Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literay work.
The Corrupting Power of Unchecked Ambition
The main theme of Macbeth- the destruction arought when ambition goes unchecked by moral contraints finds its most powerful expression in the two main characters. Macbeth is a courageous Scottish general who is not naturally inclined to commit evil deeds, yet he deeply desires power and advancement. He kills Duncan against his better judgement and afterward stews in guilt and _______________. Toward the end of the play he descends into a kind of frantic, boastful manner. Lady Macbeth, however, pursues her goal with greater determination, yet she is less capable of withstanding the repercussions of her immoral act. One of Shakespere's most forcefully drawn female characters, she spurs her husband mercilessly to kill Duncan, and urges him to be stong in the muders aftermath, but she is eventually driven to distraction by the effect of Macbeth's repeated bloodshed on her conscience.
In each case, ambition,- helped of course by the prophecies of the witches- is what drives the couple to ever more evil atrocities. The problem, the play suggests, is that once one decides to use violence to further ones quest for power, it's hard to stop. There're always potential treats to the throne- Banquo, Fleance, Macduff- and it's always tempting to use violent means to dispose of them.
The Relationship Between Cruelty and Masculinity
Characters in Macbeth frequently dwell on issues of gender. Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband by questioning his manhood, wishes that she herself could be "unsexed", and does not contradict Macbeth when he says that a woman like her should give birth to only boys. In the same manner that Lady Macbeth goads her husband on to murder, Macbeth provokes the murderers he hires...