Themes in Shakespeare's Macbeth

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MacBeth is one of the most renowned plays in history, written by famous playwright William Shakespeare. It is a story of betrayal, tyranny, murder and deadly ambition. These four themes make this tragedy a great resource for studying the darker side of humanity, and why we resort to such measures. While studying the play, I gained many insights into humanity, and will highlight three in-depth. Firstly, I saw the negative effects of uncontrolled ambition. MacBeth, the valiant warrior, hero of Scotland and the idol for young warriors, turned into a murderous, despised tyrant. Secondly, I learnt that murder changes people. There are two instances in MacBeth where murder changed the murderer. And thirdly, I learnt that there is no point to being a leader if it is gained by dishonourable actions. When MacBeth became king of Scotland, he was not respected or liked by his people, because of his less than honourable ascent to kingship. Why is uncontrolled ambition such a bad thing? Isn’t ambition a good thing? (Act 1, Scene 4)

“Macbeth: (Aside) The Prince of Cumberland! That is a step on which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, for in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;let not light see my black and deep desires.The eye wink at the hand; yet let that bewhich the eye fears, when it is done, to see.” Like all good things, ambition is great in moderation. There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious, as long as it doesn’t consume you and control your everyday life. Macbeth was happy with his position in life, until three witches turned up and prophesised that he would be thane (lord) of Cawdor, and eventually ascend to the throne. Macbeth didn’t believe the witches at first, but as soon as the witches disappeared, two messengers from King Duncan meet Macbeth and pronounce him thane of Cawdor. He began pondering the possibilities, and sent a letter home to Lady Macbeth, who became over ambitious and started plotting to murder the King. This example is the clearest cut...
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