Themes Ambition, Fate, Violence, Nature/Unnatural, Manhood
Ambition Macbeth, a good general and, by all accounts before the action of the play, a good man, allows his ambition to overwhelm him and becomes a murdering, paranoid maniac. Lady Macbeth, once she begins to put into actions the once-hidden thoughts of her mind, is crushed by guilt.
Fate By trying to master fate once, Macbeth puts himself in the position of having to master fate always; he becomes unable to see the half-truths behind the witches’ prophecies. By trying to master fate, he brings himself to ruin.
Violence the nature of violence: every violent act, even those done for selfless reasons, seems to lead inevitably to the next. The violence through which Macbeth takes the throne, as Macbeth himself realizes, opens the way for others to try to take the throne for themselves through violence. So Macbeth must commit more violence, and more violence, until violence is all he has left. As Macbeth himself says after seeing Banquo’s ghost, “blood will to blood.” Violence leads to violence, a vicious cycle.
Nature/Unatural connection between the political and natural world: when Macbeth disrupts the social and political order by murdering Duncan and usurping the throne, nature goes haywire.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.
Manhood 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.
Ambition quote Act 1 Sc.3 Macbeth ponders about the witches prophecy Macbeth:”This supernatural solicitingCannot be ill, cannot be good. If ill,Why hath it given me earnest of success,Commencing in a truth? “Macbeth is tempted by his ambition for power however he is still reluctant about the act of killing King Duncan
Violence quote Act 1 Sc.2:A captain enters, covered in so much blood he is almost unrecognizable. The captain tells them of the state of the battle against the invading Norwegians and the Scottish rebels Macdonald and the Thane of Cawdor Duncan: “What bloody man is that?”Just like the captain, Macbeth will be transformed into a monster as he becomes “covered” with the metaphorical blood of those he kills to achieve his ambitions.
Ambition/ Violence quote Act 3 Sc.4 After Macbeth yells at BQ’s ghost; Talks to Lady Macbeth about Macduff Macbeth: “It will have blood, they say. Blood will have blood. Stones have been known to move, and trees to speak.”Macbeth’s desperation to keep power motivates him to visit the weird sisters. He has sacrificed everything for his ambition
Violence quote Act 2 Sc.2 Macbeth enters. He’s killed Duncan and Duncan’s attendants. Macbeth: “Macbeth does murder sleep—the innocent sleep”Bloodstained hands and sleeplessness: symbols of guilt. Macbeth is anguished: he knows the consequences of this murder.
Natural/Unnatural quote Act 2 Sc.3Macbeth enters, pretending to have just woken up. Macduff asks if the King has woken yet: Duncan had asked to see Macduff early that morning. Macbeth points out where Duncan is sleeping, and Macduff goes off to wake him. As they wait for Macduff to return, Lennox describes the terrible storm that raged the previous night and sounded like “strange screams of death”
Natural/ Unnatural quote Act 2 Sc.1 Night upon the death of King Duncan Alone, Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in the air. He can’t grasp it, and can’t decide whether it’s a phantom or his imagination. “Nature seems dead” to him
Fate quote Act 3 Sc.1Macbeth is crowned King; BQ is suspicous BQ:” Thou hast it now: king, Cawdor, Glamis, all,As the weird women promised, and I fearThou played’st most foully for ‘t. “Upon trying to grasp fate Macbeth has fallen in the depths of foulness and BQ suspects it
Fate Quote Act 3 Sc.2 In order to keep power built by violence, more violence is always needed. Macbeth knew this would happen; he’s caught in the vicious cycle of violence “We have scorched the snake, not killed it” (3.2.15). He fears someone might try to kill him as he killed Duncan, and seems envious of Duncan’s “sleep” (3.2.25).
Manhood Quote Act 1 Sc.7Lady Macbeth and Macbeth debate about manhood and courage. She says it’s taking what you want. He says it’s the power to put responsibility before selfishness, the power to not take what you want. Macbeth: “I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more is none” Man knows restraint
Black White- Motif quote Act 2 Sc 2After Murder of Duncan Lady Macbeth: “My hands are of your color, but I shame to wear a heart so white.”
Disease Motif Act 5 Sc.1Lady MB is goin crazy “The disease is beyond my practice.”Refers to mental/moral sickness of guilt
Time Motif Act 1 Sc.5 “Thy letters have transported me beyond this ignorant present”Lady MB is vindictive enough to do anything to secure her future ambitions
Equivocation (the use of ambiguous language to conceal the truth ) Motif Act 1 Sc 1 – the witches witch:”Fair is foul and foul is fair / hover through the fog and filthy air”Ends Justify the means, ironic/ paradox
Baby motif Act 1 sc7 “Pity, like a naked new born babe/ striding the blast, or heavens Cherubins, horse/ tears shall shall drown the wind”
Light/ dark (black and white) motif act 1 sc3 “Stars hide your fires! Let not light see my black and deep desires”

You Might Also Like