What is the "order vs disorder" theme in Macbeth?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To discuss the theme of "order versus disorder" in Macbeth, one must first define what order and disorder are.

Order, according to Merriam-Webster is:

1: to put in order : arrange;2 a : to give an order to : command b : destine, ordain <so ordered by the gods> c : to command to go or come to a specified place <ordered back to the base> d : to give an order for <order a meal>; intransitive verb- 1 : to bring about order : regulate; 2 a : to issue orders : command b : to give or place an order

Disorder, again according to Dictionary.com is:

1. lack of order or regular arrangement; confusion: Your room is in utter disorder. 2. an irregularity: a disorder in legal proceedings. 3. breach of order; disorderly conduct; public disturbance.


verb (used with object) 5. to destroy the order or regular arrangement of; disarrange. 6. to derange the physical or mental health or functions of.
Therefore, based upon the above definitions, there are many examples of both order and disorder in Macbeth. Examples of Order: 1. All understand how the rise to the crown is to take place. 2. How Lady Macbeth realizes the order of society and wishes to become male. 3. Before the murder, all is well within the story. Examples of Disorder: 1. The appearance of the witches. 2. The murder of Duncan. 3. Macbeth's insanity. 4. The appearance of the dagger and the ghost. While these examples do not seem to function separately in regard to the theme, it is the pairing of each which creates and defines the theme of order versus disorder in the play. 1. The order of the crown is known, but it is Macbeth's murderous plot which changes the rise to the crown- it happens sooner than expected. 2.  Prior to the murder, Macbeth is seen as a noble man (period of order). After his murderous plot is enacted, he can no longer be seen as noble.