Macbeth Character/Theme Essay Plan

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Macbeth – Character/Theme Essay Plan
Unchecked ambition is Macbeth's fatal flaw and one which entirely corrupts him. He is destroyed due to his inability to listen to his conscience which troubles him throughout the play, yet greed and desire for power overwhelm him.

  • Choose a play in which there is a character who suffers from a human weakness such as ambition…

  • Choose a character from a play whose fate is unfortunate or unhappy…

  • choose a play in which a character has to make an important decision…

  • Choose a play which has a tragic ending… (need to explain what the ending is first)

  • Choose a play in which one of the main concerns is betrayal…

  • Could also use most of this for a question on opening – just add in a bit about the witches and ‘brave Macbeth’ to begin with (could sacrifice point 2 if you don’t have time). Keep linking all points back to the opening.

Macbeth is immediately linked with evil - cast aspersions on his character/fate from outset

  1. Witches sow the seed that grows to become his corrupting ambition with prophecies

'By Finel's death, I know I am of Glamis, 'Why do I yield to that suggestion?'

But how of Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor lives (Macbeth, Act 1, Sc 3)

[...] and to be king

Stands not within the prospect of belief,'

(Macbeth, Act 1, Sc 3)

  1. He cannot stop his ambitious thoughts, though he tries to suppress them

'The Prince of Cumberland: that is a step 'Thou wouldst be great,

On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap, Art not without ambition, but without

For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires The illness that should attend it.'

Let not light see my black and deep desires.' (Lady Macbeth, Act 1, Sc 5)

(Macbeth, Act 1, Sc 4)

  1. Realises his only motive is ambition

‘I have no spur 'And if we fail?'

To prick the sides of my intent, but only (Macbeth, Act 1, Sc 7)

Vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself

And falls on the other.'

(Macbeth, Act 1, Sc 7)

  1. Even after the deed, he wants more

‘To be thus is nothing, Upon my head they have placed a fruitless crown

But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo And put a barren sceptre in my gripe.'

Stick deep,’ (Macbeth, Act 3, Sc 1)

(Macbeth, Act 3, Sc 1)

  1. Macbeth was not capable of living up to his unchecked ambition - leads to tragic end

'Now he does feel his title

Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe

Upon a dwarfish thief.'

(Angus, Act 5, Sc 2)
He is killed by Macduff and pronounced a ‘dead butcher’ by Malcolm.

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