Macbeth Essay Examples and Topics

by William Shakespeare

Essay Examples
Essay Topics
Brief overview



William Shakespeare





Major Characters

The main characters in Macbeth are Macduff, Banquo, Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, King Duncan, and Malcolm.

Based on

Macbeth is based on Holinshed’s Chronicles published in 1577. The Holinshed’s Chronicles describes British history in several volumes. The first one was published in 1577 and the second in 1587.

  • Blood symbolizes guilt and murder
  • Light and darkness symbolize good and evil
  • Weather to symbolize tone
  • Water purification symbolizes cleaning or removal of guilt

Macbeth gets easily persuaded due to his lack of judgment. He convinces himself not to kill Duncan but retracts fast after Lady Macbeth convinces him otherwise. The play is a reminder to the people who lack self-principles. They can develop them and live a different life.


Macbeth receives a prophecy from three witches that he will become a king in Scotland. Lady Macbeth encourages him to kill King Duncan so that he takes his throne. Convinced, he carried out the plan but, in the confusion, he kills many more people. There is civil unrest as citizens fight to overthrow the new king. Due to this, more people die.

Why is this topic important?

The quest for power can be dangerous if not kept under control. Macbeth desperately wanted to be king but it only resulted in a civil war and more deaths. The play teaches people that the desire for greatness is good but if it lacks good principles, it becomes destructive.

Main Ideas

Every individual should develop ambition. However, behind the ambition, there must be constraints. Lack of constraints is destructive in many ways. In ordinary situations, Macbeth is a good general who thinks well about his country but when he becomes obsessed with the desire for power, he becomes a different man.

Key Quotes
  • King Duncan: “Which bloody man is that?”
  • Banquo: “The current fears are lesser compared to horrible imaginings.”
  • Lady Macbeth: “The milk of human kindness.”
  • Macbeth: “This is a sorry sight.”
  • Macduff: “One fell swoop.”
Interesting facts
  • The original Macbeth killed the original Duncan in 1040
  • After Macbeth killed the real Duncan, he ruled the land for 17 years and was killed by his stepson Lulach the Idiot. He reigned for a year and Malcolm III became king.
  • The day Macbeth died is like the very same day he became king.
  • If you mention the name Macbeth in a play, you are supposed to walk in circles three times anticlockwise after which you must spit or speak a rude word
Why should this topic be used?

The topic has multiple lessons to be learned by the audience. The golden rule of life that “Do to others what you would like done to you” is real in this play. Macbeth kills Duncan to take the throne. He is killed by his stepson who takes his throne. The step-sone is killed by Malcolm. If Macbeth had listened to his conscience, such a trend of murders could have been stopped.

Arguments for
  • Fate is tied to free will. There is a series of fates versus free will that follows the line of kings in Scotland. It starts with Macbeth and progresses to the third king from him.
  • The three witches gave word to Macbeth that he would be king but they don’t tell him how. He doesn’t wait for the right time because fate was upon him.
  • Macbeth is unable to make strong decisions. Even though he decides not to kill Duncan, his wife convinces him to kill.
Arguments against
  • Macbeth had to kill Duncan to fulfill fate. From the trends that follow Macbeth down to his step so and Malcolm, it is evident Duncan had to face the same fate. The best person to fulfill it was Macbeth.
  • Lady Macbeth’s influence was catastrophic but she was only playing her role of an advisor to her husband. However, Duncan had a right to say no to the advice but he didn’t because he could not have fulfilled his main purpose.
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