The Tragedy of Macbeth: Themes of the Story

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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The Tragedy of Macbeth was one of the most iconic plays of all time. It was written with many themes that helped the audience better understand the play and also connect and feel what the play was about. Showing the meanings of the all the senses in the play though the six themes. The two themes that develop over the entire course of the play is the relationship between violence and masculinity and that the guilt haunts the guilty. Throughout the play the theme, the relationship between violence and masculinity was shown very obviously throughout the entire play.

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In the play Macbeth states in Act 1 Scene 7, Bring forth men-children only, For thy undaunted mettle should compose Nothing but males. Will it not be received. Macbeth is stating that Lady Macbeth fearless spirit should create nothing but masculine men because she is so eager for violence. Lady Macbeth thought that if Macbeth acted more bold and violent, it makes him more masculine and strong she states this throughout the whole play whenever he was acting crazy she would question his masculinity. As said in this quotation in Act 1 Scene 7, What beast was’t, then, That made you break this enterprise to me? When you durst do it, then you were a man. In the scene Lady Macbeth in the beginning of the play was calling on the evil spirits to make her into an entire man so she has the ability to be violent. As said in Act 1 Scene 5 by Lady Macbeth Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts unsex me here and fill me from the crown to the top full of direst cruelty. This is the huge overall theme of relationship between violence and masculinity is harshly present in this whole play. To Lady Macbeth this theme is carried with her throughout at first she wanted to be turned into a man to be more violent but towards the end she starts shaming her husband many times, questioning his manhood. The theme the relationship between masculinity and violence was an important part of the play but so was the theme the guilts haunts the guilty.

The theme the guilt haunts the guilty was displayed in Act 1 Scene 3 Macbeth said, If good, why do I yield to that suggestion whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs, against the use of nature?. At this point of the play Macbeth literally can’t believe he is even thinking about commiting murder. The thoughts of hurting another person start to chip away at him, he doesn’t want the guilt to be hanging over his head by the act of commiting murder but over he does the murderous act. Once he finally commits murder, he doesn’t have the feeling of guilt but rather he is in shock at first. After Macbeth had killed Duncan he starts thinking about him all the time in Act 3 Scene 2, In the affliction of these terrible dreams. That shake us nightly. Better be with the dead Whom we to gain our peace have sent to peace Than on the torture of the mind to lie/ In restless ecstasy. Duncan is in his grave. After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst; nor steel nor poison Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing. Can touch him further. In this scene Macbeth was jealous of Duncan due to him being able to sleep peacefully forever when Macbeth himself couldn’t sleep at all. Macbeth wishes that he could go back and switch places with Duncan, the person he killed because he feels bad and the guilt is eating him alive.

Overall there were many themes displayed in the play The Tragedy of Macbeth, the main two themes were the guilt haunts the guilty in many ways throughout the play, and the theme of the relationship between violence and masculinity. These two themes go hand and hand in the play without Macbeth trying to be masculine he wouldn’t be violent and without his violence he wouldn’t be guilty and without the guilt it wouldn’t haunt him. So overall the two themes that were the most prominent and important to the actual were the relationship between violence and masculinity and the guilt haunts the guilty. Without those two themes being a huge roll in The Tragedy of Macbeth the story wouldn’t have the impact it has in the theater world or in the literacy world it does have today.

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The Tragedy of Macbeth: Themes of the Story. (2019, Aug 15). Retrieved from