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Written between 1611-12

First performed in 1623.

Macbeth tells of a man who is deceived by himself and his wife. The play opens with thunder and lightning and the appearance of three witches--supernatural beings. Due to the fact that this is the beginning of the play, the opening Act, it foreshadows the central theme of the play--evil.--Submitted by Shanika

Basically, there are three witches who predict Macbeth's future; it then plays on his mind when the first prediction comes true--he becomes Thane of Cawdor. Then he would go on to be king. He writes and tells his wife and they were both really excited. When Macbeth gets back to his castle, he and his wife decide that the only way he can become king is if they kill King Duncan. With power gone to his head, Macbeth slowly starts to 'lose the plot', as does Lady Macbeth.--Submitted by Anonymous

Macbeth captures the timeless nature of the human experience....There is greed for power, murderous evil scheming, and the nobility of the fight for good and evil. The tortuous guilty self-flagellation that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth succumb to is such a base human emotion. Without realizing it they are both lost in the depth of the chasm they willingly stepped into. Those are elements of "a classic" and of course no one questions that Shakespeare's Macbeth, written in 1606, still plays well today.--Submitted by Judy M

The noteworthy feature of this play is that the entire action centers around two terrible figures who dominate over the rest of the characters and push them into significance. It has been the custom to think of Macbeth as a cowardly criminal and Lady Macbeth as the incarnation of the Devil, and consequently to think of them as being different in their attitude to crime. But to do so would be to miss the complexity introduced by Shakespeare in presenting them as being alike in the way they have been consumed by the passion of ambition. Still tragedy of ambition seems a true and adequate description of the play, to this extent at least, that ambition is the main spring of its action. Ambition alone calls into operation the forces that bring about the central deed and its train of fearful results.--Submitted by Dipen Guha

The character of Macbeth is very charming in spite of being cruel.--Submitted by Rajesh Jailal Vyas

This is one of the most fascinating plays by Shakespeare. The three witches play a significant role to Duncan's fate and Macbeth's downfall. Their prophecy being initially proven through Macbeth's crown as the thane of crawdo however one may argue and insist that it was Macbeth's ambition to be the king long before the three witches' prophecy.--Submitted by baroka

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Recent Forum Posts on Macbeth

The Apparitions in MACBETH

The apparitions are certainly another example of riddling equivocation from the witches, but are they also another invitation by the author to the reader and playgoer to recall his earlier work? The first apparition, "an armed head"(MAC4.1.68), recalls the "apparition"(HAM1.1.27) in HAMLET. The author highlights the fact that the ghost is armed: "Armed at all points exactly, cap-a-pie"(1.2.200), "Armed, say you?, Armed, my lord, From top to toe?, My lord, from head to foot.................My father's spirit, in arms!"(1.2.57). The second apparition, "a bloody child," recalls Juliet at the conclusion of ROMEO AND JULIET. Early in ROMEO, Capulet says, "My child is yet a stranger in the world"(ROM1.2.8), and in the final scene, "O wife, look how our daughter bleeds!"(5.3.2). Any suggestions regarding what the third apparition, "a child crowned, with a tree in his hand," might recall?

Great quote

There is a great quote within Macbeth that I'm trying to locate where they say his face smacks of every sins adjective. Any help getting the exact quote would be very appreciated.


In honor of the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, let us now discuss one of his greatest plays - The Tragedy of Macbeth, or the Scottish play. While many argue that Hamlet or King Lear is the greatest of the "great tragedies," there are also those who could argue for Macbeth. Harold Bloom, who considers Hamlet the grandest of Shakespeare's plays, sees Macbeth as his personal favorite of the plays. I have read three of Shakespeare's plays - Hamlet, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet - and I would say that Macbeth is my own personal favorite as well. I love how it adopts from the events and trends of the time - the Gunpowder Plot, the craze over witches, and others - and adopts it into a sumptuous, ferocious, and compact play full of phantasmic visions, a style that is varied and full of blood, allusiveness, and fantastic experiments and combinations with language, a character that is an ultimate terminator who yet has a soul (the only tragic hero of the four tragedies who is damned), and the opacity it has, even in its generally victorious ending. As for the experimental language I mentioned, see this example: "Was the hope drunk/Wherein you dress'd yourself? Hath it slept since?" (I.vii.35-38). And another: "Besides, this Duncan/Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been/So clear in his great office, that his virtues/Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongu'd, against/The deep damnation of his taking off; And pity, like a naked new-born babe, Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubin, hors'd/Upon the sightless couriers of the air,/Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye/That tears shall drown the wind." (I.vii.16-25) The metaphors seem as if they dart off one another, moving from one to another. That's a sign of the fierce rapidity of the play's spirit, of the darkness that gives the play its preternatural power. Truly, language like this makes Macbeth feel less like a proto-modern play like Hamlet and more of a pre-natural, pagan-Christian story. Plus, the strangeness of the language, compared to others of Shakespeare's play, adds to the strangeness of the play. It may seem "simplistic" compared to Hamlet, considering that Macbeth is more explicitly Christian and moral than the other tragedies of Shakespeare. Yet Macbeth has its own moral complexity, and I like how it mixes a certainty about morality with questions and opacity. I like that mixture, and I feel that, as it is shown in scenes relating to Macbeth's murder of Duncan, the visions that Macbeth receives, and the events of the play, this mixture is effective to the feel of the play. So, in our honoring of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary, let us not forget this great tragedy, and let us appreciate its unique virtues, even as arguably greater tragedies such as Hamlet and King Lear stand in its company.

An editing question

Professor Barnet noted that in Act 1, scene 7, Mac says: "Prithee, peace! / I dare do all that may become a man; / Who dares no more is none." He goes on to inform us that since the time of Samuel Johnson, editors have replaced "no" with "do:" "Who dares do more is none." It seems to me that Barnet chose this passage as an example because he found it interesting. It also seems that Macbeth is defending his previous statement: " I have bought / Golden opinions from all sorts of people, / Which would be worn now in their newest gloss, / Not cast aside so soon." In other words, he would like to continue wearing his "Golden opinions" even though it seems silly or cowardly. Therefore, "no" is ok. Would anyone like to argue or explain why "do" is better?

Question regarding the soliloquy on Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 49 to 71

Hello dear fellows! I'll probably have some more questions, but here's one: Why does Macbeth use plural: "Our fears..."? Thanks for the responders! :banana:

I need help finding pathos in act 2 of Macbeth.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

How can I modernize Macbeth?

First of all, hey I'm new on here! :) Secondly, for my grade 10 english literature assessment I have to write and perform a dramatic monologue from Macbeth. It has to be modernized. We have two options when modernizing though, we can do either a soliloquy or just the play summarized. So does anyone have any ideas on how I can modernize Macbeth to perform as a dramatic monologue? Thanks! :)

The famous spell

Hi all. In Macbeth act 4 scene 1 witch number 3 says Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf, Witches mummy, maw, and gulfe Of the ravin'd salt sea shark: Root of hemlock, digg'd i'th' dark: Liver of blaspheming jew, Gall of goat, and slips of Yew, Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse: Nose of turk, and tartars lips: Finger of birth-strangled Babe, ???????? Ditch-deliver'd by a drab, Make the gruel thick, and slab. Add thereto a tigers chawdron, For th' ingredience of our cauldron It seems to me that something is wrong with the verse: or is there something I am not understanding? regards

Macbeth Thesis Assistance needed!!!

Could you guys please read it and please feel free to alter it and please suggests improvements.

How is Macbeth a tragic hero?

Hi I know that macbeth is a ragic hero. But how does he show it, I would go and watch the play but its pointless since the essay am doing is not completely focused on it. thanks

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