Macbeth: Victim, Criminal, or Both?

By: Daja Johnson

Central Theme

The main theme of Macbeth finds its most powerful expression through the two main characters, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Macbeth is known to be a very courageous Scottish general who isn’t naturally willing to commit acts of evil, however he yearns for power. Going against his judgment, he murders Duncan only resulting in guilt and paranoia which leads to his madness towards the end of the play. Lady Macbeth, however, has goals towards stronger determination. She motivates her husband to kill Duncan and urges Macbeth to be strong after all is done. Ironically though, she is driven to distraction by the effect of Macbeth’s slaughter on her conscience. Despite that, it isn’t their consciences that drive them to more terrible outrage, it is the prophecies of the witches. The play suggests that once one has used violence towards another in order to gain power, it is hard to stop. There is always going to be a potential threat to the throne and wanting to use violent means to get rid of them can get tempting. Another thing seen in the play is the issues caused by gender. You often saw Lady Macbeth manipulating her husband, Macbeth, by questioning his manhood. However, this doesn’t contradict Macbeth when he says that a woman like her should give birth only to boys. It shows that whenever Lady Macbeth and Macbeth converse about manhood, it is followed up with violence. Their understanding of manhood allows the political order in the play to go up in flames.

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"And oftentimes, to win us to our harm, The instruments of darkness tell us truths."

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Evil and Temptation

"From this moment

The very firstlings of my heart shall be

The firstlings of my hand."

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Gender Discrimination

"I dare do all that may become a man"