Macbeth Copy


  • His plays are masterpieces of psychological realism and depth in drama;
  • Believable characters that show the rich diversity of humanity;
  • Was influenced by classical and Renaissance ideas about the importance of reason and human individualism;
  • Progressed from the attitude of classical (Greek and Latin) tragedies to romances and dramas which hold a humanistic message;
  • The plays are infused with folklore-inspired supernatural elements;
  • Characters are not driven by religious motivations, but by humanistic ones;
  • Presents attitudes that are remote from the conventional Christianity of his time;
  • Characters act out of their free will, they are not fatalistically predestined to a certain fate;
  • Main themes: love, death, immortality (not in a metaphysical sense).

MACBETH (1606)


Genre: tragedy.

The play follows the reasons for which people commit evil acts. The hero is willing to murder to secure his position as king and is destined for destruction and downfall. By the end, an entire family is murdered along with the protagonist.


  • Macbeth’s palace, Dunsinane, Scotland.


Main theme: Ambition

Once he has a taste of power Macbeth doesn’t want to give it up and is willing to kill anyone who could undermine his claim to the Scottish throne. But from the position of king, he ends up putting his own desires before the good of the country and is destroyed by his own ambition.

Other themes:

  • Fate and free will;
  • Power;
  • Versions of reality;
  • Gender;
  • The supernatural;
  • Time;
  • Violence.


On a bleak Scottish moorland, Macbeth and Banquo, two of King Duncan’s generals, discover three strange women (witches). The women foretell that Macbeth will become King of Scotland. Lady Macbeth receives news from her husband about the prophecy and his new title. She vows to help him become king by whatever means are necessary.

Macbeth returns to his castle, followed almost immediately by King Duncan. The Macbeths plot together to kill Duncan and wait until everyone is asleep. They kill the king and leave the bloody daggers by the dead king, just before Macduff arrives. When Macduff discovers the murder, Macbeth kills the drunken guards in a show of rage. Duncan’s sons, Malcolm and Donalbain are blamed for the murder. 

Macbeth becomes King of Scotland but he feels insecure. He murders every nobleman who could threaten his claim to the throne. He is constantly tormented by remorse for his crimes. Macbeth seeks out the witches who say that he will be safe until a local forest named Birnam Wood will march into battle against him. Macbeth begins a reign of terror, slaughtering many, including Macduff’s family. Macduff had gone to seek Malcolm (one of Duncan’s sons who fled) at the court of the English king. Malcolm is young and unsure of himself, but Macduff, pained with the grief of losing his family, persuades him to lead an army against Macbeth. 

Macbeth feels safe in his remote castle at Dunsinane until he is told that Birnam Wood is moving towards him. Malcolm’s army used branches from the forest as camouflage. Lady Macbeth is ridden by guilt and commits suicide. As the final battle commences, Macbeth hears of his wife’s death. Macduff challenges Macbeth and Macbeth submits to his enemy. Macduff triumphs and brings the head of the traitor Macbeth to Malcolm. Malcolm declares peace and goes to Scone to be crowned king.


Characters presented in the analysis of the literary fragment should be adapted to the fragment itself.

  • Macbeth – captain in King Duncan’s army, becomes Lord of Glamis and Cawdor. After the three witches predict that he will become King of Scotland, he lets his ambition overcome his better judgment. In his crimes, he is influenced by his wife’s determination. He commits crime after crime, as he is convinced that is the way to protect his throne, but in the end, he starts to feel ridden by guilt. Throughout the play, Macbeth lets himself be influenced by the witches’ predictions, as these motivate his ambitions.
  • Lady Macbeth – Macbeth’s ambitious wife. She desires power and a social position and she is the one who drives her husband to the murder of King Duncan. At the beginning of the play, she seems to be the stronger one and the more ruthless one in the family. Subsequently, Macbeth becomes a cruel murderer. Lady Macbeth is tormented by guilt because of the role she played in her husband’s transformation. She goes mad and ultimately commits suicide.
  • The Witches – three sisters who use charms and prophecies. They foretell Macbeth that he will become king and this prophecy determines him to murder Duncan and believe that he is immortal. The witches are symbols in the play, and nobody knows much about them, aside from the fact that they are servants of Hecate. They resemble the mythological Greek Fates, who weave the threads of human destinies and remain detached. Oppositely, the witches clearly enjoy toying with and destroying human lives.


The point of view in theatre is usually objective;

It is defined by

  • The characters’ speech;
  • The characters’ gestures and pantomimic movements.

***DO NOT CONFUSE: dramatic point of view is a feature of prose, in which a narrator reports the events of a scene without revealing a character’s thoughts and feelings.


In theatre, the tone can belong to:

  • The author – present in stage directions
  • The characters – present in the characters’ lines.

Author’s tone:

  • Sombre, sinister, and foreboding;
    • The presence of the witches, who open the play and appear several times throughout it creates a sinister and foreboding tone. Also, the murders taking place on stage have the same sinister effect. 

Character’s tone: relevant for characterisation.



  • The nobles talk in unrhymed iambic pentameter (blank verse) – every second syllable is accented in the five iambs rhythmic pattern;
  • The Witches talk in iambic tetrameter (every second syllable is accented in the four trochees rhythmic pattern) and in rhymed patterns;
  • Ordinary people talk in prose (usually about subjects that aren’t appropriate for nobility).


  • At the beginning of the play, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s speeches are energetic and fluent. Towards the end of the play, they use cryptic language;
  • Use of musical tropes (alliteration, consonance, assonance)

If th’ assassination
Could trammel up the consequence and catch
With his surcease success, that but this blow
Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
We’d jump the life to come

  • The witches use paradox, presented as riddles that defy meaning

None of woman born / Shall harm Macbeth” (this paradox later proves to be a foreshadowing, as Macduff was born through caesarean birth and he is the one to kill Macbeth).