What are some examples of tyranny in Macbeth?  Are there any important tyrannical quotes?

2 Answers | Add Yours

teachertaylor's profile pic

teachertaylor | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Certainly there are many acts of tyranny in Macbeth.  Macbeth likes the power that he has and he is driven by his fear that someone will find out that he is guilty of the murder of King Duncan (and later others).  As a result, Macbeth's behavior becomes increasingly tyrannical; for example, in Act 4, Macbeth decides to have Macduff's family murdered because he thinks that Macduff suspects him of foul play.  Macbeth sends his men to murder everyone in the castle including Macduff's wife and son.  This act of tyranny drives Lady Macbeth over the edge when she reflects on the fact that Lady Macduff and her son where completely innocent and did not deserve the brutality inflicted on them. 

teachersage's profile pic

teachersage | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Macbeth himself is the chief tyrant in Macbeth, in contrast to good rulers such as the murdered Banquo, not to mention the English king who is praised for his personal virtues, religious faith and ability to heal illness. Shakespeare shows in this play that a good king is also a person of personal virtue and that personal vice—such as "avarice" and "lust"—leads to tyranny. By crossing the line into murdering his king to achieve his ambitions, Macbeth guarantees he will become a tyrant, shedding more and more blood to hang on to his illegally acquired throne. Macbeth's acts of tyranny include his killing of Macduff's "wife, his babes, and all unfortunate souls that trace him in his line." In fact, we learn that not only his wife and children, but servants and "all that could be found" at his castle are murdered. We learn too that under Macbeth, Scotland has become a dark place where good men "expire before the flowers in their caps." Macbeth's tyranny leads to the evils of civil war and foreign invasion.

Tyranny quotes include the following, all from Act IV, scene 3:

"This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues,/Was once thought honest."

"Boundless intemperance/in nature is a tyranny"

          "Bleed, bleed, poor country!
Great Tyranny! lay thou thy basis sure,
For goodness dares not check thee!"

   "O nation miserable,
With an untitled tyrant bloody-scepter’d
When shalt thou see thy wholesome days again?"


We’ve answered 317,797 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question