William Shakespeare’s Macbeth Overview & Interpretation

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Understanding William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this post, let’s take a look at one of his timeless pieces in English Literature.

“Macbeth” is a timeless archetype about greed for power, murder, and the continuing violence. The initially hesitant royal killer Macbeth, after rising to the throne with bloody hands, becomes a serial killer. The instigator Lady Macbeth goes mad.

In fact, “Macbeth” has often been interpreted as a deterrent to political crimes and tyranny. This moral appeal seems obvious. And yet the fascination is hardly broken by horror. Or is this tragedy no warning of the curse of the evil deed? But a look into the abysses of man, nihilism, senselessness?

Macbeth by William Shakespeare | Plot Summary

Macbeth – from loyal follower to tyrant

The Scottish highlands in the 11th century. Macbeth fought bravely in the battle for his king, the traitor is defeated. On the way home, he meets three witches together with the nobleman Banquo. The righteous Macbeth already follows the title “Than of Glamis” as a follower of King Duncan. But now the three sisters of fate awaken fatal ambitions in the good man with a prophecy.

Because in recognition of the achievement in battle, Macbeth should not only become Than of Cawdor, but the three witches also promise him royal dignity. But you don’t just become king like that. Lady Macbeth, who knows her husband well, knows this too.

So the lady has to persuade her husband to kill King Duncan, who just awarded Macbeth for his actions. Only then is the way clear for Macbeth to become king himself. The plan: The king is coming to Inverness and is to be murdered during his stay in Macbeth ‘s castle!

Macbeth initially agrees to the plan, but then gets doubts and hesitates. Lady Macbeth then reproaches him, questions his masculinity. She reminds him of his promise and pressures him with her own determination.

The ambitious Lady Macbeth urges action

Until the deed occurs, the couple changes roles; then he is the one who drives the thing forward. Finally, Macbeth kills King Duncan with the dagger while Lady Macbeth poisoned his servant.

But it doesn’t stop there: Banquo, to whom the witches had predicted royal descendants, must also be cleared out of the way. The Macduff family, who is a loyal follower of King Duncan, are also cleared out of the way while Macduff himself is in England.

After the murder of King Duncan, Macbeth recognized the act as a turning point in his life.

Macbeth’s ambiguous prophecies are safe

But from then on, the thirst for power does not stop Macbeth, who developed into a tyrant, from further murders. Macbeth is safe because another prophecy says that no man born of a woman can harm him. He was invincible as long as the Birnam forest did not set off.

Lady Macbeth is plagued by guilt for her actions. She suffers from insomnia, sleepwalks and finally takes her own life.

Macbeth finds his master in Macduff. Because the prophecies were ambiguous and deceptive: Macduff was born by Caesarean section, so he wasn’t born in the strict sense of a woman. And the forest of Birnam sets off when Seiward asks his men to use branches from the Birnamswald for camouflage.

Macbeth Interpretation

“Macbeth” takes place around the year 1040 in Scotland and England. The tragedy was written by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) around 1606. To date, they are topics currently dealt with and offer plenty of material for interpretation: gender roles and the question “What is male?” The urge to power at all costs. And even what we now call “virtual reality” is an issue. Because William Shakespeare made the theater a testing space for alternative worlds.

On a side note, if you want to watch more of Shakespeare’s work, Here’s how to get American Netflix in your area. Watch more movies on literature and more.

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