Literary Analysis

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This is my analysis of the play, "MacBeth" written by Shakespeare.

Submitted: August 06, 2008

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Submitted: August 06, 2008



MacBeth, conceived to be a modern day tragedy was written by William Shakespeare during a time in which tradition met non tradition. This can be exemplified when the play initially begins and MacBeth encounters three witches. The three are not common, an everyday witness of what one normally envisions or meets on a stroll to the market, or a walk through the park. The three witches become a huge part of the storyline, as well as a marked theme that represents common sense vs. ignorance. MacBeth is much like an enchanted fable, complete with the mockery of good versus evil, insecurity versus security and how the lust for power can be the ruination of all that is pleasurable and decent. This literary analysis will discuss the major themes in MacBeth signifying how the end result is not always what one would prefer to be the final adoration of achievement.

One of the most important themes in Macbeth involves the witches’ statement in Act 1, Scene1 that “fair is foul and foul is fair.” (Act 1, Scene 1, Line 10). This introductory quote is quite relevant to the basis of a tragedy, hence missed by most that become closely involved. It becomes known almost immediately that MacBeth has a strong yearning to be king, to be a fine ruler, one instilled with power and peace. What he considers to be fair, soon becomes foul by his hands and his insecurities. Taking the life of Duncan becomes a distinct reality to MacBeth when he is unable to pray for himself and sleep becomes virtually impossible. Unbeknownst to MacBeth, he becomes a pawn in the chess game of evil and distrust, for he is easily molded into believing that the words of three wicked witches are wise, when all-in-all the words become the pathway to his demise. Intertwined within this theme is the creation of internal/external hell. This creation of a place of damnation begins when Macbeth freely converses with the sinister witches. Although they are considered to be the “instruments of darkness” MacBeth insists on taking their advice and thus begins to spiral downward as though their evil is the substance for his very being. (Act 1, Scene 4, Line 124)

A second theme in MacBeth that too is important is that of the tragic hero. MacBeth did not want to kill Duncan but was moved by his wife into believing that the death was a means to which he would become king--he was laying his future and ridding the pathway of debris. In addition, Macbeth begins to suffer internally, which ceases his pleasure concerning his status of royalty. Fear, paranoia, exhaustion and sleeplessness plagued him despite his sovereignty. Not only is MacBeth perceived as a tragic hero, Lady Macbeth also supercedes the role. Unfortunately though her initial courage and daring is not endured because she too is eaten by instinctive remorse, as she deteriorates into a delusional, hapless victim of circumstance. No longer can she hold her head high and waltz around as though she has nothing to hide.

Indecision and acting out irrationally is another theme that can be read in MacBeth, however this theme tends to intertwine with some of the other major themes that the storyline consists of, such as the strain of the crime(s) committed by her husband, per her request, causes Lady MacBeth to break down mentally and physically, until suicide is her only rest of freedom from the sins committed. Readers of this tragedy can easily relate to the pitiable characters of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth, as their story of forbidden desire unfolds and evil takes its course.

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