top-rated free essay

Macbeth Themes

By ejml1603 Jan 27, 2013 516 Words
The actions of Macbeth and other characters show that appearances are misleading and Shakespeare created dialogue that constantly incorporates techniques that represent this duplicity. Equivocation is especially found in the line from Act 1 Scene 7: “False face must hide what the false heart doth know." Shakespeare uses repetition of the adjective false to link the appearance of the face and the heart. Macbeth’s facial expression is false as he is acting customary to the routine of everyday life, whilst in fact covering up the guilt of murder. Macbeth’s heart is false as he displays meaningful and authentic sorrow for the death of Duncan, a beloved King, when in fact he is the one who killed him and becomes King as a result. The word false links the face and the heart as aspects of Macbeth’s dishonesty. Another technique Shakespeare uses to create a sense of duplicity is irony, which is evident in the quote from Act 1 Scene 4. “There's no art to find the mind's construction in the face”. This was said by Duncan to his son about the courage of the Thane of Cawdor during his execution. Duncan makes this judgement quite casually and unemotionally, which is ironic for it is this very theory which is proved when Duncan himself is murdered. The irony is used to stress the significance of the issue of deception throughout the play. Superstition also has an underlying role in the play, the cause of Macbeth’s ambition. From the moment the witches prophesise Macbeth’s fate, he has had an irrational interest in their beliefs which has a large effect on his behaviour. One way in which Shakespeare conveys this is through the complexity of their predicting. “Lesser than Macbeth, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none.” Here, Shakespeare uses riddles and paradoxes to confuse Macbeth and the audience by giving vague and opposite ideas about their fate, for example not happy, but happier. This consequently causes Macbeth to dwell on the predictions for much longer than healthy, which eventually turns him mad. Shakespeare also uses Macbeth’s famous soliloquies to convey the power of superstition. An example of this is the soliloquy in Act 2 Scene 1 where Macbeth battles with his conscience to decide whether or not he should kill Duncan. Even though killing the King was such a great atrocity at the time and Macbeth shows the morality of a good man, his thoughts on the witches and superstition eventually conquer and he murders Duncan. These long, frustrating decision-making soliloquys show the true power of superstition as an important theme in the play. There are many significant themes that come out of the play and Shakespeare uses many clever techniques to convey them. Ambition is an important theme and is shown by foreshadowing and personification, whilst duplicity is conveyed with the use of repetition and irony. Paradoxes and soliloquys are also used to convey the effect of superstition on Macbeth. All these clever techniques are very effective in demonstrating the main themes of the play, Macbeth.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Macbeth Themes

    ... “What are the major themes in Macbeth” By Connor Maguire William Shakespeare’s Macbeth a play complete with many themes and viewpoints. The themes are exhibited by the main characters of the play, notably antagonist Macbeth. Themes seen in the play include ambition, where is is portrayed as both dangerous and unnatural. However, it does...

    Read More
  • Theme Of Free Will In Macbeth

    ...The play Macbeth is a tragedy, written by William Shakespeare. Macbeth wanted to become king so bad, that he did not care what he did in order to get what he wanted. He never thought about what he was going to do, he just did it. Throughout the story, Macbeth developed 4 main themes: ambition, free will, fate, and power. Throughout the story, Ma...

    Read More
  • Theme Of Darkness In Macbeth

    ...After King Duncan is murdered by macbeth, we learn from the Old Man and Ross that some strange and "unnatural" things have been going on. Even though it's the middle of the day, the "dark night strangles the traveling lamp," which literally means that darkness fills the sky and chokes out the sun, i.e. an eclipse. Could this be another allusion ...

    Read More
  • Macbeth Act 4 Scene Essay

    ...read Macbeth completely let the importance of the second scene in the fourth act go right over there head. There may be some that don’t realize why it should be recognized more. There are many different reasons to why it is so significant. It is very apparent that Shakespeare wrote it and definitely took the time to actually think about what h...

    Read More
  • Macbeth Theme Analysis

    ...the famous play Macbeth, examines the psychological aspect of crime. He puts forth an interesting notion – that one could be easily shocked by crimes which appear abruptly in their full magnitude, but alleviated by the stratagem of self-deceit, one could be negligent of the gradual growth of one’s own wickedness and corruption as a consequen...

    Read More
  • Theme Analysis: Macbeth

    ...through your own perception. You allow others to do what you let them. In the Book Macbeth by William Shakespeare, Macbeth allows power to corrupt his mind. It badly affects his close friends and the significant people surrounding him. The corruption within Macbeth caused a commitment to evil deeds, guilt, and a host of repercussions. Always sti...

    Read More
  • Theme Of Arrogance In Macbeth

    ...largely contributes to the fall in these leader’s rein, William Shakespeare’s tyrant, Macbeth, being no exception. In famously known play, Macbeth, there are many characters conspired behind his back, however his own fate is all due to his own actions. Although the witches planned to trick Macbeth, his reason for failing, leading to his deat...

    Read More
  • Theme Of Guilt In Macbeth

    ...something about in his/her life. In Macbeth, Macbeth feels guilt over killing Duncan, the king, for his own personal gain to become king. Macbeth’s guilt develops into three main levels. The first being overall guilt and feeling bad, then progressing into madness and delusions, and finally into feeling not much at all for what he has done over...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.