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Shakespeare’s play Macbeth uses a variety of themes that drive the plot of the story. The play Macbeth is about a Scottish General named Macbeth who is presented with a prophecy by the three Witches, stating that one day Macbeth will become the King of Scotland. Overtaken with Ambition and persuaded into action by his wife (Lady Macbeth), Macbeth murders King Duncan, leaving the Scottish throne without a King, for Macbeth to claim for himself and rule over Scotland. These actions then leave both characters battling their guilt and paranoia. In this essay I will be discussing and explaining how these themes are used and incorporated into the story specifically through the characters Macbeth, Lady Macbeth and Malcolm.
The key themes used in Macbeth are Ambition, which is strongly portrayed through Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in their gruelling quest to gain power and control over Scotland, no matter the cost, this showing us to “beware of being overly ambitious”. The moral of this is that power is a dangerous thing, it corrupts and takes control of our own lives. Another major theme used is guilt, which is shown through these characters in the aftermath of these events such as changes to their behaviour, overall well-being and mental state. And lastly, the theme fate is used throughout the play as from the beginning when the prophecy is told readers are forced to think about the idea of it, it is also displayed when Malcolm eventually becomes crowned King of Scotland as he rightfully should, despite the many obstacles and events that tested fate. Using these themes these events are organised in a specific narrative pattern that links them together to create the story.Ambition is displayed in Lady Macbeth and Macbeths desire to rule over Scotland. In This story there was a war Macbeth became the hero to everyone. Later three witches visited Macbeth and Banquo. The witches told them they were destined for greatness. Then king Duncan declared that Malcom his son would be next in line for the throne and the next ruler of Scotland. Macbeth tells his wife Lady Macbeth what the three witches told him and Banquo.
Once Lady Macbeth finds out that Malcom is going to be the next person in line for the throne, she devised a plan to kill king Duncan. She tells Macbeth her plan and tells him he must kill the King and they would blame the servants for the murder. This shows how their overwhelming need to have control and power led them to slowly lose themselves and how the power starts to control them. It started with a selfish attraction to the idea of having that power, to then being told they could, and it was theirs for the taking if they wanted it bad enough, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” (Witches Act 1, Scene 1) and they believed the Witches. Blinded by their own selfish desire they were determined to get what they wanted with no regards to the consequences of their actions and how it affected everyone and everything and it did. This theme contributes to the storyline in many ways and sets the beginning of the timeline for the series of events that take place afterwards which then builds up to the climax of the story, this theme is important because it was what changed Macbeth and Lady Macbeth motivating them to behave in a specific way making them do the things they did such as murdering the king which then starts a chain reaction of small negative events that make up the overall problem of the story. This is important because this first complication initiates the plot twist and dictates how the rest of the story is going to pan out, as the structure of a story relies on the organisation of events in the plot.Macbeth sees a ghostly dagger and kills Duncan, he then proceeds to blame the servants for the murder, the whole kingdom was shocked at the news.
Then Macbeth became king and Duncan’s children left for England and Ireland. Macbeth starts to fear losing his position as king to Banquo, so he hires three murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance, but Fleance lives. Later Macbeth and his wife host a dinner party. During the party Macbeth starts to see the ghost of Banquo at the table. He starts to feel guilty and starts yelling that he can see him. Lady Macbeth tells everyone he’s tired and that they should leave, after the guests leave Macbeth tells her that he saw the ghost of Banquo, she told him he was crazy for saying such a thing. Whilst all of this is going on Macduff is planning a rebellion against Macbeth. Macbeth felt guilt and fear of what he saw so he visited the three witches again. The witches told him three things.
One, “you won’t be killed by a man born of a woman”. Two, “beware Macbeth” and three, “you won’t die until the trees of the forest come to you”. Banquo’s descents are still destined to be great rulers. Macbeth orders the deaths of all Macduff’s family and people, “When our actions do not, our fears make us traitors” (Lady Macduff Act IIII, Scene II). Macduff is away in England with Malcom and hears what Macbeth has done. Lady Macbeth starts to feel guilty as well and starts to imagine her hands covered with blood and is visited by a Scottish doctor (it weeps, it bleeds, and each new day a gash is added to her wounds” (Act IV, Scene III). Macduff and his army are finally coming to take out Macbeth “Blood will have blood” (Act II, Scene II). Lady Macbeth felt so guilty she went crazy and ended up killing herself. The theme guilt is repeated throughout this entire storyline which makes it extremely important. This is a major point because it makes the climax as these feelings of guilt and paranoia are what is driving these characters to continue to make the bad decisions they are making to save themselves, this is where the story has reached its overall complication, where the absolute worst has happened and now it is time to change and resolve the issues. This is where the characters start to heal, and the story starts to focus on the solution of the problem and the outcome of the past events so that the story can finish.Macbeth hears of Lady Macbeths death. And Macduff arrives at Macbeths castle at night camouflaged as trees. Macduff and Macbeth go to war and Macbeth kills young siward son of siward. During the final battle Macbeth and Macduff confront each other and Macbeth is killed by Macduff. And with Macbeth dead Malcom is crowned king of Scotland. This shows that the theme Fate is intertwined in this story in many ways some in words in the story and some more subtle that force the reader to think without them knowing. As mentioned earlier an example of this would be the prophecy at the beginning that triggers the reader to think of Fate and the wonders of it and how it works, this also leads them to guess which direction the story is going to go in, in the form of theories. This encourages them to keep reading as its these subtle hints that make reader want to know more. Other examples of this theme are written within the text such as Malcolm being crowned King of Scotland in the end. This shows the reader that everything happens for a reason and that regardless of the journey that was taken eventually fate is set, as Malcolm is rightfully the next heir to the throne. This was the resolution to the problication of the story that sets everything back on track and in line with the story.
In conclusion the themes Ambition, Guilt and Fate are extremely important as they drive the plot of the story. They get the readers thinking and keep them interested in the text. These are the morals of the story that make up and lead to the sequence of events which are strategically placed to create an entire story, which is also relatable as these themes are experienced and felt by each and every person, these themes are the reasons that this story is so popular and beloved because of how these real feelings have been used and disguised in a made up situation to make it entertaining as well as a life or teaching lesson. The themes affect the characters which affects the storyline, it determines how they are going to act or behave, think and respond or react to a situation. It can change them for the better or for the worst, which dictates whether the story is going to move in a positive or negative direction. Themes determine how the rest of it plays out and creates the story.
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