What are three themes of Macbeth?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


•Ambition can subvert reason.

“From this moment,the very firstlings of my shall be the firstlings of my hand.”  Act IV, Scene 1

•When supernatural powers represent evil, they should be ignored.

“Thou wouldst be great; art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it.” –Act I, Scene 5

•The natural order is disrupted by any upset in the proper order of human society:

“But ‘tis strange! And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, the instruments of darkness tell us truths, win us with honest trifles, to betray’s in deepest consequence.” –Act I, Scene 3

•Appearances do not always reflect reality:

“Accursed be the tongue that tells me so, for it hath cowed my better part of man! And be these juggling fiends no more believed.” –Act V, Scene 8

•Despite prophecies of the future, people are responsible for their own actions:

“By the clock ‘tis day, and yet dark night strangles the traveling lamp. Is’t night’s predominance, or day’s shame, that darkness does the face of earth entomb when living light should kiss it?” –Act II, Scene 4

•Attempts to control the future by overturning the natural order of society are futile:

“Duncan is in his grave; after life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst: nor steel nor poison, malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing, can touch him further.” –Act III, Scene2
mstokes | Student

Macbeth's movement from centrality to isolation is a major theme of the play. This pattern, which is progressive , encompasses the entire play and expresses an essential process in every tragedy; the hero must confront his Karma or destiny.

Macbeth begins the play as a central and admired figure in his society and ends by being totally estranged.

The early sections of the play focus on Macbeth as a hero and a figure of admiration. He is regarded as the saviour of the country. This is evident in the Captain's account of exploits in 1,ii and the king's lavish praise 1,iv,.

The process of isolation begins sometime after this with his dedication to the powers of evil. Even before Duncan's murder Macbeth become isolated from his God in "wherefore could I not pronounce Amen?"

Duncan's murder hastens the process of Macbeths isolation. Malcolm and Donalbain flee him(2,iii,119) and Banquo comments on his state "How now, my lord, Why do you keep alone?" . The banquet scene marks a decisive state in his alienation from his subjects and from his wife. She who has been "dearest partner of greatness" (1,v,10) is reduced to a passive, weary listener. The collapse of this relationship happens shortly afterwards,leaving tha protagonist alone.

The final movement of £,iv has compelling visual images of Amcbeth's separation from his subjects who leave in hasty and abrupt fashion.

The final movement of the play opens with news of growing oppostion to Macbeth and of the intrigue and conspiracy against him. In Act 5, Macbeth's isolation is made explicit in the images of abandonment and lonliness. (5,iii,24ff) "troops of freinds/I must not look to have",(5,iii61) the doctor would abandon him if he could,(5,v,5ff) his troops would desert him if they could , amny have already done so.

He is an exile from the world, friendless and seeing images and apparitions invisible to others:  he is even an exile from the world of daylight as darkness clothes his land.