How is the theme of disorder conveyed in Macbeth?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The theme of disorder is conveyed, in William Shakespeare's Macbeth, in a few different ways. The opening of the play depicts storms ("thunder and lightening"), as the witches introduce the main paradox which exists throughout the play. "Foul is fair, and fair is foul" refers to the fact that everything is not as is seems. This paradox can show the disorder the play will contain--based upon the idea that good cannot be evil and evil cannot be good. This can cause confusion for the audience.

Secondly, the play opens during war. War is disorderly. War is confusing. Therefore, with war upon Duncan's people, the people are probably confused about what could come.

Third, after Duncan's murder, more disorder comes. Although Macbeth takes the throne, others do not believe that he should have it. Malcolm and his brother have fled (fearing for their own lives), leaving Duncan's former people confused about why.

Most poignantly is Macbeth and Lady Macbeth's disorder. Macbeth is slowly going insane ("Is this a dagger which I see before me?") and Lady Macbeth follows suit ("Out Damned spot. Out!"). They possess a more understandable disorder--one of mental illness and guilt.


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