Themes in Macbeth


Themes in Macbeth that show why he is villainous/ not villainous.
Mind Map by annasc0tt, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by annasc0tt over 9 years ago

Resource summary

Themes in Macbeth
  1. Murder
    1. Banquo's Murder
      1. Macbeth is villainous because he orders Banquo to be murdered even though they are good friends, just because he is worried about his position on the throne being threatened. Shows that friendship means nothing to him, which is villainous. Also, it shows that nothing comes before power for Macbeth
        1. Made up his own mind to kill Banquo and Fleance, without consulting Lady Macbeth- becoming more villainous because he is becoming more ambitious about power, and there are no soliloquys at this time to show his feelings, which shows he is ignoring his conscience more and becoming more ruthless.
        2. Macbeth is not villainous because he orders two murderers to kill Banquo and Fleance, which shows he is cowardly and too scared to face Banquo as he kills him.
          1. He is also cowardly because he is prepared to kill a good friend and his son just because they have been predicted by witches to be a threat to Macbeth's place on the throne.
            1. Not villainous because he cannot kill them himself, which shows he is not bloodthirsty and ruthless- possibly considered cowardly.
            2. On stage because the audience needed to be entertained by action and possible comedy, compared to the king's death which needed to be respectful so was done off stage- creates contrast.
            3. Duncan's Murder
              1. Macbeth is not villainous because he has to be persuaded by Lady Macbeth to go through with the murder, and he seems too scared to go through with it.
                1. The murder is performed off stage due to respect for King James, who would have been to watch the play performed. Shakespeare didn't want the murder to be performed on stage because the fake gore could have been seen as comical, which would have been disrespectful. the death needed to seem significant, important and tragic, because King James I believes in the Divine Right of Kings, so the death can be in no way amusing.
                  1. Macbeth murders Duncan in his sleep, which shows he is cowardly because he wouldn't dare show his face to the king as he killed him. Shows Macbeth feels guilty for his decision to murder Duncan, and he doesn't want the king to see him betray him.
                    1. The king is murdered in his sleep out of respect for the current king at the time, James I. the king could not be killed whilst awake because a struggle between the king and Macbeth, ending in the kings death would make the king seem weak, which would have been disrespectful.
                    2. Macbeth had to be persuaded by Lady Macbeth to go through with the murder, he shows hesitation towards the murder.
                    3. Macbeth is villainous because he decides to kill Duncan, despite the fact that he thinks Duncan is a good king and he likes him.
                      1. When he first hears of the prophecy that he will become king, his thoughts immediately go to how he is going to become king, and thoughts of killing Duncan, which shows that he is villainous. "If ill, Why hath it given me the earnest of success".
                        1. Lady Macbeth persuades Macbeth to go through with the murder, which shows that Macbeth must have had some willingness to do it.
                        2. Dagger vision and soliloquy
                          1. Villainous
                            1. "A dagger of the mind"
                              1. Represents the evil in Macbeth's mind.
                              2. Going through with it- not talking himself out of it.
                          2. Macduff's Family's Murder
                            1. This shows a side to Macbeth that is truly vicious and villainous because he sent murderers to ruthlessly kill Macduff's family for no reason other than that he felt threatened by him and he wanted to send a warning not to try to overthrow him..
                              1. Macbeth does it to show his pride and strength, and as a warning to Macduff not to try and overthrow him.
                                1. It shows Macbeth's villainy even more because it is more gory and because it shows the murder of innocent women and children.
                                2. Macbeth's villainy and violence gets worse and worse throughout the play.
                                  1. On stage to show the gore and violence to make the audience see how villainous Macbeth is , because we see that the people are defenseless and that there was no reason to kill them.
                                    1. Does it after the prophecies, which shows he did it because he felt threatened.
                                  2. Supernatural
                                    1. Dagger
                                      1. The dagger shows the villainy in Macbeth's mind because the dagger points him in the direction of the Kings chamber, and appears dripping with blood. The dagger could be a creation of Macbeth's brain, in which case it shows how villainous Macbeth's thoughts and conscience is. it is pointing towards the king's chamber, which suggests it is encouraging Macbeth, and that he wants to do it.
                                        1. The dagger could be a part of the witch's enchantment, in which case it emphasises the villainy of the witches.
                                          1. Macbeth seems to know that the dagger isn't real, and he thinks he is going mad.
                                            1. "heat oppressed brain"
                                            2. The dagger first appears clean, which suggests that Macbeth is optimistic that he will get away with the murder, or maybe suggests that he has decided against killing Duncan. It then appears with blood, which suggests he has realised the possible consequences of what he is about to do, and he is feeling guilty. The blood also could imply Macbeth's decision to murder Duncan.
                                              1. "And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood"
                                              2. "fatal vision"
                                                1. Implies murder and death.
                                                2. "A dagger of the mind"
                                                  1. The dagger represents the evil in Macbeth's mind.
                                                  2. "The handle toward my hand"
                                                    1. It is inviting Macbeth to take the dagger.
                                                  3. Nature
                                                    1. "Nature seems dead"
                                                      1. Darkness is causing death, Night is when murder happens.
                                                      2. "It was the owl that shriek'd"
                                                        1. The owl is shrieking at Duncan's death.
                                                          1. Disruption of the natural order, representing the killing of Duncan (natural order)
                                                          2. Shrieking at what Macbeth has done- could be showing how Macbeth feels inside about his actions.
                                                            1. Sinister image.
                                                          3. Sleep
                                                            1. " wicked dreams"
                                                              1. When Macbeth is asleep, his feelings of guilt are hidden from himself and others. Now that his sleep is disturbed with nightmares, he can't escape from what he has done.
                                                                1. He is having bad dreams, and he wishes to get away from the guilt but he can't, which suggests a less villainous side to Macbeth because he seems to regret what he has done.
                                                              2. "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! Macbeth does murder sleep', the innocent sleep"
                                                                1. He his hearing voices that tell him that what he has done is wrong. He has murdered Duncan in his sleep, therefore his sleep will be taken from him also, so that there is no escape from the guilt. The voice he heard may have come from his own brain, in which case he could be punishing himself for what he has done, which shoes how guilty he feels- this suggests that Macbeth is not villainous because he is punishing himself because he feels so bad.
                                                                  1. "Innocent sleep" sounds almost like he's apologising for his actions. He realises how innocent Duncan was, which emphasises how villainous he must have been to kill him.
                                                                  2. "The death of each day's life"
                                                                    1. He wishes for sleep, which could suggests he wishes for death, the guilt is consuming him so much.
                                                                  3. Are they visions or really supernatural?
                                                                    1. Supernatural would suggest villainy, i.e the witches. Link to context- witchcraft at the time and the witches are the root of Macbeth's ambition.
                                                                      1. James I was very keen on demonology.
                                                                      2. Visions would suggest guilt, or they could suggest villainy- Macbeth subconsciously thinking about killing Duncan. (When thinking of dagger- villainous, when thinking of ghost- guilty).
                                                                        1. If they were visions, it could suggest villainy because they show Macbeth's conscience and his thoughts, even if he doesn't admit he is thinking them.
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