Submitted to: Mrs. Bucciachio
Course Code: ENG 3U1
Date: Monday, January 23, 2012
William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of his shortest plays, sitting at 765 lines. Along with being the shortest, it is also one his most violent tragedies. It is a story of how greedy and selfish people will always receive justice. The play contains various themes, each related to each other. Three themes found in Shakespeare’s Macbeth are evil, innocence, and revenge. These themes are shown through many characters. Evil is portrayed by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, innocence is shown through Duncan and Lady Macduff, and finally the theme of revenge is depicted by Malcolm and Macduff. The evil that the Macbeths do to the innocent Duncan and Lady Macduff, spark Malcolm and Macduff to take revenge. The main character Macbeth is the strongest example of evil. His three great crimes are things that only an evil man can do. These three crimes are the murder of King Duncan, the murder of Banquo, and the murder of the Macduffs. Macbeth’s first crime, the murder of King Duncan, is the greatest example of Macbeth’s ambition. It shows that Macbeth will stop at nothing to get what he desires, and what he desires in the title of King of Scotland. Macbeth’s desire emerges after his first encounter with the witches. In the meeting, the witches tell Macbeth that he will be crowned king. This sparks the idea in Macbeth’s head, but for that idea to generate, it had to have been there in the first place. This, once again shows Macbeth’s ambition. In Act 1, after Macbeth makes up his mind to kill Duncan, he says something that depicts his evil very well. “I am settled and bend up
Each corporal agent to this terrible feat.
Away, and mock the time with fairest show,
False face must hide what the false heart doth know.” (I:vii:79-82) In this quote, Macbeth is saying that his mind is made up, but that he can’t let his face show his true desires. When discussing evil, one must also mention Lady Macbeth. This is because she was Macbeth’s accomplice in the murder of King Duncan. After his murder, when Macbeth is feeling guilty, Lady Macbeth tells him something that also depicts her evil very well. “A little water clears us of this deed.
How easy is it then!” (II:iii:70-71)
In this quote, Lady Macbeth is telling Macbeth that all you need is a little water to wash away the guilt. She is telling him that once you wash your hands, you will not feel remorse any more. This shows Lady Macbeth’s evil because it shows her as someone who thinks murder is not that big of a deal, and that by simply washing your hands, you will feel guilt no longer. Macbeth’s second crime, the murder of Banquo, is another example of Macbeth’s ambition. In Macbeth’s meeting with the witches, they tell Banquo that his sons shall also be king. Since Macbeth does not want this to happen, he hires murderers to kill his best friend Banquo, and his son Fleance. Banquo is successfully killed, but Fleance escapes. At this point we can see how Macbeth’s evil has changed. He now hires murderers to do the killing because he does not want to get the blood on his hands. Last time he did, he felt great guilt and remorse, and he does not want that again. His third great crime is the murder of Lady Macduff and her children. Macbeth does this out of rage and because Macduff has joined Malcolm’s army to fight Macbeth. Now, we really see how Macbeth’s evil has changed since the murder of Duncan. At first, Macbeth out of sheer ambition, but now, he is just doing it out of an impulsive decision. The slaughter of innocent women and children are a sign to how Macbeth is not the same anymore. His killings now have no reason; he now does it as if it is second nature.
Another theme that is very evident in Macbeth is theme of innocence. The two best examples of innocence are King Duncan and Lady Macduff, who both fell victim to Macbeth’s evil. Duncan was murdered because of Macbeth’s...