Moral: Unchecked ambition and excessive thirst for power will ultimately lead to destruction
Macbeth is a tragic play written by the great playwright. This play is set in medieval Scotland and dramatizes concepts such as ambition, power, greed, deception and treachery. The story of the play revolves around Macbeth, a brave general of the king. Given below is a very brief summary of the story of Macbeth.
Summary of Macbeth
Three witches decide to confront the brave Scottish warrior Macbeth on his victorious return from a war between Scotland and Norway. Meanwhile, Duncan the king of Scotland decides that he will confer the title of Cawdor on heroic Macbeth. Macbeth and another General called Banquo are confronted by the three witches on their way home. The witches predict that Macbeth will become the Thane of Cawdor and ultimately become the king of Scotland. It is also predicted that Banquo will beget a line of kings although he will never be a king. Just after hearing these prophecies, Macbeth receives the news that he has been conferred the title of Thane of Cawdor.
Believing in the witches’ prophecies, Macbeth decides that he will murder the king. His wife also agrees to his plan. He then murders the king assisted by his wife. They smear the blood of the king on the daggers of the sleeping guards. Another nobleman called Macduff discovers the body, and Macbeth kills the innocent guards insisting that their blood smeared daggers are proof that they have committed the murder. The two princes fearing foul play flee the country, and the crown passes to Macbeth. In his greed and ambition to remain the king, Macbeth kills more people including Banquo and Macduff’s family. Later on, Macbeth begins to see the bloodied ghost of Banquo and Lady Macbeth’s conscience also begins to torture her. She commits suicide. At the end of the play, Malcolm and Macduff comes with an army and defeats Macbeth. Macduff kills Macbeth and Malcolm becomes king.
What is the Moral of Macbeth
To find the moral Shakespeare intended in this play, it’s important to analyze what Macbeth does wrong in this play. At the beginning of the play, Macbeth is a brave and loyal subject of King Duncan. But it is only after hearing the witches’ prophecies that the seeds of ambition begin to grow in his mind. It is unrestrained ambition and thirst for power that make him commit the gruesome murders of the king and other nobles. Therefore, his ambition proves out to be his fatal flaw.
The concept of fate is another idea that is prevalent in this play. When the first prophecy is proven true, he attempts to take his fate into his own hands by deciding to fulfill the next prophecy by himself. Perhaps, if he had let nature take its course, he would have become the king in some strange twist of fate. But his unchecked ambition does not allow him to wait idly.