Macbeth is one of the most eminent and successful tragedies By William Shakespeare. The Macbeth full title is The Tragedie of Macbeth. It is a five-act play and the shortest of Shakespeare’s tragedies. It is thought to have been first performed in 1606. Macbeth is written between 1606-1607 and published in the first folio of 1623. The whole story of the play moves around its major character Macbeth.
The play tells the story of Macbeth, a Scottish general who receives a prophecy from three witches that he will become the king of Scotland. Driven by his ambition and influenced by his wife, Lady Macbeth, he murders King Duncan and usurps the throne. However, his guilt and paranoia lead him to commit more crimes and atrocities, until he is finally defeated by his enemies and killed.
About William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, is widely considered one of the greatest playwrights in literary history. He wrote numerous plays, sonnets, and poems during the Elizabethan era, and his works are renowned for their depth, insight, and universal appeal. Shakespeare wrote a galaxy of tragedies and comedies in his life, including – Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Julius Casar, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Much Ado About Nothing, and many more.
D. H. Lawrence, a great English writer, and poet says about Shakespeare’s work greatness –
“When I read Shakespeare,
I am struck with wonder
that such trivial people should muse
and thunder in such lovely language.”
Characters Of Macbeth
Macbeth – The protagonist and tragic hero of the play. A nobleman and Scottish general who becomes consumed by ambition and greed, leading him to commit heinous acts.
Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s wife, who encourages him to pursue his ambition and take drastic actions to achieve it.
Banquo – A nobleman and Macbeth’s best friend, who becomes suspicious of Macbeth’s actions.
Macduff – A nobleman and antagonist to Macbeth, who ultimately seeks revenge for the murder of his family.
King Duncan – The King of Scotland, whose murder sets off the chain of events in the play.
The Three Witches – Supernatural beings who prophesy Macbeth’s rise to power and his downfall.
Various other characters, such as Malcolm, Donalbain, and minor nobles, who play important roles in the story.
Themes of Macbeth
Ambition – “Macbeth” explores the corrupting influence of unchecked ambition and its destructive consequences. Macbeth’s insatiable desire for power leads him to commit ruthless acts, ultimately resulting in his downfall.
Guilt and Conscience – The play delves into the psychological impact of guilt and the weight of a guilty conscience. Both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are plagued by guilt, leading to their moral and mental deterioration.
Fate and Free Will – “Macbeth” raises questions about the role of fate versus free will in human lives. Macbeth’s actions are driven by his ambition, but also influenced by the witches’ prophecies, leading to the debate of whether his fate was predetermined or a result of his choices.
Appearance vs. Reality – The play explores the contrast between appearance and reality, as characters often hide their true intentions and manipulate others.
This theme is exemplified through the deceptive actions of the witches and the facade that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth present to the world.
Gender Roles – “Macbeth” also touches on gender roles and expectations, as Lady Macbeth defies societal norms of her time by being ambitious and manipulative, challenging traditional gender roles.
Macbeth Story Summary
The play starts with a war that is being fought between Norway and Scotland and in which Scotland won. All the credit for the victory of war is given to Macbeth. Macbeth and Bonque were very faithful generals of Scotland’s king named Duncan. When both Macbeth and Bonque were coming back then they see three sisters who are witches, who prophesy that Macbeth will become Thane Of Cawdor and One day the king of Scotland. They prophesy that Bonque’s son would become the king of Scotland after Macbeth.
Having heard the prophecy of the three witches, both of them were very shocked, and then suddenly the king of Scotland Duncan announces – that he has rewarded Macbeth’s bravery on the battlefield by making him Thane of Cowdar, So the prediction of the witches became true Macbeth immediately fantasizes about murdering Duncan and becoming king, but pushes the thought away. Later that day, Duncan announces that his eldest son Malcolm will be heir to his throne.
Lady Macbeth receives a letter from her husband about the prophecy and Duncan’s imminent arrival. She knows her husband is too kind to follow his ambition and vows to push him to murder Duncan and take the crown that night. Macbeth first resists his wife’s play, but his ambition and her constant questioning of his courage and manhood win him over. That night they murder Duncan and frame the men guarding Duncan’s room.
The next morning, Macduff, another Scottish thane, discovers one can die and raises the alarm. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth pretend to be shocked and outraged. Macbeth murders the guardsmen of Dunaan’s room to keep them silent but Macduff successfully escapes from Scotland. Duncan’s son thinks they may be the next target and flee. Macbeth is made king, and because they ran, Duncan’s sons become the prime suspects in their father’s murder.
Boquo knows the witches’ prophecy so he is suspicious of Macbeth. Macbeth remembers the prophecy that Bonquo’s son will become the king after so he decided to kill Bonquo’s son. Macbeth gives a feast and invites Banquo and many thanes. Macbeth hires two murderers to kill Banquo and his son. In the darkness, Banquo is murdered, but his son ran away from Scotland. At the feast, Macbeth sees Bonquo’s ghost, though no one else does. Lady Macbeth dismisses the feast and tries to calm her husband.
Once again Macbeth visits the three witches to learn more about his fate. They show him three apparitions who tell Macbeth to beware Macduff, but also that can defeat him and that he will rule until Birnam Wood marches to a castle. Since all men are born of women and trees can’t move Macbeth takes this to mean he’s invincible. Yet the witches also confirm the prophecy that Bonquo’s son will one day rule Scotland.
Macbeth sends men to Macduff’s caste to kill Macduff and Malcolm prepares to invade Scotland. When news comes to England of the murder of Macduff’s family, Macduff, weeping vows revenge. While the English and Scottish under Malco march towards Dunsinane, Lady Macbeth begins sleepwalking and Imagining blood on her hands that can’t be washed off. Macbeth has become manic, cruel, and haughtily -many of his men desert Malcom’s side.
In Birham Wood Malcom and his generals devise a strategy to hide their numbers. They cut branches to hold up in front of them. As Macbeth prepares for the siege, Lady Macbeth dies Malcom’s forces appear looking like a forest marching toward the castle. Malcom’s forces quickly capture Dunsinane, but Macbeth himself fights on, mocking all who dare to face him as men born of women. But Macduff reveals that he was ultimately ripped from his mother’s womb. Macduff kills Macbeth, and Malcolm is crowned king of Scotland.
Now we can say that Macbeth is not evil by nature to get he was corrupted or misguided by witches and by his own wife Lady Macbeth. That is why Laday Macbeth is known as the 4th witch of Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth.
In “Macbeth,” Shakespeare portrays the destructive nature of unchecked ambition and the consequences of succumbing to inner darkness. The play delves into the complexities of human nature, exploring guilt, fate, and the corrupting influence of power. Through vivid characters and poetic language, Shakespeare creates a haunting tale of ambition gone awry, showcasing the tragic consequences of human frailty and moral decay. “Macbeth” continues to be studied, performed, and appreciated for its enduring relevance and timeless Literary Work.