Free Essays: Comparing Characters and Themes in Hamlet and Macbeth

Parallel Characters and Themes in Hamlet and MacBeth

Throughout William Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and Macbeth

there are many similarities, along with many differences. These plays

are both Shakespearean tragedies, which often use supernatural

incidents to capture the reader’s interest, and consists of a hero that

has a tragic flaw. There are many comparative and contrasting

aspects in these plays.

The opening of Hamlet involves a supernatural, as does the

opening of Macbeth. In the first scene the ghost of his father, King

Hamlet, approaches Hamlet. Similarly, the opening of Macbeth

involves the three witches. Although the witches can be seen by

anyone they approach, the ghost of King Hamlet is only seen by

Hamlet himself, and in one scene by Marcellus and Bernardo,

Hamlet’s servants. Similarly in both plays, the main characters are

slightly suspicious of the actual powers these supernatural figures

have. As the witches use their apparent powers to tell Macbeth the

future, the ghost of King Hamlet tells Hamlet what has happened

already. Hamlet states in one of his soliloquies “The spirit that I have

seen / may be the devil” (2.2.598-599). Macbeth also has his doubts

because when the witches tell him that he will be named Thane of

Cawder, Macbeth himself had not known, but many people had. It is

possible the witches could have known. In the same matter in both

plays, the presentation of the supernatural began to lead to the final

downfall of each of the characters. In Macbeth, the three witches

cause him to think and do evil deeds. In Hamlet, if he had not seen

the ghost of his father, he would not have known that Claudius has

killed his father to claim the throne. In both instances the characters

gave into the nagging supernatural beliefs. And hence they lost their


Other characters in these plays show parallels in their plots.

Both plays have a main character that portrays the king of that

country. In Hamlet, the King of Denmark, Claudius is directly related

to Hamlet. He is his uncle, and also his mother’s new husband.

However, in Macbeth the King of Scotland, King Duncan, is not

directly related to the main character.
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