Themes in Macbeth

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Themes in Macbeth by Mind Map: Themes in Macbeth

1. Ambition

1.1. Kingship

1.1.1. Macbeth talks of Duncan as a good king

1.1.2. Macbeth worries that his "fruitless crown" means he won't leave a line of kings after he dies "no son of mine succeeding"

1.1.3. The witches show Macbeth a line of eight kings.

1.2. Power

1.2.1. Lady Macbeth's power over Macbeth

1.2.2. Macbeth's power over Scotland

1.2.3. Macbeth's loss of power when the rebels rise up against him

1.2.4. Power over one's own mind

1.3. Control

1.4. Tyranny

1.5. Consequences of ambition

1.5.1. Before the murder, Macbeth knows that his "vaulting ambition" could lead to his downfall.

1.5.2. The Thane of Cawdor is executed for his ambitious plot to overthrow Duncan

1.5.3. Context: Is Shakespeare warning ambitious courtiers against similar plots?

1.5.4. Context: Shakespeare plays on the insecurities of the time, writing one year after the Gunpowder Plot.

2. Good and Evil

2.1. Supernatural- things that are unnatural are considered to be evil.

2.1.1. Witches

2.1.2. Lady Macbeth summoning the spirits

2.1.3. Hallucinations

2.2. Deception

2.2.1. Macbeth's duplicity

2.2.1.1. Lady Macbeth encourages him to be duplicitous "look like the innocent flower but be the serpent under it"

2.2.2. Appearance vs reality

2.2.2.1. Pretending to be someone you're not "stars hide your fires; let not light see my black and deep desires".

2.3. Tyranny

2.3.1. Macbeth's tyrannical leadership

2.3.1.1. Overthrown by Macduff

2.3.1.2. Good can triumph over evil

2.3.1.2.1. Good characters are heroic and brave

2.4. Murder and violence

2.4.1. Macbeth's crimes get darker and darker- murders Duncan, then Banquo, then Macduff's children.

2.5. Does Macbeth still have any good in him?

3. Supernatural

3.1. Witches

3.2. Hallucinations

3.3. Ghosts

3.3.1. Banquo's ghost appears at the feast- symbol of Macbeth's guilt. He is haunted by his actions.

3.3.2. Apparitions (conjured by the witches)

3.4. Fate and Free Will

3.4.1. Is Macbeth free to make his own choices?

3.4.2. Macbeth believes fate drives his actions. He seems to deny his own free will.

3.4.3. Context: Jacobean belief in the Wheel of Fortune- Fortune would determine your fate.

3.4.4. Context: Christian belief in God's power. God chooses our paths, though we do have free will.

4. Loyalty and Guilt

4.1. Blood symbolises guilt

4.1.1. Blood on Macbeth's hands- can't be washed away, even with "all of Neptune's ocean"

4.1.2. Lady Macbeth can't wash the blood off her hands "out out damned spot"

4.2. Sleep symbolises innocence

4.2.1. Duncan murdered in his sleep- he is innocent

4.2.2. "Macbeth doth murder sleep"- Macbeth can't sleep because of the guilt he feels.

4.2.3. Lady Macbeth sleep walks and reveals her guilt.

4.3. Duncan believes Macbeth is loyal "O worthiest cousin!", "brave Macbeth", "noble Macbeth". He was loyal to Duncan in battle.

4.4. Conscience

4.4.1. Macbeth's conscience symbolised by the dagger?

4.4.2. Lady Macbeth asks for the spirits to remove her femininity- her conscience- so that she can be "Filled from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty"

4.4.3. Context: conscience is a Christian virtue. Having a conscience means you have some morality. When do Macbeth and Lady Macbeth lose their consciences?

4.4.4. Guilt implies they do have a conscience after all.