AMBITION Macbeth's fatal flaw (hamartia) Manipulated by witches' prophecies - awaken dormant vaulting ambition, encourage and inspire him to murder Duncan Manipulated by Lady Macbeth - what is a man? Main motivation behind his actions Put too much trust in fate Allows ambition to dominate him wholly by committing murder after murder - morality Unchecked ambition can never be fulfilled
"My thought, whose murder is yet but fantastical, shakes so my single state of man" "whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs""Art not without ambition, but without the illness should attend it" (Lady Macbeth) "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition""No man born from a woman will ever defeat you""I am in blood, stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er"
FATE Is action necessary? Should we interfere? Macbeth tries to master fate to make it conform to his desires Becomes obsessed with fate - delusional, brings himself to ruin
"fate and metaphysical aid doth seem to have thee crowned withal" (Lady Macbeth) - fate and the witches have showed that Macbeth deserves to be king, he is practically crowned already"If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me without my stir" - Macbeth briefly decides to let fate go undetermined
DECEPTIVENESS OF APPEARANCE Macbeth and Lady Macbeth display public personas in contrast to the way they conduct themselves privately Witches reveal only partial truths/versions of reality
"Look like the innocent flower, but be serpent under't" - Lady Macbeth counsels her husband to appear innocent and draw people in, while being a poisonous snake lurking beneath waiting to attack its prey"Fair is foul and foul is fair" - what's fair to man is foul to the witches and vice versa"False face must hide what the false heart doth know" - Macbeth agrees with the plan to murder Duncan, they must outwardly hide their secret plans
Additional Quotes"thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man's act" (Ross) "'Tis unnatural, even like the deed that's done" (old man) Natural order has been disrupted through murder of Duncan"Come you mortal spirits... unsex me..." (Lady Macbeth) She wants to be rid of her feminine qualities to inspire Macbeth to murder Duncan
SHAKESPEARE'S CONTEXT Jacobean England 1603-25 Play is darker and more cynical, reflecting insecurities of the time Great Chain of Being (social hierarchy), everything had a position fixed by God King was God's chosen representative on Earth, supreme upholder of order Violation of king's position would bring strife to the world - rebellion against God Fate - life was predestined and controlled by impersonal forces Witches associated with death and darkness, 'agents of Satan' Witchcraft punishable in 1604 Women were restricted and regarded as the possessions of their fathers, then husbands Lady Macbeth challenges gender stereotypes by being the dominant one in the relationship Play questions and examines nature of manhood PLAY CONTEXT Scotland in 1000s Based on Macbeth, a real-life Scottish king who gained the throne in 1040