List The Adjectives Used in Macbeth Act

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Words: 901 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 901|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Macbeth's Ambition
  2. The Burden of Guilt
  3. The Role of Fate
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare's most renowned tragedies, is filled with a multitude of adjectives that vividly describe the characters and their actions. Through the use of carefully chosen adjectives, Shakespeare effectively conveys the complexity of Macbeth's character, his transformation from a noble and honorable man to a murderous tyrant. This essay will explore the adjectives used in Macbeth Act, highlighting their significance in shaping the audience's perception of Macbeth and his journey. By analyzing the adjectives and their implications, we can gain a deeper understanding of Macbeth's character and the themes of ambition, guilt, and fate explored in the play.

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Macbeth's Ambition

From the very beginning of the play, Macbeth is described using adjectives that highlight his ambitious nature. In Act I, Scene 2, he is referred to as "brave Macbeth" (1.2.16), emphasizing his courage and valor on the battlefield. The adjective "brave" establishes Macbeth as a respected and honorable warrior, setting the stage for his tragic downfall. However, as the play progresses, the adjectives used to describe Macbeth start to change, reflecting his growing ambition and the corrupting influence of power.

In Act I, Scene 3, the witches describe Macbeth as "valiant" (1.3.9) and "worthy gentleman" (1.3.10). These adjectives further reinforce his positive qualities, portraying him as a virtuous and deserving individual. However, it is important to note that the witches' prophecy triggers Macbeth's ambition, planting the seed of discontent in his mind.

As Macbeth's ambition consumes him, the adjectives used to describe him become more negative. In Act I, Scene 7, Lady Macbeth refers to him as "too full o' the milk of human kindness" (1.7.16). This adjective juxtaposes Macbeth's once virtuous nature with his hesitancy to commit the regicide. Lady Macbeth implies that Macbeth's kindness is a weakness, suggesting that he needs to be ruthless in order to achieve his ambitions.

Furthermore, in Act III, Scene 1, Macbeth himself acknowledges his growing ambition when he describes it as "black and deep desires" (3.1.57). The adjectives "black" and "deep" evoke a sense of darkness and depth, emphasizing the sinister nature of Macbeth's desires. This transformation in the adjectives used to describe Macbeth reflects his descent into moral ambiguity and his willingness to do whatever it takes to secure and maintain his power.

The Burden of Guilt

Throughout the play, Macbeth is haunted by guilt, which is reflected in the adjectives used to describe him. After committing the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth is overwhelmed with guilt and remorse. In Act II, Scene 2, he exclaims, "Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?" (2.2.59-60). The adjective "great" emphasizes the enormity of Macbeth's guilt, suggesting that not even the vastness of the ocean can cleanse his hands of the blood he has shed.

In Act V, Scene 1, Lady Macbeth's guilt consumes her as well. She sleepwalks and repeatedly attempts to wash her hands, exclaiming, "Out, damned spot! Out, I say!" (5.1.30). The adjective "damned" reinforces the idea that Lady Macbeth views her guilt as a curse, an indelible stain on her conscience that cannot be removed.

By using adjectives such as "great" and "damned" to describe Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's guilt, Shakespeare emphasizes the overwhelming and inescapable nature of their remorse. The burden of guilt weighs heavily on their minds, leading to their eventual downfall.

The Role of Fate

In addition to ambition and guilt, the concept of fate plays a significant role in Macbeth. The adjectives used to describe Macbeth's interactions with the witches highlight the inevitability of his actions and the influence of fate.

In Act I, Scene 3, the witches greet Macbeth with the adjectives "hail" and "thane of Cawdor" (1.3.49-50). These adjectives foreshadow Macbeth's future, suggesting that he is destined to become the Thane of Cawdor. The use of adjectives in this context implies that Macbeth's fate is predetermined, and his actions are merely a fulfillment of that fate.

Similarly, in Act IV, Scene 1, the witches show Macbeth a series of apparitions. One of the apparitions declares, "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill shall come against him" (4.1.92-94). The adjectives "never" and "until" imply that Macbeth's fate is sealed, and he will not be defeated until a seemingly impossible event occurs.

By using adjectives that emphasize fate and inevitability, Shakespeare suggests that Macbeth's actions are not solely driven by his ambition and guilt but are also influenced by external forces beyond his control. This adds another layer of complexity to Macbeth's character and highlights the play's themes of fate and free will.


The adjectives used in Macbeth Act play a crucial role in shaping the audience's perception of Macbeth and his journey. Through the careful selection of adjectives, Shakespeare conveys Macbeth's ambition, guilt, and the influence of fate. The transformation of adjectives from positive to negative reflects Macbeth's descent into darkness, while adjectives of guilt depict the overwhelming burden that he and Lady Macbeth carry. Additionally, adjectives associated with fate highlight the predetermined nature of Macbeth's actions. By analyzing these adjectives, we gain a deeper understanding of Macbeth's character and the themes explored in the play.

Overall, the adjectives used in Macbeth Act not only enhance the audience's experience but also provide valuable insights into the complexities of human nature and the consequences of unchecked ambition. Shakespeare's masterful use of adjectives serves as a reminder of the timeless relevance and power of his works.

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Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Shakespeare Library, 2012.

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List The Adjectives Used In Macbeth Act. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“List The Adjectives Used In Macbeth Act.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
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