Why is the Shakespearean play "Macbeth" still relevant today?

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coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare’s play ‘MacBeth’ is still relevant to today’s audiences partly because human nature hasn’t changed that much since Elizabethan times. The play’s themes still concern us, guilt, shame, hierarchy, anxiety,paranoia, trauma, distress, mental illness, psychological vulnerability, jealousy, envy, inferiority, manipulation, psychosis, greed and murder - all are sadly present in the societies we watch every night on our news channels. For an essay title based on the relevancy of the drama, it would be worth finding a quote or an instance of each theme, and then trying to match it with an example from current events. Wherever there is hierarchy, there will always be a pecking order and all the gripes, grudges and grumbles that go along with that - we even see it in Shakespeare’s play ‘Othello.’

The foundation storyline of MacBeth  still chimes with our modern audiences today because it is a swashbuckling bloodcurdling story of ambition, and shows the depths to which we humans will sink to get what others have - rights that we want. The audience follows the main character, Macbeth, as he schemes and plots and kills in order to become the new king but as soon as he gets his objective and gets crowned, the audience is gripped as his world crumbles around him and he descends the path of pain that all tragic heroes/victims must follow.

MacBeth is considered a very unlucky play - actors are advised not even to utter the word 'Macbeth' if they aren't onstage actually performing it because there is a legend that there are secret magic lines in it, so it’s cursed. Obviously the curiosity of that ‘fact’ would still be a big draw today.