Most commonly assigned as required reading for high school and college students, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. The play is set in medieval Scotland and chronicles the rise and fall of its eponymous protagonist, Macbeth, who murders his way to the throne but is ultimately undone by his ambition and paranoia.
While Macbeth can be a challenging read, it is also one of the most rewarding, offering a complex and multi-layered exploration of themes like ambition, morality, and fate.
If you are tasked with writing an essay on Macbeth, there are many possible essay writing formats you can use to analyze, compare, summarize, and discuss the play. This guide will walk you through writing a Macbeth essay and provide 30 Macbeth essay topics to get you started on your next writing assignment.
Argumentative Essay Writing for Macbeth
An argumentative essay is a type of essay that asks you to take a position on a given issue or question. Argumentative essays are common assignments in high school and college, especially in literature courses.
In an argumentative essay about Macbeth, you will take one position on one of the play’s many themes and argue for your interpretation using specific evidence from the text.
Argumentative essay topics for Macbeth need to include both sides of the argument and should be framed as a question. For example, “Is Macbeth a tragic hero?” or “What is the role of gender in Macbeth?”
Once you have chosen your topic, you will need to find evidence from the play to support your position. Be sure to cite specific lines and passages from the text as evidence in your essay.
Comparative Essay Writing for Macbeth
Comparative essays ask you to compare and contrast two or more things such as characters, themes, motifs, plot elements, etc. A comparative essay about Macbeth can take many different forms, but one common approach is to compare the characters of Macbeth and Banquo.
When writing a comparative essay about Macbeth and Banquo, you will want to consider how they are similar and different. What motivates them? How do they react to the events of the play? Are they good or evil? You can also compare and contrast other pairs of characters, such as Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff or Duncan and Malcolm.
Persuasive Essay About Macbeth
In a persuasive essay, your goal as the writer is to convince your reader to agree with your position on a given issue or question. Like an argumentative essay, you will want to use evidence from the play to support your claims.
When writing a persuasive essay about Macbeth, you can take a position on anything from whether or not Macbeth is a tragic hero to what motivates the characters in the play.
Unlike an argumentative essay on Macbeth, a persuasive essay about the play will need to be heavily opinionated to make a convincing argument. Be sure to take a clear and definitive stance on your chosen topic, and use specific evidence from the play to support your claims.
Narrative Essay About Macbeth
A narrative essay is a type of essay that tells a story. In a narrative essay about Macbeth, you will be asked to recount and describe an event or series of events from the play. Your goal in a narrative essay is not to take a position or argue a point but simply to tell the story in an engaging and interesting way.
Formatting Citations for a Macbeth Essay
Since you will need to cite directly from the play to back up the arguments and comparisons drawn from the play, it’s essential to understand the correct formatting for quotations from Macbeth.
If you are asked to write in MLA formatting (standard at most educational institutions), each quotation will need to be ended with the speaker’s name in italics, followed by the act, scene number, and line number(s) in parentheses.
“…Creeps in this petty pace from day to day” (Macbeth 5.5.17-28).
If the quoted text is more than one line, be sure to separate each verse with a forward slash as follows:
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day” (Macbeth 5.5.17-28).
If the quoted text is part of a conversation, use block quotations by indenting each line of the quoted text 1″ from the left margin (hit the TAB button twice). Additionally, you’ll need to capitalize all of the letters in the name. End the quote with the plays name, act, and scene number as follows:
HAMLET. To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them… (Hamlet 3.1.56-60)
You’ll notice that after the initial 1″ margin, each subsequent line will also need an additional indentation. If quoting dialogue from two or more people, each person should start with capital letters and an indented 1″ margin:
FIRST WITCH. When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
SECOND WITCH. When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won. (Macbeth 1.1.1-4)
30 Macbeth Essay Topics
With the vast amount of information and things to discuss in the play Macbeth, it can be hard to narrow it all down to one topic. But, with this list of 30 Macbeth essay topics, you should have no trouble coming up with an essay to fit your needs.
- How does Macbeth’s character change throughout the play?
- Is Macbeth a tragic hero? Why or why not?
- Who is most responsible for Macbeth’s downfall?
- Discuss the role of gender in Macbeth.
- Is ambition a positive or negative trait? Use examples from Macbeth to support your claim.
- How does Shakespeare use the supernatural in Macbeth?
- Discuss the role of fate in Macbeth.
- Compare and contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship.
- Discuss the role of deception in Macbeth.
- What motivates the characters in Macbeth?
- Is violence ever justified? Use examples from Macbeth to support your claim.
- Discuss the theme of ambition in Macbeth.
- Compare and contrast the characters of Macbeth and Banquo.
- Discuss the theme of power in Macbeth.
- Discuss the theme of loyalty in Macbeth.
- What is the significance of the witches in Macbeth?
- How does Shakespeare use foreshadowing in Macbeth?
- Discuss the role of greed in Macbeth.
- What is the significance of Macbeth’s soliloquies?
- Discuss the theme of betrayal in Macbeth.
- Compare and contrast Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s attitudes toward power.
- Discuss the theme of sanity vs. insanity in Macbeth.
- Discuss the theme of appearance vs. reality in Macbeth.
- How does Shakespeare use irony in Macbeth?
- What is the significance of blood in Macbeth?
- Discuss the theme of corruption in Macbeth.
- What is the significance of nature vs. nurture in Macbeth?
- Discuss the theme of good vs. evil in Macbeth.
- How does Shakespeare use foreshadowing in Macbeth?
- What is the significance of the title “Macbeth”?
With these Macbeth essay topics, you should have no trouble coming up with an essay to fit your needs. Remember to cite all quotes and paraphrases from the play Macbeth and use MLA format.