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Macbeth Essay Thesis Statements, Titles, and Topics

Post your thesis statements by March 25th, along with tentative titles and questions about essay topics. The essay prompt has been posted to Blackboard and you will also submit the final draft of your essay to Blackboard by Friday, April 3rd.

29 thoughts on “ Macbeth Essay Thesis Statements, Titles, and Topics ”

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For my thesis, I would like to explore and analyze Lady Macbeth’s character and the development of her character throughout the play. I was thinking of looking into whether her development was largely influenced by Macbeth’s prophecy or if her character was the one to influence how Macbeth’s prophecy came to be. I’m having trouble wording if but I have a thesis to work from: In this essay, I will analyze Lady Macbeth’s character progression and whether or not a connection exists to Macbeth’s prophecy.

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Kyla, go for it! I think you should focus on Lady Macbeth’s monologues in Act One, Scene Five and Act Five, Scene One.

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Can I get Your thesis

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Potential thesis: Although many blame the witches and their prophecies for Macbeth’s ill fate, it is actually his own fault. If Macbeth did not believe the witches’ prophecies, he probably wouldn’t have tried to control his “fate” which ended as a tragedy.

This is a great thesis and opens a lot of pathways for interpretation. You’ll have to explain why you put “fate” in scare quotes, as it suggests that you don’t believe fate is a major factor in the play. If you can do that, you’ll likely produce a lively discussion. Look to the debate on free will between Martin Luther and Erasmus in the “Contexts” section of the Norton Critical Edition.

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I was thinking about using the idea of tyranny and masculinity for my thesis, such as other thanes or princes want to overthrow MacBeth because they felt that he was acting tyrannical. Lady MacBeth says she wants to unsex herself when she decides to kill Duncan and Malcolm tells MacDuff that he is “unknown to woman, never was forsworn” so it seems that being a man reinforces the right to kill someone. A rough thesis would be: MacBeth is right to be overthrown because he is acting tyrannical, and Malcolm will be a better king because he’s the son of King Duncan and he’s more manly than MacBeth.

Petvy, I think you’re onto something with the problem of tyranny in Macbeth. It’s not immediately clear how you could tie that in with the distortions of maculinity in the play in only four to five pages, so I’d suggest focusing on either tyranny or masculinity (or its corruption). In either case, you have to talk about why Macbeth becomes a tyrant: it has a lot to do with the ways he interprets the prophecies from the witches, who represent (along with Lady Macbeth) grotesque distortions of femininity.

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Macbeth’s actions throughout the play are an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. He believes what the witches tell him about his fate and becomes intoxicated by the possibility of achieving power, which is the reason he commits all those evil acts and pays the ultimate price for it in the end, not because he is simply fulfilling his destiny.

This is promising, Ilya! Pick two or three scenes to focus on in your reading of Macbeth’s response to the prophecies.

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Throughout the novel, there are many symbols used to depict evil. Light and darkness are amongst the most common ways to show that light is good and dark is bad. In a more analytical approach, we can see that without the light Macbeth is in the dark for too long and causes him to become blind to goodness. From the beginning, all that has been described to be dark or involved in darkness have affected Macbeth into becoming corrupt and mad, such as the ‘midnight’ witches and the absence of the candles that Lady Macbeth so persistently carried towards the end. A working thesis for me would be how the use of light and darkness ultimately affected/foreshadowed that Macbeth would become corrupted and even guilty for the actions he had taken.

Karyna, it’s important to remember that a novel is a certain genre of writing. Macbeth is a play. Jane Austen’s Emma (which we’ll read in a few weeks) is a novel.

Classifications aside, the light/dark theme in the play is a big topic with lots to think about. Can you narrow it down to certain things that happen in light versus in darkness? For instance, Macbeth worries that he’ll never be able to sleep soundly again after he murders Duncan. Is there something to be said about the imagery juxtaposing darkness with sleeplessness brought on by guilt?

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Possible Thesis:

Darkness, concerning dusk, exceeds its function as a mere setting characteristic by acting as a symbol of foreboding. Approaching darkness (nightfall) mentioned as a setting descriptor is often followed by nefarious or immoral actions, such as murder.

I am most likely going to change the topic I’m writing on. If I’m unable to fully rationalize my thoughts for the other topic I had in mind, I’ll fall back onto this original thesis.

Cory, try and find a few passages where a character describes or reacts to the darkness. I’m wondering if the Porter might be a good character to look to. Banquo’s murderers might also be worth discussing. As for major characters, there are plenty who present responses to darkness, especially in Act II. And maybe there’s a parallel between the pervasive darkness in the play and Scotland’s peripheral position in relation to England. Scotland is a grim, wild, foul-weathered place: any parallels between the setting of the play and the qualities of darkness espoused in it?

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The circumstances that surround Macbeth’s rise to power allude to an evil power. The witches were written into this play during Shakespeare’s time where hysteria took precedent. Despite Shakespeare’s time being different from Macbeth’s time, there is still an emphasis on morality and what is considered to be a ‘sinful’ act or righteous. The presence of witches and prophecies may have been used to let the audience understand the meteoric rise of Macbeth was not truly ‘good’ or ‘righteous’. The witches are shown to be malevolent, and Macbeth’s association with these otherworldly figures notions towards an unjust claim to power. These allusions to an evil power include the stress on the number 3, which is known to represent evil and unholiness. For example, there are three witches, three roles that Macbeth takes on, and three prophecies.

Sounds great, Chiara! There are some materials in the back of the Norton Critical Edition pertaining to the witches (Hecate in particular). Ian McKellen’s interview might be a good place to start.

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In this paper I will argue that Macbeth’s endless ambition overpowers fate and his destiny is brought by his own free will.

Good thesis, Jordan. Discuss the claims about predestination and free will made by Martin Luther and Erasmus. Their essays are in the supplementary materials of the Norton Critical Edition of Macbeth.

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Psychology and subjective reality are prominent themes in Macbeth; Banquo’s ghost, the floating dagger, voices, and blood spots are only imagined by Macbeth as he unravels throughout the play. Lady Macbeth’s insomnia and hand-washing shows the psychological effect the murders have had on her. In the end, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth are both perpetrators of their own demise; they actively seek to fulfill Fate and in turn are plagued by their own minds.

Mary, these are great passages to focus on for your thesis. I like the insinuation you’re making here: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth try to manipulate Fate, but all they end up doing–over and over again beginning with the murder of Duncan–is speed up its process.

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This is amazing, I am doing something similar to your thesis and took some ideas from yours thank you!

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Thesis: Throughout the play, Macbeth’s actions and decisions that he’s made seem to show an underlying sense of fear that fuels them. Fear can be controlling and influential on human beings and can sometimes dictate the path of their lives, all of which can be said for the character of Macbeth. From the witches’ prophecy to the various murders he orchestrates, fear is used as a motivator within Macbeth to commit unspeakable actions and as a result, drove him into losing touch with his sense of sanity and reality, slowly becoming unhinged at the hands of fear.

Very good, Lanz! Highlight passages where a character implies or specifically mentions being afraid (or conversely, feeling courageous).

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Potential Thesis Statement: By doing the wrong thing cause of greed, power, and other influences( In this case the witches) can often lead to negative outcomes, bad results, situations to become worse, and anxiety. This is what I’m thinking about using as a thesis statement, but still a little unsure. Sorry for the late response I thought the other Macbeth post was the forumn where I was suppose to write our blog response/thesis for the Macbeth essay originally.

Tayyab, this is an interesting general statement to make in relation to the events of the play, but maybe just focus on Macbeth’s and Lady Macbeth’s responses to the witches’ prophecies. This way, you’ll have a coupe of very specific scenes towards which you can direct your close reading. As a bonus, you don’t have to spend time and energy wondering about the moral of the story. Focus instead on what the characters say and do and how and what these words and actions mean within the world of the play. Look to the supplementary materials in the back of the Norton Critical Edition for more guidance, and let me know if you have further questions.

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My thesis will be about self perception and it’s connection to the choice that people believe they are supposed to make. In the case of MacBeth, he heard a prophecy and his self perception changed from being a thane to a king. Really late response but I couldn’t think of anything original til now.

Aiden, reorient your thesis to avoid making generalizations about “people.” Focus only on how self-perception troubles the characters in Macbeth, particularly as it pertains to what certain characters believe about fate versus free choice. Look to the essays by Luther and Erasmus on this topic for guidance.

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For my second essay I plan to move forward to investigate Lady Macbeth’s psychosis. There’s much to analyze when it comes to Lady Macbeth’s behavior and speech. However, I’m afraid I’ve chosen a topic that is too big for a four to five-page essay. Should I focus on a specific act or scene for the essay? Additionally, I’m having difficulty wording my thesis. This is what I have so far …

In Macbeth, Lady Macbeth is an unconventional female character, who possesses a dangerous ambitiousness and ruthlessness to help Macbeth become King of Scotland. Her character encourages Macbeth to commit an evil act and unleashes something within hi. As more cruel murders take place, Lady Macbeth becomes unrecognizable through her anxious and erratic behavior.

I feel like I’m not really making a claim but just summarizing her character development in the play. Any suggestions or ideas are greatly welcomed!! Thank you!

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Thesis: In Macbeth, his aligned actions had played to his rise and his downfall, which only proved that determinism took control of the entirety of Macbeth’s life and the world around him. 

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128 Macbeth Essay Topic Ideas & Examples

🏆 best macbeth topic ideas & essay examples, 👍 good essay topics on macbeth, 📌 most interesting macbeth topics to write about, 👍 good research topics about macbeth, ❓ macbeth essay questions.

Writing an essay on Shakespearean tragedies may be tricky for some students. There are a lot of ideas to put in your paper, and that may puzzle you. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide on how to write Macbeth essay.

Macbeth is a tragedy by William Shakespeare based on the true story of Scottish king Macbeth. The play tells us about a Scottish general who heard a prophecy from a trio of witches and decided to bring predictions to fulfillment. This is a drama about the jeopardy of excessive lust for power and betrayal of friends.

Some researchers state that William Shakespeare adopted the plot from Holinshed’s Chronicles, a popular history of England, while others argue that the plot of the play was borrowed from George Buchanan. Before you start your Macbeth essay, you should do thorough research on facts and fiction around the play.

To give you ideas on how and what to write in your essay, check the tips below:

  • Check our Macbeth essay samples to acquire knowledge on characters: Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, Banquo, Malcolm, Macduff, Three Witches, and others. Each character is unique, and it’s quite easy to write a paper on each of them. Make a meticulous analysis of each of them, if you decide to write an essay on Macbeth characters. Use dialogues and monologues as supporting arguments to your ideas.
  • In your Macbeth essay introduction provide readers with the thesis statement and a summary you’re going to discuss in the paper. Specify what exactly you will depict or analyze. Sometimes, you may need to write the intro after you finish the body and already have done an in-depth analysis of text and critique materials.
  • When writing body paragraphs, describe the essay topic in detail. Start each section with a short statement, provide a supporting quote, explain it, and make a conclusion. You can always analyze IvyPanda Macbeth essay titles to learn various points of view on each character and event.
  • In the Macbeth essay conclusion, reiterate a topic and your analysis. You should not only summarize the information you’ve gathered and analyzed in the paper body. You have to get back to the intro and provide clear and extensive answers on the questions you raised. Try not to leave any further questions for your readers. Here’s the secret: some professors read the conclusion first. So make it persuasive and give a complete portion of information.

You may be wondering how to use essay examples that you may find on our website. It is super easy. First of all, look through the titles to get some topic ideas.

Then, look through the sample and learn how to create your outline. Think about what you can write in your essay. Check the bibliography: there you can find useful sources for the research.

Indeed, any paper on Shakespeare’s play may concern a variety of topics. So check out our Macbeth essay examples and think of the topics which you can choose.

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  • A Musical Analysis of “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare
  • What Did Macbeth’s Character, Words, and Actions Show About Changes in His Character?
  • Who Are the Women in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?
  • When Power Falls Into the Wrong Hands in “Macbeth”?
  • Why Are the Period and Place Important in “Macbeth”?
  • What Makes William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” a Pessimistic Play?
  • How Ambitions and Immoral Decision Play a Part in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?
  • How and Why Does Macbeth Turn a War Hero Into an Evil Murderer?
  • Did the Three Witches Push Macbeth to Kill Duncan?
  • What Are the Attitudes Towards Gender Can Be Seen in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?
  • What Part Does the Supernatural Play in “Macbeth”?
  • Was Macbeth Responsible for His Downfall?
  • Does Shakespeare Present Lady Macbeth as Good or Evil?
  • Can One Feel Pity for Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?
  • What Dramatic Techniques Are Used in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”?
  • How Did Lady Macbeth and Macbeth’s Relationship Change Throughout the Play?
  • What Did Macbeth Say About Good and Evil?
  • Does Shakespeare Present Lady Macbeth as Fiend-Like?
  • Does Macbeth Have Power?
  • How Did Macbeth Turn From “Nobel Macbeth” to “A Bloody Butcher”?
  • What Does Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” Have to Say About Kingship?
  • Did Macbeth Suffer From Fate?
  • What Are the Character Traits of Lady Macbeth?
  • Does Macbeth Have Free Will?
  • What Are the Influences of the Witches’ Prophecies on Macbeth’s Actions?
  • How Are the Themes of Appearance and Reality Presented in “Macbeth”?
  • How Are Characters Presented as Disturbed in “Macbeth”?
  • Was Macbeth Considered the Tragic Hero of the Play?
  • How Did Lady Macbeth and Witches Change?
  • What Are the Differences and Similarities Between “Medea” and “Macbeth” Plays?
  • What Factors Lead Macbeth to Kill Duncan?
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IvyPanda . "128 Macbeth Essay Topic Ideas & Examples." December 1, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/macbeth-essay-examples/.

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GCSE Macbeth thesis and model paragraph - Macbeth's ambition

GCSE Macbeth thesis and model paragraph - Macbeth's ambition

Subject: English

Age range: 14-16

Resource type: Worksheet/Activity

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Literary Theory and Criticism

Home › Drama Criticism › Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth

By NASRULLAH MAMBROL on July 25, 2020 • ( 0 )

Macbeth . . . is done upon a stronger and more systematic principle of contrast than any other of Shakespeare’s plays. It moves upon the verge of an abyss, and is a constant struggle between life and death. The action is desperate and the reaction is dreadful. It is a huddling together of fierce extremes, a war of opposite natures which of them shall destroy the other. There is nothing but what has a violent end or violent beginnings. The lights and shades are laid on with a determined hand; the transitions from triumph to despair, from the height of terror to the repose of death, are sudden and startling; every passion brings in its fellow-contrary, and the thoughts pitch and jostle against each other as in the dark. The whole play is an unruly chaos of strange and forbidden things, where the ground rocks under our feet. Shakespear’s genius here took its full swing, and trod upon the farthest bounds of nature and passion.

—William Hazlitt, Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays

Macbeth completes William Shakespeare’s great tragic quartet while expanding, echoing, and altering key elements of Hamlet, Othello, and King Lear into one of the most terrifying stage experiences. Like Hamlet, Macbeth treats the  consequences  of  regicide,  but  from  the  perspective  of  the  usurpers,  not  the  dispossessed.  Like  Othello,  Macbeth   centers  its  intrigue  on  the  intimate  relations  of  husband  and  wife.  Like  Lear,  Macbeth   explores  female  villainy,  creating in Lady Macbeth one of Shakespeare’s most complex, powerful, and frightening woman characters. Different from Hamlet and Othello, in which the tragic action is reserved for their climaxes and an emphasis on cause over effect, Macbeth, like Lear, locates the tragic tipping point at the play’s outset to concentrate on inexorable consequences. Like Othello, Macbeth, Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, achieves an almost unbearable intensity by eliminating subplots, inessential characters, and tonal shifts to focus almost exclusively on the crime’s devastating impact on husband and wife.

What is singular about Macbeth, compared to the other three great Shakespearean tragedies, is its villain-hero. If Hamlet mainly executes rather than murders,  if  Othello  is  “more  sinned  against  than  sinning,”  and  if  Lear  is  “a  very foolish fond old man” buffeted by surrounding evil, Macbeth knowingly chooses  evil  and  becomes  the  bloodiest  and  most  dehumanized  of  Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists. Macbeth treats coldblooded, premeditated murder from the killer’s perspective, anticipating the psychological dissection and guilt-ridden expressionism that Feodor Dostoevsky will employ in Crime and Punishment . Critic Harold Bloom groups the protagonist as “the culminating figure  in  the  sequence  of  what  might  be  called  Shakespeare’s  Grand  Negations: Richard III, Iago, Edmund, Macbeth.” With Macbeth, however, Shakespeare takes us further inside a villain’s mind and imagination, while daringly engaging  our  sympathy  and  identification  with  a  murderer.  “The  problem  Shakespeare  gave  himself  in  Macbeth  was  a  tremendous  one,”  Critic  Wayne  C. Booth has stated.

Take a good man, a noble man, a man admired by all who know him—and  destroy  him,  not  only  physically  and  emotionally,  as  the  Greeks  destroyed their heroes, but also morally and intellectually. As if this were not difficult enough as a dramatic hurdle, while transforming him into one of the most despicable mortals conceivable, maintain him as a tragic hero—that is, keep him so sympathetic that, when he comes to his death, the audience will pity rather than detest him and will be relieved to see him out of his misery rather than pleased to see him destroyed.

Unlike Richard III, Iago, or Edmund, Macbeth is less a virtuoso of villainy or an amoral nihilist than a man with a conscience who succumbs to evil and obliterates the humanity that he is compelled to suppress. Macbeth is Shakespeare’s  greatest  psychological  portrait  of  self-destruction  and  the  human  capacity for evil seen from inside with an intimacy that horrifies because of our forced identification with Macbeth.

Although  there  is  no  certainty  in  dating  the  composition  or  the  first performance  of  Macbeth,   allusions  in  the  play  to  contemporary  events  fix the  likely  date  of  both  as  1606,  shortly  after  the  completion  and  debut  of  King Lear. Scholars have suggested that Macbeth was acted before James I at Hampton  Court  on  August  7,  1606,  during  the  royal  visit  of  King  Christian IV of Denmark and that it may have been especially written for a royal performance. Its subject, as well as its version of Scottish history, suggest an effort both to flatter and to avoid offending the Scottish king James. Macbeth is a chronicle play in which Shakespeare took his major plot elements from Raphael  Holinshed’s  Chronicles  of  England,  Scotland  and  Ireland  (1587),  but  with  significant  modifications.  The  usurping  Macbeth’s  decade-long  (and  largely  successful)  reign  is  abbreviated  with  an  emphasis  on  the  internal  and external destruction caused by Macbeth’s seizing the throne and trying to hold onto it. For the details of King Duncan’s death, Shakespeare used Holinshed’s  account  of  the  murder  of  an  earlier  king  Duff  by  Donwald,  who cast suspicion on drunken servants and whose ambitious wife played a significant role in the crime. Shakespeare also eliminated Banquo as the historical Macbeth’s co-conspirator in the murder to promote Banquo’s innocence and nobility in originating a kingly line from which James traced his legitimacy. Additional prominence is also given to the Weird Sisters, whom Holinshed only mentions in their initial meeting of Macbeth on the heath. The prophetic warning “beware Macduff” is attributed to “certain wizards in whose words Macbeth put great confidence.” The importance of the witches and  the  occult  in  Macbeth   must  have  been  meant  to  appeal  to  a  king  who  produced a treatise, Daemonologie (1597), on witch-craft.


The uncanny sets the tone of moral ambiguity from the play’s outset as the three witches gather to encounter Macbeth “When the battle’s lost and won” in an inverted world in which “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” Nothing in the play will be what it seems, and the tragedy results from the confusion and  conflict  between  the  fair—honor,  nobility,  duty—and  the  foul—rank  ambition and bloody murder. Throughout the play nature reflects the disorder and violence of the action. Opening with thunder and lightning, the drama is set in a Scotland contending with the rebellion of the thane (feudal lord) of Cawdor, whom the fearless and courageous Macbeth has vanquished on the battlefield. The play, therefore, initially establishes Macbeth as a dutiful and trusted vassal of the king, Duncan of Scotland, deserving to be rewarded with the rebel’s title for restoring peace and order in the realm. “What he hath lost,” Duncan declares, “noble Macbeth hath won.” News of this honor reaches Macbeth through the witches, who greet him both as the thane of Cawdor and “king hereafter” and his comrade-in-arms Banquo as one who “shalt get kings, though thou be none.” Like the ghost in Hamlet , the  Weird  Sisters  are  left  purposefully  ambiguous  and  problematic.  Are  they  agents  of  fate  that  determine  Macbeth’s  doom,  predicting  and  even  dictating  the  inevitable,  or  do  they  merely  signal  a  latency  in  Macbeth’s  ambitious character?

When he is greeted by the king’s emissaries as thane of Cawdor, Macbeth begins to wonder if the first predictions of the witches came true and what will come of the second of “king hereafter”:

This supernatural soliciting Cannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill, Why hath it given me earnest of success Commencing in a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor. If good, why do I yield to that suggestion Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair And make my seated heart knock at my ribs, Against the use of nature? Present fears Are less than horrible imaginings: My thought, whose murder yet is but fantastical, Shakes so my single state of man that function Is smother’d in surmise, and nothing is But what is not.

Macbeth  will  be  defined  by  his  “horrible  imaginings,”  by  his  considerable  intellectual and imaginative capacity both to understand what he knows to be true and right and his opposed desires and their frightful consequences. Only Hamlet has as fully a developed interior life and dramatized mental processes as  Macbeth  in  Shakespeare’s  plays.  Macbeth’s  ambition  is  initially  checked  by his conscience and by his fear of the unforeseen consequence of violating moral  laws.  Shakespeare  brilliantly  dramatizes  Macbeth’s  mental  conflict in near stream of consciousness, associational fashion:

If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly. If th’assassination Could trammel up the consequence, and catch With his surcease, success: that but this blow Might be the be all and the end all, here, But here, upon this bank and shoal of time, We’d jump the life to come. But in these cases We still have judgement here, that we but teach Bloody instructions which, being taught, return To plague th’inventor. This even-handed justice Commends th’ingredients of our poison’d chalice To our own lips. He’s here in double trust: First, as I am his kinsman and his subject, Strong both against the deed; then, as his host, Who should against his murderer shut the door, Not bear the knife myself. Besides, this Duncan Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been So clear in his great office, that his virtues Will plead like angels trumpet-tongued against The deep damnation of his taking-off, And pity, like a naked new-born babe, Striding the blast, or heaven’s cherubin, horsed Upon the sightless couriers of the air, Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye That tears shall drown the wind. I have no spur To prick the sides of my intent, but only Vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself And falls on the other.

Macbeth’s “spur” comes in the form of Lady Macbeth, who plays on her husband’s selfimage of courage and virility to commit to the murder. She also reveals her own shocking cancellation of gender imperatives in shaming her husband into action, in one of the most shocking passages of the play:

. . . I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me. I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this.

Horrified  at  his  wife’s  resolve  and  cold-blooded  calculation  in  devising  the  plot,  Macbeth  urges  his  wife  to  “Bring  forth  menchildren  only,  /  For  thy  undaunted mettle should compose / Nothing but males,” but commits “Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.”

With the decision to kill the king taken, the play accelerates unrelentingly through a succession of powerful scenes: Duncan’s and Banquo’s murders, the banquet scene in which Banquo’s ghost appears, Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking, and Macbeth’s final battle with Macduff, Thane of Fife. Duncan’s offstage murder  contrasts  Macbeth’s  “horrible  imaginings”  concerning  the  implications and Lady Macbeth’s chilling practicality. Macbeth’s question, “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?” is answered by his wife: “A little water clears us of this deed; / How easy is it then!” The knocking at the door of the castle, ominously signaling the revelation of the crime, prompts the play’s one comic respite in the Porter’s drunken foolery that he is at the door of “Hell’s Gate” controlling the entrance of the damned. With the fl ight of Duncan’s sons, who fear for their lives, causing them to be suspected as murderers, Macbeth is named king, and the play’s focus shifts to Macbeth’s keeping and consolidating the power he has seized. Having gained what the witches prophesied, Macbeth next tries to prevent their prediction that Banquo’s descendants will reign by setting assassins to kill Banquo and his son, Fleance. The plan goes awry, and Fleance escapes, leaving Macbeth again at the mercy of the witches’ prophecy. His psychic breakdown is dramatized by his seeing Banquo’s ghost occupying Macbeth’s place at the banquet. Pushed to  the  edge  of  mental  collapse,  Macbeth  steels  himself  to  meet  the  witches  again to learn what is in store for him: “Iam in blood,” he declares, “Stepp’d in so far that, should Iwade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er.”

The witches reassure him that “none of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” and that he will never be vanquished until “Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill / Shall come against him.” Confident that he is invulnerable, Macbeth  responds  to  the  rebellion  mounted  by  Duncan’s  son  Malcolm  and  Macduff, who has joined him in England, by ordering the slaughter of Lady Macduff and her children. Macbeth has progressed from a murderer in fulfillment of the witches predictions to a murderer (of Banquo) in order to subvert their predictions and then to pointless butchery that serves no other purpose than as an exercise in willful destruction. Ironically, Macbeth, whom his wife feared  was  “too  full  o’  the  milk  of  human  kindness  /  To  catch  the  nearest  way” to serve his ambition, displays the same cold calculation that frightened him  about  his  wife,  while  Lady  Macbeth  succumbs  psychically  to  her  own  “horrible  imaginings.”  Lady  Macbeth  relives  the  murder  as  she  sleepwalks,  Shakespeare’s version of the workings of the unconscious. The blood in her tormented  conscience  that  formerly  could  be  removed  with  a  little  water  is  now a permanent noxious stain in which “All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten.” Women’s cries announcing her offstage death are greeted by Macbeth with detached indifference:

I have almost forgot the taste of fears: The time has been, my senses would have cool’d To hear a nightshriek, and my fell of hair Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir As life were in’t. Ihave supp’d full with horrors; Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts, Cannot once start me.

Macbeth reveals himself here as an emotional and moral void. Confirmation that “The Queen, my lord, is dead” prompts only the bitter comment, “She should have died hereafter.” For Macbeth, life has lost all meaning, refl ected in the bleakest lines Shakespeare ever composed:

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

Time and the world that Macbeth had sought to rule are revealed to him as empty and futile, embodied in a metaphor from the theater with life as a histrionic, talentless actor in a tedious, pointless play.

Macbeth’s final testing comes when Malcolm orders his troops to camoufl  age  their  movement  by  carrying  boughs  from  Birnam  Woods  in  their march toward Dunsinane and from Macduff, whom he faces in combat and reveals that he was “from his mother’s womb / Untimely ripp’d,” that is, born by cesarean section and therefore not “of woman born.” This revelation, the final fulfillment of the witches’ prophecies, causes Macbeth to fl ee, but he is prompted  by  Macduff’s  taunt  of  cowardice  and  order  to  surrender  to  meet  Macduff’s challenge, despite knowing the deadly outcome:

Yet I will try the last. Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff, And damn’d be him that first cries, “Hold, enough!”

Macbeth  returns  to  the  world  of  combat  where  his  initial  distinctions  were  honorably earned and tragically lost.

The play concludes with order restored to Scotland, as Macduff presents Macbeth’s severed head to Malcolm, who is hailed as king. Malcolm may assert his control and diminish Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as “this dead butcher and his fiendlike queen,” but the audience knows more than that. We know what  Malcolm  does  not,  that  it  will  not  be  his  royal  line  but  Banquo’s  that  will eventually rule Scotland, and inevitably another round of rebellion and murder is to come. We also know in horrifying human terms the making of a butcher and a fiend who refuse to be so easily dismissed as aberrations.

Macbeth Oxford Lecture by Emma Smith
Analysis of William Shakespeare’s Plays

Macbeth Ebook pdf (8MB)

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You are at: Book Reports According To Book Title Articles The Tragedy Of Macbeth Book Review

Macbeth book review.

Macbeth Book Info

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a famous play written by William Shakespeare who needs no introduction in English literature. The play was written in tragic genre. It was written in 1606, in England and got published in 1623.

Macbeth Setting

The places shown in the play are Scotland and England and the timeline is eleventh century.

Macbeth’s characters

  • Lady Macbeth
  • King Duncan
  • Weird Sisters
  • Lady Macduff
  • Young Macduff
  • Young Siward
  • King Edward

Macbeth thesis statement of main Characters

There is a brief thesis statement introduction to the main characters of the Macbeth book.

  • Macbeth: Macbeth is a Scottish nobleman and Thane of Glamis, later becomes Thane of Cawdor. Hearing the weird sisters’ prophecy, he then murders the King Duncan and becomes the king of Scotland.
  • Lady Macbeth: Lady Macbeth, wife of Macbeth, urges her husband to murder the king Duncan and become the king himself. She thinks that after becoming the queen, she will no longer be guilty conscience. But it doesn’t happen, and she falls into lunacy and anguish.
  • Banquo: Banquo is Macbeth’s friend a Scottish general and nobleman. He has a son named Fleance. The three witches predict that Banquo will not, but his inheritors rule Scotland. Banquo’s ghost haunts Macbeth after Macbeth gets him murdered.
  • Macduff: Macduff is a Scottish nobleman and the Thane of Fife. He has a wife, Lady Macduff, and three children. He puts forth Scotland’s welfare ahead of his own family. He vows to take revenge against Macbeth when he finds that Macbeth has his family killed.

Macbeth Summary

Norwegians, in alliance with Scottish rebels attack Scotland. The Scots shield their homeland. One Scotsman in particular, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, make a distinction during war.

After the battle, Macbeth and Banquo happen to see three witches who foretell that Macbeth will happen to be “Thane of Cawdor”, and finally the King. They further predict that Banquo’s successors will become kings.

They don’t believe the witches, but later find that the old Thane of Cawdor is a traitor who helps the Norwegian. Ultimately Macbeth becomes Thane of Cawdor for his bravery in battlefield.

Now Macbeth fancies murdering Duncan and becoming king, but he abandons the evil thought.

Duncan announces his eldest son to be heir to the throne. Duncan also decides to have celebration at Macbeth’s castle of Inverness.

Lady Macbeth receives a letter from Macbeth about the prophecy and Duncan’s arrival. She convinces him to assassinate Duncan and announces his being the new king the same night. Macbeth refuses to accept it but then agrees because of his ambitions.

They kill Duncan same night and trap Duncan’s room the guardsmen. Next morning, Macduff, a Scottish thane, finds out Duncan’s dead body inform others.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth act as if they were shocked. Macbeth also kills the guards of Duncan’s room to silence them charging them of king’s murder. Duncan’s sons flee for the fear of being the next targets but become suspects of their father’s murder.

Macbeth crowned as the king. But Banquo suspects Macbeth of king’s murder since he is aware of the witches’ prophecy. Now Macbeth considers Banquo as a danger because the witches’ prophecy revealed that Banquo’s line would reign as kings.

Macbeth announces a feast and invites many thanes including Banquo. He also hires two contract killers to murder Banquo with his son Fleance on the way. The hired killers take life of Banquo, but Fleance runs away.

At the feast, only Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost. Macbeth’s awkward behavior and Banquo’s murder create suspicion among all thanes.

Macduff declines to appear at the royal court and leaves for England to support Malcolm raise army against Macbeth.

Macbeth goes to three witches to find more about his forthcoming life. They show him three spirits who inform Macbeth to stay alert against Macduff, but also warn that no “man born of woman” can beat Macduff and he will rule until Birnam Wood marches to Dunsinane. The witches also authenticate the prophecy that Banquo’s line will one day rule Scotland.

Macbeth orders some men to kill Macduff’s family. When the news reaches to Macduff, he vows revenge. In the meanwhile, Malcolm leads the English and Scottish toward Dunsinane.

Lady Macbeth becomes victim of sleepwalking. She also has visions of blood on her hands that can’t be washed off.

Macbeth becomes frenzied, malicious, and arrogant. Many of his men move to Malcolm’s side.

In Birnam Wood, Malcolm and his generals cut branches to and shield themselves to hide their number.

Lady Macbeth dies when Macbeth prepares for the cordon. Her death makes everything meaninglessness to him.

Malcolm’s forces swiftly get hold of Dunsinane. Macbeth keeps fighting and finally Macduff kills Macbeth.

Malcolm is declared to be the new King of Scotland. He vows to restore everything that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth corrupted in Scotland.

Macbeth Themes

Macbeth themes can be explained as the following:

  • Nature and the Unnatural
  • Corrupting Power
  • Kingship and Tyranny

Macbeth Quotes

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what is a good thesis for macbeth

Macbeth Essays

There are loads of ways you can approach writing an essay, but the two i favour are detailed below., the key thing to remember is that an essay should focus on the three aos:, ao1: plot and character development; ao2: language and technique; ao3: context, strategy 1 : extract / rest of play, the first strategy basically splits the essay into 3 paragraphs., the first paragraph focuses on the extract, the second focuses on the rest of the play, the third focuses on context. essentially, it's one ao per paragraph, for a really neatly organised essay., strategy 2 : a structured essay with an argument, this strategy allows you to get a much higher marks as it's structured to form an argument about the whole text. although you might think that's harder - and it's probably going to score more highly - i'd argue that it's actually easier to master. mainly because you do most of the work before the day of the exam., to see some examples of these, click on the links below:, lady macbeth as a powerful woman, macbeth as a heroic character, the key to this style is remembering this: you're going to get a question about a theme, and the extract will definitely relate to the theme., the strategy here is planning out your essays before the exam, knowing that the extract will fit into them somehow., below are some structured essays i've put together., macbeth and gender.

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Persuasive Essay About Macbeth

Macbeth persuasive essay

Table of contents:

  • General idea
  • Hook/thesis

As you are looking into writing an essay on Macbeth, there are many directions you can take it and different elements of the play you can discuss as topics. The role of Lady Macbeth as the true villain of the story is always a good angle to go for, or you can argue that Macbeth is more of a tragic hero than a true villain, or you could write an essay on the folly of ambition, using Macbeth as an example.

Your introduction should start with a hook getting your readers’ attention, something shocking or interesting that will draw them into the case you’re about to make. Then set out your thesis. This is probably the most important sentence you’re be writing in your persuasive essay. Don’t be wishy-washy, make it bold and decisive.

Hook and thesis examples

Hook & Thesis: Is there truly free will, or is our fate already set for us? The answer is somewhere in between, for our ambitions and our passions may drive us, but it is our choices that show us who we truly are.

Hook & Thesis: “There’s no fate but what you make,” says the Terminator, and he was right. Macbeth’s fate is his own fault in the end, and he had a dozen different chances to stop, to do what was right, and spare himself from ultimate disgrace and death, but he didn’t turn back at any one of them.

The body of the essay is the place where you prove your points. Make each point individually. It may help to make an outline for this part of your essay. Then provide evidence backing up your points. You should have at least three in total before you even think about drawing to a conclusion.

Your conclusion should not necessarily present anything new to your audience. Instead, briefly go over the points you made. They are your last chance to convince your audience of what you’re saying, so it’s important that your summary is succinct and forceful. Remember the old adage to tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you told ‘em ? Exactly like that, and that’s the best persuasive essay help you’ll ever hear.

Follow up the summary of your points with a request that the reader take some action, even if it’s just to think about your topic differently. Your conclusion should allow the reader to agree in their mind with you, and the action which you ask them to take should be practical and reasonable, something they can actually do. Here’s a few examples.

Conclusion examples

Conclusion: In summary, Macbeth was hard-headed, dangerously ambitious, and only lost his nerve long after it was too late. His wife was no better, but she didn’t push him anywhere he wasn’t initially willing to go. Macbeth’s fate was entirely just and he doesn’t deserve sympathy. Think about this: the Scottish play doesn’t have any heroes, only villains of one stripe or another.

Conclusion: It’s easy to judge Macbeth, but remember, all of this was foretold. His fate played a part in what happened to him, though, of course, he also made those choices which sealed it. Macbeth is a figure of tragedy and should be looked to as a warning of what might happen if you let your pride and ambition run unchecked.

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

Cite this Scribbr article

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McCombes, S. (2023, August 15). How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/thesis-statement/

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Other students also liked, how to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples, how to write topic sentences | 4 steps, examples & purpose, academic paragraph structure | step-by-step guide & examples, what is your plagiarism score.

Mr Salles Teaches English

what is a good thesis for macbeth

Kingship in Macbeth

(a grade 8 essay, improved to grade 9).

what is a good thesis for macbeth

Hi again Mr Salles - I hope you are well,

Here is an essay I have written on the theme of kingship, tyranny and natural order.

If you have a spare few minutes, please let me know what mark this would get and how I can improve it to get full marks :)

Shakespeare cleverly crafts the themes of kingship/tyranny/natural order through the devolution of Macbeth. By contrasting morality and corruption within Macbeth and Banquo, Shakespeare cautions against ambition and associates it with the supernatural - a very disturbing idea for the contemporary audience, contributing to Shakespeare’s overall purpose of trying to flatter King James I and warn the nobility against rebellion.

Shakespeare constructs Banquo as a foil to Macbeth by illustrating their contrasting reactions to the same evil force - the supernatural and temptation. Banquo represents the route that Macbeth chose not to take: the path where ambition does not lead to betrayal and murder. Thus, it is Banquo’s ghost, rather than Duncan’s, that haunts Macbeth and conveys to the contemporary audience that restraint will lead to a fruition of power as Banquo’s lineage stays on the throne for the longest.

The witches’ equivocation: “ Lesser than Macbeth, and greater ” paradoxically suggests the drastic difference between Banquo and Macbeth, foreshadowing character development as the witches' prophecies come true. Banquo will never be king, but he does father a line of kings. Macbeth, on the other hand, will become the King of Scotland which is commendable in terms of the Divine Order; Macbeth’s reign of power will be one of selfishness and greed as he fulfils his cruel desire for power, eliminating all obstacles that stand in the way of his kingship.

As a result, Macbeth holds the shorter end of the stick in this paradox, facing paranoia, insomnia, guilt, and a tragic demise, therefore proving its accuracy. Here, Shakespeare is flattering King James I, as he was descendant of Banquo and Fleance, in order to gain his trust and potentially patronage for his theatre. This also helps Shakespeare later in the play when he subtly warns James I not to be repressive and tyrannical in his rule.

Shakespeare ensures Banquo isn’t perfect as he is tempted on some level by the Witches’ prophecy, but his ability to reject evil is what makes him a moral character and an antithesis to Macbeth. He is less able to resist temptation when he sleeps “ I dream’d of the three weird sisters last night ”, but instead of trying to hide this, he confesses to God and asks for help in remaining moral and virtuous.

This references the Bible as Jesus was tempted three times by the devil and resisted: perhaps Shakespeare is attempting to draw parallels between Banquo and Jesus which would have been largely impactful to a Christian contemporary audience, further warning about the devastating consequences of temptation and tyranny by contrasting this with the holy and biblical ideas associated with resistance to temptation and ambition.

Shakespeare demonstrates how the acquisition of power invokes an irreversible change in character, subverting the audience’s expectations as he implies that a person’s poor qualities are amplified by the crown and personal desire - Macbeth becomes paranoid.

In the beginning of the play, Macbeth is conveyed as the epitome of a loyal and quintessential Scottish soldier when the captain recalls Macbeth’s noble actions as he “ carv’d the passage ” of the traitor Macdonwald. Specifically, the emotive verb “ carv’d ” carries strong connotations of combative expertise and nobility. Alternatively, it could allude to him carving his name famously in the beginning of the play and eventually notoriously at the end of the play, foreshadowing his drastic moral decline. The stark contrast between Macbeth murdering an enemy of the king (which would be seen as an enemy to God due to the Divine Right of Kings believed by the contemporary audience) and when he commits regicide - the ultimate sin.

Shakespeare explores the consequences of usurpation - for the nation it is a nightmare; an illegitimate king can only become a tyrant, using ever greater acts of violence to maintain his rule. However, Shakespeare is careful to emphasise how the tyrant himself suffers at his own hands - violence traumatises the violent person as well as the victims. Macbeth ‘ fixed [Macdonwald’s] head upon our battlements ’. The head is symbolic as a motif of Macbeth’s declining heroism. First he is at his moral peak as he beheads the King’s enemy, effectively God’s enemy in the eyes of the contemporary audience, then after having his moral endurance tested in the form of ‘ supernatural soliciting ’ he goes out to commit regicide, losing all virtue. Finally, Shakespeare uses this motif to highlight the negative consequences to his audience as the ‘head’ foreshadows Macbeth’s later disgrace as his own head becomes described as ‘ the usurper’s cursed head’ that is reminiscent of his previous morality before he was corrupted by ambition and the witches’ prophecies.


Shakespeare forces his audience to question whether the unlawful act of treason has a supernatural urge, whether there are malign witches and demonic forces working against the moral bonds of mankind. Macbeth’s growing inclination towards ‘supernatural soliciting’ leaves him in a perplexed self-questioning state " why hath it given me earnestness of success/commencing in a truth ?” Linguistically, the sibilance of ‘ supernatural soliciting’ is deliberately used by Shakespeare to raise his audience’s alarm, given the satanic connotations and reference to devastating sorcery in the form of ‘soliciting’.

Likewise, Macbeth’s rhetorical question is used by Shakespeare to create a self-doubting, unstable and malevolent fallacy created by the engagement with the ‘agents of the dark’.

This repeated motif of the supernatural was especially significant to a contemporary Christian audience as witches were believed to be women who made a pact with the Devil, but it also would have especially attracted the interests of King James I - Macbeth was first performed to him and his courtiers. James I hated witchcraft and wrote Daemonologie - a book about the supernatural. Here, Shakespeare is flattering the king by incorporating his interests into his play and is also warning the nobility who were unhappy with James as king at the time by suggesting their desire to overthrow James I was manipulated into existence by the supernatural and witches.

Mr Salles Teaches English is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and to get top grades, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

This is a very ambitious title – normally you would have just kingship or tyranny set as the question. And then you are going to make it even more ambitious by introducing the supernatural!

This has led to a very convoluted thesis – having at least 3 ideas is excellent, but it has to make sense. You could simplify this:

Shakespeare contrasts the characters of Macbeth and Banquo to caution against ambition. Unchecked ambition is associated with the supernatural, which allows Shakespeare characterise ambition as inherently evil. Macbeth becomes a tyrannical king because he welcomes “supernatural soliciting.” The focus on the supernatural also contributes to Shakespeare’s overall purpose of trying to flatter King James I and warn the nobility against rebellion.

Notice how I have structured this differently in order to make one point at a time.

If you would like to learn from the rest of my marking, consider becoming a paid subscriber.

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Ambition & Guilt: Great Essay Introduction for Macbeth

Table of Contents

Do you want to write an essay introduction for Macbeth ? This article covers the play’s major themes to help you write a compelling essay.

Macbeth is a tragedy that tells the story of a Scottish nobleman who becomes obsessed with his own ambition to rule. It also showcases the repercussions of the actions he takes to get there.

The themes of Macbeth, which range from ambition to guilt, help to explain why it is regarded as one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. Macbeth’s themes and underlying ideas add layers of significance to this excellent work of literature.

An Overview of the Play “Macbeth”

“Macbeth” is a tragedy by William Shakespeare that shows how the main character, Macbeth, goes from being a war hero to a murderous villain. Beginning as the thane of Glamis, Macbeth progressively advances to the position of King of Scotland.

The higher Macbeth progressed along his path to power, the more corrupt and evil he grew in the process. Macbeth’s character shift drives the whole theme of this play.

How to Write an Essay Introduction for Macbeth

An introduction paragraph is your opportunity to introduce the reader to the play and the main . Some other points to include in your introduction paragraph are the setting, conflict, and protagonist. Make sure you also introduce the protagonist’s main goal and the conflict that is central to the story.

When writing an essay on Macbeth, make the introductory sentence provocative to draw the readers in.

Also, avoid beginning your introduction with a quote, no matter how tempting it may be. If you must quote, consider paraphrasing as an alternative. You’ll get plenty of opportunities to use quotations throughout the essay.

gray eyeglasses placed on a opened book on brown panel

Understanding the Major Themes in Macbeth

Macbeth is a tragedy that dramatizes the psychological effects of unchecked ambition.

Loyalty, guilt, innocence, and fate all center on the notion of ambition and its consequences. The play, Macbeth, has some major themes in the play which are as follows:

Macbeth’s ambition turned out to be his tragic flaw. It lacks morality which ultimately leads to Macbeth’s downfall. Two things fueled his desire. The Three Witches’ prophecy states that not only would he rule Cawdor as thane but also as king. More significantly, the attitude of Macbeth’s wife, who mocks his assertiveness and manliness and actively orchestrates her husband’s deeds.

But Macbeth’s ambition quickly gets out of hand. He believes his authority is in danger to the point where it can only be maintained by killing his perceived enemies. Ambition ultimately leads to the downfall of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. He loses the battle and is beheaded by Macduff, while Lady Macbeth kills herself due to insanity.

Macbeth features numerous instances of loyalty. Macbeth is a valiant general at the beginning of the play. King Duncan rewards Macbeth with the title thane of Cawdor after the original thane betrayed him and allied with Norway. However, once Duncan names Malcolm as his heir, Macbeth concludes that to become the king himself, he must assassinate the king.

Shakespeare’s loyalty and treachery dynamic is demonstrated once more as Macbeth betrays Banquo, his noble best friend, out of paranoia. Although they were allies in battle, Macbeth recalls the witches’ prophecy that Banquo’s descendants would one day rule Scotland once he becomes king. Then, Macbeth decides to get him killed.

After discovering the king’s death, Macduff, who suspects Macbeth, goes to England. He teams up with Malcolm there, the son of Duncan, to plot Macbeth’s demise.

Appearance and Reality

Near the close of act I, Macbeth already has plans to kill Duncan. Macbeth then tells him, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”

Similar to this, the witches’ statements—such as “fair is foul and foul is fair” subtly manipulate reality and appearance. Their prophecy that no child “of woman born” can defeat Macbeth is proven false. This was when Macduff revealed that he was born by Caesarean section.

Also, the witches assured that Macbeth would not be defeated until “Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him.” It was considered unnatural, as a forest would not climb a hill. But in reality, it meant soldiers cutting trees in Birnam Wood to get closer to Dunsinane Hill.

Fate and Free Will

If Macbeth hadn’t followed his violent path, would he have become the king? This question raises the issues of fate and free will. He was appointed thane of Cawdor shortly after the witches predicted that without him doing anything to earn the position.

The witches predict Macbeth’s future and his fate. But Macbeth exercised his own free will in killing Duncan, and he planned the other assassinations after Duncan’s death. The same is true of the other visions the witches conjure for Macbeth. He interprets them as a sign of his invincibility, but they actually foretell his demise.

Macbeth is a tragic play about human lack of control and choice, the seeming inevitability of destiny, and adherence to nature. An introductory essay for Macbeth would analyze that it is one of Shakespeare’s early tragedies driven by ambition, loyalty, guilt, and fate. This article gives a quick overview of Macbeth and the major themes of the play.

Ambition & Guilt: Great Essay Introduction for Macbeth

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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