The Use of Themes and Motifs in Macbeth Essay

The Use of Themes and Motifs in Macbeth Essay

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Despite the fact that Macbeth was written a few hundred years ago, many of the themes and motifs used in the play are still considered effective literary devices in today’s world. Shakespeare uses his themes and motifs very effectively. First, Macbeth uses the theme of sleep very effectively in many scenes of the play. Second, Shakespeare uses the clothing and garden motifs, which are two very powerful motifs to reinforce our visualization and understanding of parts of the play. Lastly, the main theme of the play, “fair is foul and foul is fair” is seen constantly throughout the play. These themes and motifs all contribute to the effectiveness of Shakespeare’s writing.
During the play, sleep is a reoccurring theme of the play. In the play, sleep is referred to as death’s counterfeit because of the similarity in appearance of when a person is sleeping and when they are dead. Shakespeare uses this theme to reinforce many speeches of characters in the play. Such as when just after Macduff discovers King Duncan is dead, he tells the surrounding people to “shake off their downy sleep, death’s counterfeit”. As well, when Macbeth murders King Duncan, he “murders” his own sleep because from then on he would not be able to sleep because of hallucinations in his mind of his murders. And, along with “murdering” his own sleep, he does so to the sleep of others, in particular, his wife Lady Macbeth. At the end of the play, Lady Macbeth starts to go crazy and is sleepwalking while unconscious of her actions. It may look like Lady Macbeth is receiving both the benefit of sleep and completing tasks that would require one to be awake, but in reality she isn’t sleeping at all and slowly deteriorates to the point of when she commits suicide. Macbe...


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...e people in theatre crowds a few hundred years ago and now people from everywhere in the world. The themes used in Macbeth have endured the test of time until today and will probably remain in our literature for students or anyone alike for years to come. The theme of sleep is used quite effectively to decorate the speeches of characters in Macbeth. The garden and clothing motif both add to the imagery of the play and our understanding of the play. Lastly, a central theme of the play, “fair is foul and foul is fair” is used periodically throughout the play. Shakespeare has made effective use of his themes and motifs throughout the play by incorporating them into even the dullest part of our day where we do nothing for 7-10 hours, the speech of characters descriptions of people, objects or places and as well as moral lessons that have been around since ancient times.

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