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Writing Hints on Macbeth Essay for Future Wordsmiths

The genuine value of literature is determined by its longevity. If an author is known throughout centuries and is studied by different generations, he or she turns into a vivid example of classic literature. William Shakespeare belongs to those illustrative knights of the pen, whose oeuvres continue to magnetize readers around the globe. Although he wrote various plays and sonnets, he is specifically recognized as the master of tragedies. “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is one of his celebrated works. Unsurprisingly, students of English Literature or Arts and Culture are often assigned Macbeth essay writing tasks.

Before you immerse in the creative process, you need to carry out a meticulous investigation of historical aspects as well as fictional features of the play. Despite his original storylines, sophisticated and entertaining characters, the “Bard of Avon” took many ideas from historical records, such as Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Many researchers share an opinion that “Macbeth” was loosely based on those chronicles of the history of England. Yet, there is also enough evidence that the famous tragedy stems from The History of Scotland by George Buchanan. As a student or a scholar, you need to know these details to compare and contrast your findings. Sometimes, the uncertainty regarding the historical origins may hinder the progress of your research. This is one of the core reasons why our literature experts compiled the essential facts along with tips on an essay on Macbeth.

Among the known 10 tragedies written by the Bard, “Macbeth” holds a special place. It has been widely performed around the globe since 1606! Ironically, its major theme remains more than relevant in the modern world. The play revolves around extreme ambitions, which surpass all the moral aspects. It perfectly displays the destructive side of the lust for power. Thus, it accurately reflects the jeopardy of distorted political strivings of the well-known autocratic rulers.

Compelling Facts about Macbeth

  1. This is the shortest tragic play by Shakespeare.

Even theatre adherents get tired during lengthy performances. Probably, the briefness of this tragedy significantly contributed to its popularity. If to compare it with Hamlet, the longest tragic play of the Bard, which consists of more than 4000 lines, Macbeth is twice shorter. It contains about 2500 lines or even less, depending on the printed version. In any case, if to calculate 1,000 lines per hour as an average speaking speed, the performance of this play takes about 3 hours. Of course, its versions are continually adapted to the ultimate performance time in modern theatres. When writing an essay about Macbeth, you can compare and contrast the duration of plays in the 17th century and contemporary times.

  1. King Macbeth was a real historical figure.

Now it becomes logical why the Scottish origin of the play truly makes sense. In the mid-1000s, there was a king of Scotland named Mac Bethad mac Findláich. He was crowned through bloodshed, after killing King Duncan in 1040. The reign of Mac Bethad, which continued for the next 14 years, was deemed rather peaceful. Yet, Duncan’s son Malcolm took revenge and killed the Scottish ruler in 1057. The justice triumphed and the descendant of Duncan turned into a king.

  1. The play was published post-mortem: 17 years after its first performance

The first recorded performance of “Macbeth” dates back to 1606. Yet, it remained unpublished for 17 years. It was released as part of Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623, 7 years after the Bard’s death. Henry Condell and John Herminge, who were actors and the playwright’s friends, endeavored to perpetuate 36 Shakespearean plays in the mentioned collection. Along with more popular works, they helped to save 18 plays, which hadn’t been printed before. This way, if the Bard’s friends had not perpetuated so many outstanding plays, you wouldn’t have worked on Macbeth writing assignment.

  1. There is a legend that Macbeth has been cursed

There were certain coincidences that turned into a belief that the play itself has a curse on it. Actors were even afraid of speaking the name of the tragedy. They called it “The Scottish Play” instead. People started believing in the curse when the first actor who had to play Lady Macbeth died when performing it. (In Shakespearean times, women were not allowed to participate in plays in public theaters, so men had to play female roles.) Some actors were sure that the Great Bard used authentic spells of the witches when writing his major work. Usually, when an actor tripped over something, he had to leave the stage immediately, turn around a few times, spit, swear, and knock three times before appearing on stage again.

Main characters of the tragedy and a brief glimpse into its plot

The adaptation of Shakespeare closely resembles the historical reality of that time. He only shortened the name of the Scottish general Mac Bethad mac Findláich into Macbeth. The central character meets three witches or the “Weird Sisters”, who predict his ascension to the throne of Scotland. However, this prophecy is of dubious nature, as it resembles the deliberate enticement of Macbeth into murdering the then ruling king. The hero’s wife also encourages her husband to do more and more evil deeds. When he initially refuses to kill the king, she calls him a coward. As a result, his ambitions grow ferociously, making him assassinate King Duncan. Macbeth becomes tyrannical and invincible, as he eradicates all the possible threats to his power. Yet, a horrible fate is waiting for him and his wife around the corner. Justice will prevail in the end.

Let us delve into the main Macbeth characters, revealing some important details:

  • Macbeth

Portraying Macbeth as a tragic hero may not seem to have much sense. At first, we see this Scottish general as a brave man, who was even promoted to the position of Thane of Cawdor. Despite his bravery and strength, he lacked virtuousness, and high power easily tempted him. It wasn’t difficult for him to murder people to conquer the throne. He was a disastrous ruler for Scotland, as he embodied only tyranny and viciousness. His wife also had a great influence on him, making him commit more and more evil deeds. His tragedy lies in his blind ambition, which he could not control. However, many researchers argue that it is too benevolent to call him a tragic hero, as his atrocious deeds undoubtedly turned him into a villain.

  • Lady Macbeth

The ill-fated wife of the protagonist, Lady Macbeth, also embodies a lust for excruciating power. At some point, she appears more callous than her husband, as she convinces Macbeth to kill the king and ascend the throne. She is equally responsible for the brutal murders of innocent people. One of her tactics was to humiliate Macbeth by calling him a coward. Despite her happiness that the plan to kill King Duncan was successful, she started to sense enormous pangs of conscience. There is a vivid episode where the woman is sleepwalking and even having hallucinations of the blood on her hands. Finally, the incessant guilt makes her lose her mind, and she commits suicide. Often, when composing Macbeth character analysis essay, students tend to concentrate on this heroine as a driving force for all Macbeth’s transgressions.

  • Banquo

One of the main characters in Macbeth is Banquo, who can be perceived as the villain’s alter ego, as he resembles Macbeth but does not have flagitious strivings. He is also a Scottish general with certain ambitions, but he does not choose a path of assassination and infidelity. The witches also have a compelling prophecy for Banquo, saying that his descendants will rule Scotland. Yet, he doesn’t realize that the cost of such a prediction is his life, which is eventually taken at Macbeth’s command.

  • Three Weird Sisters

The leading supernatural powers in Shakespeare’s play are embodied in Three Witches or Three Weird Sisters. They appear to test the protagonist’s desire for power. The prophecy of the witches only serves as a chance to choose either the path of tyrannical ambitions or more noble intentions. Yet, Macbeth chooses the path of blood-covered temporary glory. After killing the king and many other innocent people, the general searches for the Weird Sisters to ask more questions about his future. This time, they portray less glorious phantoms, as they become symbols of his subsequent downfall. They chant three more predictions: Macbeth has to beware of Macduff; he cannot be harmed by the one a woman gave birth to; and he will be protected until Birnam Wood stands against the king. Not all these predictions are clear, as they contain metaphoric connotations. You will guess the meaning of these symbols if you read the tragic play from A to Z.

Get inspired by the Macbeth character analysis essay example

Even if you haven’t read the play yet, this Macbeth essay example will shed light on more captivating aspects of the plot along with its historical significance:

Macbeth is a strong, powerful, and experienced warrior. Courage coupled with ambitiousness and hesitation makes up an integral part of Macbeth’s nature. As soon as the three witches reveal Macbeth’s future to him, that brings him joy, tumult, and agitation at the same time. Clearly, the moment Macbeth finds out that he, a thane of Glamis, is bound to become a thane of Cawdor and, later, a king of Scotland, he feels excited and overwhelmed. Even more so, the prophecy leaves Macbeth in utter astonishment and arouses his curiosity. Throughout the play, the senses of cunningness, longing, vacillation, and courage as if compete to hold sway over Macbeth’s mind and soul, his words and deeds. It has been noted by the researchers, critics, and the connoisseurs of Shakespeare’s work that, probably, the author’s primary goal of putting Macbeth in the play is to show what may become of a person whose soul is weak once he or she is confronted by guilt and ambition.

In the first scene of the first act of the play The Tragedy of Macbeth, we find out that a battle has taken place. The three witches happen to be the first characters the readers get introduced to. With that in mind, it has to be pointed out that the witches in the play do not simply represent the supernatural forces. In a way, the three witches are an allegory, a symbol of all that inherently is a part of human nature, all that remains half-a-shadow, all that makes up the darker part of a personality. Macbeth and the associate of his, Banquo, with whom he fought side by side at that battle, meet the witches on the heath near the battlefield on their way to Forres, the King’s palace, after Duncan, the King of Scotland, had summoned them. The witches speak in riddles, which compels Macbeth to start hesitating even more.

Macbeth is given the title of the thane of Cawdor by the King after Macdonwald, former thane of Cawdor, had been executed for the treason against the fatherland and the king. To express his gratitude and to save him some time to ruminate upon the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth suggests King Duncan pays him a visit and they feast in his castle. This is the first moment in the play when Macbeth is beginning to plot against the king. Clearly, the decision to kill the king becomes Macbeth’s downfall.

… Hee’s heere in double trust;

First, as I am his Kinsman, and his Subiect,

Strong both against the Deed: Then, as his Host,

Who should against his Murtherer shut the doore,

Not beare the knife my selfe (1. 7. 12-16).

The excerpt cited above is a fragment of Macbeth’s soliloquy. The quote proves that the desire of power poisoned Macbeth’s mind and his heart grown corrupted.

Macbeth is the title character of, probably, one of the best-known tragedies by William Shakespeare. It is a story of a man who wishes to succeed against all odds. Macbeth is an experienced and powerful warlord. On the other hand, Macbeth’s soul is weak, which is why he is tempted by the prophecy. Unwittingly, Macbeth allows the prophecy to lead him astray. Clearly, the first act of the play does not fully reveal the potential of Macbeth as the central character. There is no denying the fact that Macbeth can be categorized as the so-called round character and it will be interesting to trace his development in the parts of the play that follow.

Concluding Part

The prevalent theme of Macbeth is an inhumane thirst for power, which brings only devastation. William Shakespeare masterfully portrayed a tragedy of a madman who wants to conquer everything around him and keep innocent people in fear. Yet, justice triumphs over vices in the end.

If you read our article attentively, you are certainly ready to write an outstanding literary essay. Just remember, whenever you have any problems – the wordsmiths of Essays-Service.com will assist you in any kind of creative writing!