks, when really, Lady Macbeth was the one that was more satisfied when the king was killed, because she originally wanted it more. The murderers were led to believe that Banquo was a bad man that was the reason that their families were beggars, so that the benefits of having Banquo dead seemingly outweighed the drawbacks, when actually, Macbeth was the only one who benefited from this deed.
I also realized that persuasion can be very forceful, mentally. It takes away others’ thinking and replaces it with what you want, somewhat comparable to brainwashing. The negative type of persuasion can provide facts and details that are in favour of the subject in question, while withholding the negative parts of the outcome. However, the moral side of persuasion is also represented in the play in 4. 3, when Macduff persuaded Malcolm for the English army to help him in defeating Macbeth, to free Scotland from his horrifying reign.
Because of all of the reasons mentioned above, and these three scenarios in the play, I can now see that persuasion can be a good or bad thing, depending on how people choose to use it. I have also realized that persuasion is a very powerful tool to get others on your side of an issue, and to agree with your opinion. In all three of the scenarios of the play mentioned above, the characters combined a mental idea with physical strength, synergized, to get others to work for them.
Lady Macbeth combined her menacing personality and desire for her husband to be King, with Macbeth’s physical ability; Macbeth combined his thoughts and wants with the murderer’s physical ability; Macduff combined his ideas and needs of Scotland with Malcolm’s power in the English army. This “combining of strength” led to people doing what the persuader wanted to be done. Without persuasion, King Duncan and Banquo would have still been alive, and Macduff still in rein. In short, persuasion is what gets others to do things you can’t do yourself. Persuasion is also something that causes a sequence of actions to occur.
Lady Macbeth’s initial speech of persuasion had a domino effect. One murder (King Duncan) led to the next (Banquo, and the attempt to murder his son, Fleance), which led to the next (Macduff’s wife, children, and the rest of the people in the castle). This first act of persuasion even led to the suicide of Lady Macbeth. Persuasion started this chain of events that soon spiraled out of control. One murder led to many. The downfall and rightful murder of Macbeth led to the whole of Scotland to be freed from his gruesome reign. However, it isn’t just in “Macbeth” that persuasion has such a drastic effect to win the persuader what they wanted.
In the real world today, persuasion is found everywhere. Anyone with a vision of a change they want to see persuades people to help them achieve that vision. For example, raising awareness and collecting donations is a form of persuasion to help a good cause, while persuading friends to do something bad (ie. Bullying, drugs, crimes etc. ) is a form of persuasion for a bad cause. I have learned that all success, whether for a good cause or a bad one, is made possible or made greater when people persuade others to do what they want them to do.
Through reading “The Tragedy of Macbeth”, I have also come to realize how people try to make persuasion more effective. I have learned what works, and what doesn’t. In 1. 7, before Lady Macbeth came to Macbeth, we see Macbeth changing his mind, to not kill the king. When Lady Macbeth came in and tried to convince Macbeth to kill King Duncan, she insulted Macbeth and had a “prove you’re not a coward” or “prove you’re a man” attitude. After this, Macbeth agreed to kill the king. At a later time, when Macbeth persuaded the murderers to kill Banquo in 3. 1, he said to the murderers: Do you find Your patience so predominant in your nature,
That you can let this go? Are you so gospell’d, To pray for this good man and for his issue, Whose heavy hand hath bow’d you to the grave And beggar’d yours for ever? (3. 1. 92-96) Like Lady Macbeth, he was taunting the murderers, to make them angry and want to kill Banquo. After this, the murderers could see Macbeth’s point, and agreed to commit the murder. How do these acts of persuasion relate to persuasion we see for ourselves in life? In real life, when people are trying to persuade others to do things such as steal, they insult and also have a “prove you’re not a coward” attitude, like Lady Macbeth.
They may also taunt others, saying things like, “I bet you wouldn’t be able to… ” or “I bet you’re too much of a wimp to… ” or “look at what they did to you, are you just going to let it go? Go on, go beat him up. He deserves it, anyways”, like Macbeth did. Because the victim of the persuasion doesn’t want to be called a coward, and has been encouraged to do something, he or she will be more likely to commit the crime they are provoked to commit. I remember in social studies this year when in class, we were talking about how people encouraging other students to fight would be just as responsible as the ones involved in the deed.
Because persuasion is such a powerful tool, I now understand better why the persuader would also be in trouble. This has led me to the belief that when people are trying to persuade others to do a bad deed, the persuader has to work against moral values, and hence, insult the person they are trying to persuade in order for them to be persuaded. When watching the movie of the play, I saw that Lady Macbeth’s word choice and expression were important in persuading Macbeth to do what she wanted. She repeated the same ideas over and over to get them through Macbeth’s head, and wouldn’t let the issue go until Macbeth agreed to kill the king.
As with any act of persuasion, for good or for bad, I have realized that word choice, expression, repetition, and persistence are necessary in order for persuasion to occur. To sum it up, insults, word choice, expression, repetition, and persistence are all key elements in being more persuasive. These persuasion skills can help me later in life, so I am glad that I have learned about their effects when different strategies are used. In conclusion, through reading “The Tragedy of Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, I have now gained new understandings of persuasion.
I used to think of persuasion as strictly a dictionary term, but can now see that there is more to persuasion than just that. Before reading “Macbeth”, I could only see the good side of persuasion, as everything I had learned about persuasion told me that persuasion is exclusively good, but I can now see that persuasion can be bad as well as good, and the good side has been as presented in Macduff, while the bad in Lady Macbeth and Macbeth. I have come to see with a wider perspective the power of groups of people when they persuade others to work with them or help them, and have learned techniques in how people make persuasion more effective.
I have come to learn so much more about persuasion, but I realize that there is so much more to learn. Hopefully, when I think about persuasion now, I will be thinking back to the time we studied “The Tragedy of Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, not to the time in sixth grade when we wrote a letter to Santa. And hopefully, I won’t assume again that I have learned everything there is to know about persuasion from this learning experience, but I hope that I will keep open to new ideas as well as experiences I can get about persuasion.
Cite this My Reflection on Persuasion
My Reflection on Persuasion. (2016, Oct 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/my-reflection-on-persuasion/