Why would Macbeth have had such lasting appeal to theatre audiences?  Why are the characters appealing?  Please give 3 examples.Why would Macbeth have had such lasting appeal to theatre...

Why would Macbeth have had such lasting appeal to theatre audiences?  Why are the characters appealing?  Please give 3 examples.

Why would Macbeth have had such lasting appeal to theatre audiences?  Why are the characters appealing?  Please give 3 examples.

Expert Answers
markchambers1966 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Try Act 4 Scene 1:

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble...

The witches present evil, magic and an appeal that crosses eras. We all love witches and stories abound about them through the ages, anything from 'Hokus Pokus' to Macbeth! The idea of these strange women with their cauldron changing the lives of those around them, can be portrayed in stage and film in all manner of interesting ways.

Then there is the leading characters of Macbeth and his wife and the tension between them as they head toward their destruction. Act 1 scene 7 with Lady Macbeth has all that domestic angst between the two and we get the impression that they may have lost a child in the past, creating the venom of one of Shakespeare's most famous women...

have given suck, and know

How tender 'tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Have pluck'd my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash'd the brains out, had I so sworn As you have done to this...

This character has held theatre audiences enthralled over the centuries, her destruction and sleepwalking equally famous.

Lastly the sheer beauty of the poetry in the verse of Macbeth is another reason for its appeal. It includes many of Shakespeare's most famous and moving lines. One of my own favourite Shakespeare speeches comes from Macbeth as he contemplates what his life has become,

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. ... (Act 5, scene 5)

So these are the reasons for its timeless appeal, murder, violence, passion, ambition and greed all mixed up with supernatural elements and beautiful verse!



drmonica eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I've posted about this before, but it's worth describing again. ;)

When I was in the classroom, my sophomores became wildly engrossed in Macbeth. They were drawn to the concept of guilt and one day they launched a spirited discussion of the song "Guilty Conscience" by Dr. Dre and Eminem, drawing parallels between the protagonist in the song and Macbeth. We also viewed a great but little-known film called Men of Respect, which is a Mafia retelling of the Macbeth plot.

The themes, the characters, and the satisfying administration of justice at the end all contribute to audiences' appreciation of Macbeth

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The themes of famly relationships and manipulation are universal and appeal to all audiences. 

Likewise, everyone is interested in the paranormal.  Otherwise, we wouldn't have TV shows like Haunted History or Ghosthunters today.  The witches have great appeal as do the supernatural forces of the apparitions and fortune telling.

Military conquests also are great attention-grabbers.

kc4u | Student

Macbeth has been a great theatrical success for centuries. The play has been a source of remarkable enjoyment & sensation to the common theatre-goers, as well as a staple for the more thoughtful & critical audiences. Reasons for its success are many; we may briefly refer to some of them:

a) Shakespeare's treatment of the supernatural: the three witches & their queen Hecate along with their rites, song & dance, the strange apparitions, prophecies etc. Creatures of popular imagination/superstition have been made part and parcel of the tragedy of Macbeth. We have a diverse & elaborate presentation of the supernatural in such other forms as the air-drawn dagger & Banquo's ghost. The supernatural is both spectacular & psychological.

b) Theatre in the Soul: By very deft use of dramatic solo-speeches like soliloquies & asides, Shakespeare explores the conflict & tension in the interiors of his characters, especially, Macbeth & Lady Macbeth. Murders, bloodshed, cruelty & violence are there, but such scenes/acts are never sensationalised/melodramatised. The scene of the murder of Duncan, the scene of the banquet, & the scene of Lady Macbeth's sleep-walking are striking examples.

c) Great Pace & the Atmosphere of the Play: The whole of Macbeth runs at a great pace, and almost all its scenes take place in varying degrees of darkness--either natural or unnatural/supernatural--so that darkness becomes a prevailing visual motif contributing to the tragic atmosphere.

Characters are so appealing because they are presented as much from without as from within. Macbeth, Lady Macbeth & even Banquo are complex characters, self-divided & very much subjected to doubts & fears, victors as well as victims. Consider these examples:

1) Macbeth's soliloquy in act1 sc.7--'If it were done when 'tis done..............................' (lines 1-28).

2) Lady Macbeth's soliloquy in act3 sc.2--'Nought's had, all's spent..............................' (lines 5-8).

3) Banquo's soliloquy in act3 sc.1--'Thou hast it now: King, Cawdor, Glamis, all..............' (lines 1-10).

epollock | Student

Macbeth has such lasting appeal because of its universal themes, critically accalimed analysis, and a story that has everything for everyone.

Even if you don't understand anyhting, who does not like violence and gore, and fighting and killing for entertainment.  Everyone loves a good war story.

The language is beautiful and masterful in its range from verse to prose, lowly banter to elevated formality.

The story even has a ghost and witches. The supernatural is an entertainment for all.

And the hero of Macduff fighting the evil Macbeth near the end is a great action sequence to end the story.

I could write a book about it appealing to everyone, but this will suffice, I hope.