Macbeth - Themes overview

Themes are ideas that run all the way through a literary text. By analysing them you can better understand the writer's intentions. What choices have they made? Why? What are they trying to get the reader to think and feel? Analysing themes allows you to write in detail about a literary text.

Themes of Macbeth, showing a trophy being held to represent ambition, a witch dropping a frog's leg into a bubbling cauldron to show the supernatural, and a split face to show gender equality

In Macbeth there are many themes which could be analysed. Three main ones are:

  • ambition and power
  • the supernatural
  • appearances and reality

Shakespeare also investigated these themes in a number of other plays such as Julius Caesar, Hamlet, The Tempest and Othello.