What is the most important theme of Macbeth? Help w/ a thesis stmt? Include what is Shakespeare's view on this issue

Expert Answers
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, the beauty of writing an essay is that you get to write what you think, as long as you can support your view or position from the text.  So, it seems to me the first thing you need to do with Macbeth is decide which major theme you're interested in dealing with.  Two that come to mind are the consequences of having too much ambition, which Macbeth clearly has and suffers from, and the effects of guilt on a person (which is true for both of the Macbeths).  Below I've also included an enotes link with some other possible theme ideas.

Once you've decided on a theme, your job is to think about some reasons you believe it to be true.  For example, if you go with the guilt idea, what are the signs or evidence which show them feeling guilty?  What happens because of that guilt?  Do their feelings of guilt change any of their subsequent behaviors?

Finally, once you decide on your position and the points which will support that position, you can write a thesis.  A thesis, remember, is a statement which capsulizes or summarizes the main theme of your paper.

You can easily do this if you've read the play and start thinking about some of these things.  Happy writing!

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you will read some professional criticisms on this play (there even are some on enotes--see the links below--JSTOR, ERIC, etc.) and you will find an idea that you can elaborate on your own.  For instance, if you are interested in thematic concepts, you may enjoy tracing how many times "fair is foul and foul is fair" in the occurrences of the play.  Or, you can write about some aspect of the influence of the supernatural in Macbeth. Doing some research on the Elizabethan interest and belief in the supernatural should provide you an "angle" or perspective for your essay. (e.g. Why Shakespeare includes so much?)


At any rate, limit your thesis to an idea that you can develop in detail and support thoroughly.  For, it is always better to develop thoroughly an idea than to be superficial with more than one ideas.  Also, try to be original in your approach to your analysis as much as been alread written about ambition, the supernatural, fate, etc.



kc4u | Student

It is difficult to reach a consensus as to what might be the most important issue in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'. I would suggest that you may examine the play as a study in fear/evil/damnation.

It is ironic that the man most widely admired for his boldness and courage in the field of battle becomes a man perpetually haunted by fear. Ambition leads to fear; fear relates to guilt; guilt  cuts deep into conscience; thus an exemplary individual marked for 'fairness', suffers and dies.

'Macbeth' has also been called one of Shakespeare's profoundest visions of evil: evil in the form of the witches' 'supernatural soliciting' as well as the deep-seated evil in the mind of man. It is curious how the evil extrinsic to man connects itself with the evil intrinsic in man.

You may also go for a close study of the play and its protagonist in the light of the Cristian view of Damnation. Try to explore how 'Macbeth' is a story of an exceptional individual's self -damnation.

lit24 | Student

There are at least four important aspects to any play. They are Plot, Characterization, Dramatic Technique, and the Social World. To begin with you must decide which aspect you would like to research and write an article on about the play "Macbeth."

For instance if you decide to write an essay on the plot, a probable thesis statement would be about the unifying theme of ambition which is stated in Act I Sc. 7:

Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself
And falls on the other.

If you wish to concentrate on characterization you could examine how Macbeth the hero is transformed into the villain of the play.

You could also study Shakespeare's stage craft with reference to representing the supernatural on a bare Elizabethan stage.

Finally, you could critically examine the contemporary historical significance of the play by applying  New Historicist principles.