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Transcript of Macbeth Themes
•Macbeth and his wife act on their own to fulfill their deepest desires.
•Result of Macbeth’s ambition – begins to overwhelm him and becomes a murdering, paranoid maniac.
•Result of Lady Macbeth’s ambition – she is crushed by guilt.
•Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth want to be great and powerful, and sacrifice their morals to achieve that goal. Fate •From the moment the weird sisters tell Macbeth and Banquo their prophecies, both the characters and the audience are forced to wonder about fate.
•Is it real? Is action necessary to make it come to pass, or will the prophecy come true no matter what one does? Different characters answer these questions in different ways at different times, and the final answers are ambiguous—as fate always is.
•By trying to master fate once, Macbeth puts himself in the position of having to master fate always.
•Ultimately, Macbeth becomes so obsessed with his fate that he becomes delusional: he becomes unable to see the half-truths behind the witches’ prophecies. Violence • To call Macbeth a violent play is an understatement.
• In the process of all this bloodshed, Macbeth makes an important point about the nature of violence: every violent act, even those done for selfless reasons, seems to lead inevitably to the next.
• As Macbeth himself says after seeing Banquo’s ghost, “blood will to blood.” Violence leads to violence, a vicious cycle. Nature and Unnatural •In medieval times, it was believed that the health of a country was directly related to the goodness and moral legitimacy of its king. If the King was good and just, then the nation would have good harvests and good weather. If there was political order, then there would be natural order.
•The unnatural events of the physical world emphasize the horror of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s acts, and mirrors the warping of their souls by ambition.
•The implication is that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, once they’ve given themselves to the extreme selfishness of ambition, have themselves become unnatural. Manhood •Over and over again in Macbeth, characters discuss or debate about manhood: Lady Macbeth challenges Macbeth when he decides not to kill Duncan, Banquo refuses to join Macbeth in his plot, Lady Macduff questions Macduff’s decision to go to England, and on and on.
•Through these challenges, Macbeth questions and examines manhood itself. Does a true man take what he wants no matter what it is, as Lady Macbeth believes? Or does a real man have the strength to restrain his desires, as Banquo believes?
•All of Macbeth can be seen as a struggle to answer this question about the nature and responsibilities of manhood.