Essay Of Macbeth Themes
Ultimately, the play does put forth a revised and less destructive definition of manhood.
In the scene where Macduff learns of the murders of his wife and child, Malcolm consoles him by encouraging him to take the news in “manly” fashion, by seeking revenge upon Macbeth.
The main theme of Macbeth—the destruction wrought when ambition goes unchecked by moral constraints—finds its most powerful expression in the play’s two main characters.
Macbeth is a courageous Scottish general who is not naturally inclined to commit evil deeds, yet he deeply desires power and advancement.
Macbeth, by contrast, brings only chaos to Scotland—symbolized in the bad weather and bizarre supernatural events—and offers no real justice, only a habit of capriciously murdering those he sees as a threat.
As the embodiment of tyranny, he must be overcome by Malcolm so that Scotland can have a true king once more.
Macduff shows the young heir apparent that he has a mistaken understanding of masculinity.
The witches’ prophecies spark Macbeth’s ambitions and then encourage his violent behavior; Lady Macbeth provides the brains and the will behind her husband’s plotting; and the only divine being to appear is Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.In order to test Macduff’s loyalty to Scotland, Malcolm pretends that he would make an even worse king than Macbeth.He tells Macduff of his reproachable qualities—among them a thirst for personal power and a violent temperament, both of which seem to characterize Macbeth perfectly.Malcolm responds: “He’s worth more sorrow [than you have expressed] / And that I’ll spend for him” (5.11.16–17).Malcolm’s comment shows that he has learned the lesson Macduff gave him on the sentient nature of true masculinity.Although he is encouraged by the Witches, Macbeth’s true downfall is his own ambition.Lady Macbeth is as ambitious as her husband, encouraging him to commit murder to achieve their goals.Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband by questioning his manhood, wishes that she herself could be “unsexed,” and does not contradict Macbeth when he says that a woman like her should give birth only to boys.In the same manner that Lady Macbeth goads her husband on to murder, Macbeth provokes the murderers he hires to kill Banquo by questioning their manhood.Arguably, Macbeth traces the root of chaos and evil to women, which has led some critics to argue that this is Shakespeare’s most misogynistic play.While the male characters are just as violent and prone to evil as the women, the aggression of the female characters is more striking because it goes against prevailing expectations of how women ought to behave.