Themes in Macbeth Essay Topics

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' is an important play filled with themes that give students plenty to think about. The essay topics in this lesson will help your students think about various themes in the play.

Writing About Macbeth

Have your students recently finished reading Shakespeare's Macbeth? If so, you are probably looking for ways to help them synthesize and consolidate what they got out of this significant work of literature. If you are interested particularly in helping your students think critically and deeply about the play, you probably want to get them focused on the underlying themes, motifs, and messages that Shakespeare deals with. By having your students write essays about the themes in Macbeth, you can help them develop and support their own arguments about the play and what its themes really mean.

Topics About Ambition

  • How do you think Shakespeare defines ambition through Macbeth? Does the play generally seem to construct ambition as a good thing or a bad thing? Use specific examples to support your point, then weigh in with your own ideas about what ambition is and how it can be good or bad.
  • Zero in on one of the characters in Macbeth, and write about how his or her relationship to ambition evolves over the course of the play. Determine whether you think of this character as an ambitious person, what leads to any changes in his or her degree of ambition, and how ambition impacts his or her outcome at the end of the play.
  • Has your perspective on ambition changed as a result of reading Macbeth? Write an essay that describes why and how the play has affected your thinking and opinions about this theme using specific examples from the play, as well as your own life, to illustrate the evolution you describe.

Topics About the Supernatural

  • Focus on the witches and their role in the play. Use your focus to write an essay about the way the supernatural relates to the real, or natural, in Macbeth, and offer up a grounded theory about what Shakespeare might have been trying to communicate about the nature of this relationship.
  • How would Macbeth and its characters have been different without the prophesies of the witches? Use your answer to this question to write about the overall role and meaning of the supernatural in the play and the characters' lives, then comment on the extent to which you do or do not think Macbeth is generally a spiritually oriented play.

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