A Macbeth, William Shakespeare Essay

September 28, 2015

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A Macbeth, William Shakespeare Essay

William Shakespeare certainly loved his witches. And in Macbeth they almost play a leading role – far more of one than in his other works. In this play, they actually precipitate the horrific events that follow after their encounter with Macbeth and Banquo. And the supernatural becomes a key element in this tragedy, from dreams and hallucinations to ghostly appearances.

While Macbeth is occasionally studied in high school, it is standard fare for any course in English literature in college, because critics see it, along with Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet as, Shakespeare’s most worthy tragedies, with the most universal themes and great motifs.

Typical Macbeth Essay Questions

If you are studying Macbeth at the college level, you will undoubtedly have one or more essay assignments, because there are at least four themes and multiple elements of relationships and characterizations that make this play quite complex, even though the events are basically like a horror film. Here are some Macbeth essay topics that you might want to consider if you have options.

  1. Ambition is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it drives people to achieve great things; on the other hand, it can drive people to do horrible things. Find a modern day example of ambition that has caused terrible public behavior and compare it to the ambition of Macbeth and his wife.
  2. There is a famous saying, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Discuss this saying as it relates to the litany of Macbeth’s crimes as he strives to maintain is power.
  3. Cruelty is not often cited as a theme in Macbeth, but it certainly is there in his killing of Macduff’s wife and children. Discuss a contemporary example of such cruelty.
  4. Who has more ambition – Macbeth or his wife? Support your opinion with dialogue from the play.
  5. A great Macbeth essay would be a comparison of the play with an off-Broadway play, titled MacByrd, which was written and performed after the assassination of President John Kennedy. Transcripts of the play are available for reading.
  6. In what ways does Lady Macbeth manipulate her husband to get him on board with her plans to murder Duncan?
  7. Contrast the ruling styles of Duncan and Macbeth.
  8. What role do the witches play in Macbeth’s tyranny and in his downfall? Do they purposely give him a false sense of security?
  9. How is weather used to intensify the horrific events in the play?
  10. Why do you suppose that Shakespeare wrote all of the murders to occur off-stage? He did not do this with many other plays he wrote.

An essay on Macbeth will not lack plenty of material to discuss. The challenge will be to develop it in a way that meets your professor’s expectations and to try to be creative in your presentation. If you do struggle with topic ideas or development, it would be wise to conduct an online search for some sample essays that may give you some fresh ideas. As well, you might contact an essay writing service for help.