What would be a good thesis for why Macbeth was a bad leader in Macbeth?
A good thesis is an arguable position that you can defend with multiple pieces of evidence from the text. This is an example that captures Macbeth's poor leadership strategies:
Macbeth is a bad leader because he is not discerning of the counsel he is given.
A standard essay will follow with three body paragraphs explaining how the thesis is displayed in the text. Some papers have more and some have less, but three solid paragraphs will likely defend your argument well, especially with very specific links to the text.
Here are some body paragraph ideas for this thesis:
Macbeth listens to the witches's predictions, which guide his aspirations. The witches deliver several prophesies, and immediately there seems to be some shred of truth in their words. Macbeth evaluates this and comes to this conclusion:
[aside] Two truths are told,
As happy prologues to the swelling act
Of the imperial theme. (I.iii.140-142)
Truly, Macbeth has stumbled across some witches in the woods who refer to themselves as "weird sisters," and because they play into his innermost desires, he takes their counsel. He believes what they say. And this choice to believe the "weird sisters" will guide him to make horrific decisions for the rest of the play.
Macbeth allows his wife to convince him to kill Duncan. He almost has a change of heart, telling his wife that their murderous plans are finished because Duncan has treated him so well. But his wife responds,
Art thou afeard
To be the same in thine own act and valor
As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that
Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting “I dare not” wait upon “I would,
”Like the poor cat i’ th’ adage? (I.vii.43-49)
She knows where to hit him (in his manly pride), and he finds that he cannot stand up to her goading insults. Therefore, he takes his wife's advice and proceeds with his plans for murder.
Macbeth listens to his wife's counsel to display false happiness in order to further their plans. Just before the feast, Macbeth confides that he is tortured by nightmares of what they have done. His wife (hiding her own sense of regret from her husband) tells him,
Come on, gentle my lord,
Sleek o’er your rugged looks. Be bright and jovial
Among your guests tonight. (III.ii.30-32)
Macbeth listens, and he will pay special attention to Banquo, making him feel important. His wife reminds him that the men they seek to murder next can't live forever, and Macbeth agrees with her. So they execute the next series of plans to display false happiness in order to carry out even more destruction.
Wise counsel is important in making decisions, and Macbeth lacks discernment in filtering out the voices he should pay attention to.
Macbeth was a bad leader because he was not interested at all in the needs of the kingdom. He wanted to be king because he wanted power, not because he thought he knew what was best. He put his interests above the people’s, which is a terrible thing for a leader to do.
When you write a thesis statement, you need to be clear and direct and state a specific argument. In this case, you need to say both that Macbeth is a bad leader and give a reason why. Here is an example thesis.
Macbeth is a bad leader because he abuses his power.
You would choose how Macbeth kills Baquo, because now that he is king he does not think he will be caught.
To be thus is nothing,
But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo
Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature
Reigns that which would be fear'd. (Act 3, Scene 1, p. 42)
The fact that Macbeth’s first act as king is to kill one of his nobles is a pretty terrible thing. It shows that he does not care about his people. He does not want to have advisors.
Macbeth is also a terrible leader because he seems willing to kill anyone who crosses him, or whom he suspects of having crossed him. He slaughters Macduff’s entire family. He threatens his men with death if they say things he does not want to hear.
If thou speak'st false,
Upon the next tree shalt thou hang alive,
Till famine cling thee; if thy speech be sooth,(45)
I care not if thou dost for me as much. (Act 5, Scene 5, p. 85)
A good leader should be willing to accept reality, and act on it. Macbeth’s inability to really accept the soldiers coming at him must have cost his own soldiers many lives, if they did not desert him altogether.