Dr Mark’s Meaning in a Nutshell

William Shakespeare, Macbeth (c. 1606) | Play 

William Shakespeare, Macbeth (c. 1606)

William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth (c. 1606) is a tragedy set in medieval Scotland where the tragic hero, Macbeth, who is initially characterised as a knight who is courageous and loyal to his king, is corrupted by a fatal flaw in his character, ambition.  This leads him to consort with evil beings (the witches) and to resort to unethical actions, like assassination, to achieve and maintain power.

After becoming king, Macbeth’s conscience plagues him to a degree that he gains little pleasure from his accomplishments.  Meanwhile, his paranoid insecurity and chronic anxiety lead him to commit further assassinations in pursuit of a security in high office that is paradoxically undermined by these assassinations.

Eventually, his commitment of ruthless assassinations, along with his cruel, unjust governance, weaken his authority and generate the forces of opposition that rally against him to commit the righteous acts of vengeance that destroy him.

Macbeth is shown to have paid the price for having meddled with evil spirits and of having attempted to control fate instead of allowing it to transpire.  The play suggests that Macbeth would have been better off had he left fate alone.  Macbeth’s tragedy can be read as a warning about the dangers of involvement with the occult and in consorting with evil beings.

In addition, Macbeth also paid the price for his unethical and ultimately unsustainable approach to politics that saw him use assassination as his principal means for attaining and maintaining high office.  However, despite his initial success, this methodology eventually curtailed his tenure as it was shown to inspire the righteous anger of good men who banded together to bring down the king whom they regarded as a tyrant.  In addition, since Macbeth governed by using fear, he had few, if any, people willing to stand by him when he was threatened by rebels and needed support.  In this sense, the play provides a lesson in effective kingship and politics.

Subject: Macbeth meaning, Macbeth themes, Macbeth analysis, Macbeth notes

Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez, Private Tutor

The purpose of the concise notes of Dr Mark’s The Meaning in a Nutshell is to provide much needed help to students seeking to unlock the meaning of the texts with which they have to deal.  (More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my private tutoring business in Melbourne, Victoria.)

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Student resources by Dr Mark Lopez

More elaborate notes are provided in lessons as part of my Melbourne private tutoring business.