What we may learn from a tragedy

We can extract several messages from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The play is a tragedy, and therefore we know from the start that this will end badly. In this way, the play is instructive about how we should go about certain things in life, such as our own ambition or ability to recognize our own faults. In the paragraphs below, we outline some of these instructions, or messages.

It should perhaps be added that Shakespeare sought to entertain as well as educate his audience. The fact that his plays do both at the same time adds to their popularity.

Power corrupts

You may know the saying that “power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely”. This fits well with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Macbeth starts out as the loyal thane of Glamis, but once he is also pronounced thane of Cawdor, his ambition grows. The witches’ prophecy of greatness makes him seize absolute power and become King of Scotland. The problem is that he did not earn the crown like he earned his titles of thane. Eventually, this eats away at his conscience, and he loses the ability to sleep.

Macbeth’s problems are not just inner problems. After the mur...

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