Religious Themes in Macbeth Essays

William Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth in approximately 1606. The play is a tragedy and this can be often identified before we have even read the play. The title “Macbeth” alone suggests the genre of the play is a tragedy as it is the name of a character. Life in Shakespeare’s time was very religious and the play was written in order to please King James I who was on the throne at this point. The idea of the theme of religion and witchcraft fitting into the play was also to please King James I as he was interested in witchcraft. The majority of people living in Shakespeare’s time were Christians and they believed that if you lived a good life, you would go to Heaven and if you were bad in life, you would go to Hell. At the time of the play, King James I was on the throne and this is significant as he makes Banquo a good character as he is the King’s Ancestor. This influenced Shakespeare’s writing because he had to write a play to please the King so Shakespeare included witchcraft as King James I was interested in witchcraft. The text of the play is based on “Chronicles: History of England, Scotland and Ireland” published by Raphael Holinshed in 1577. In Chronicles, Banquo is an accomplice to Macbeth in the murder of the King rather than a loyal subject of the King who is seen as an enemy by Macbeth. Shakespeare could have changed Banquo’s character in order to please King James I. The witches fit into the theme of Macbeth as the play is very religious and involves witchcraft and the powers of evil.

In Act 1, Scene 1, the three witches meet in the battlefields to talk about when they are going to meet Macbeth following the fighting. In Act 1, Scene 1 Shakespeare uses pathetic fallacy to show the mood of the scene. The weathe…

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…is warning him of what will happen. To further extend my point, the second and third apparation go on to say ‘Macbeth shall never be vanquished until Great Birnam Wood to High Dunsinane shall come against him’ which again warns Macbeth of What is to come. I believe Macbeth would have done such deeds as he goes on in the play to talk about his ‘Vaulting ambition’ This line suggests that Macbeth all along could have had a burning desire to be king and just needed the edge from the witches to kill King Duncan. Throughout the whole play we could consider Lady Macbeth as a fourth witch as she try’s to persuade Macbeth to kill King Duncan.

Overall, I believe that Macbeth was a villain as he had a ‘Vaulting ambition’ to become King with a little help from the witches. The witches had great effect on Macbeth as a character and a huge effect on the plot of the play.

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