Macbeth Comparative Essay Topics

Below you will find five outstanding thesis statements for Macbeth by William Shakespeare that can be used as essay starters or paper topics. All five incorporate at least one of the themes found in Macbeth and are broad enough so that it will be easy to find textual support, yet narrow enough to provide a focused clear thesis statement. These thesis statements offer a short summary of William Shakespeare's Macbeth in terms of different elements that could be important in an essay. You are, of course, free to add your own analysis and understanding of the plot or themes to them for your essay. Using the essay topics below in conjunction with the list of important quotes from Macbeth at the bottom of the page, you should have no trouble connecting with the text and writing an excellent essay.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #1: The Power of Power

One of the most profound and disturbing themes in Shakespeare’s Macbeth involves the power that power exerts over an individual who has ascended to a post of authority. Under the influence of unchecked power, Macbeth takes actions that have serious and devastating consequences for himself and for other characters in the play. Once Macbeth has committed an act in which he uses power for negative ends, he finds it increasingly difficult to restrain himself from resorting to the perverted use of power. Ultimately, it his inability to distinguish the adaptive and maladaptive functions of power from one another that prevents him from realizing his potential greatness.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #2: The Role of Witches in Macbeth

Macbeth introduces an element of fantasy into the normal tragedy narrative through the characters of the witches. The witches are important figures in the play, as their function is both to predict Macbeth’s fate and to signal to the reader what is to come. Far from serving as a distracting element, the witches help focus the reader on some of the darker and more sinister aspects of the play. Shakespeare’s use of this fantasy element is effective as a narrative technique.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #3: The Role of Lady Macbeth

Lady Macbeth is a character who makes an easy reading and interpretation of the play impossible. Like many female characters, Lady Macbeth was cast into a role not entirely of her own choosing; however, like her husband, she finds that once she is on the path of darkness, it is impossible for her to turn back. In fact, Lady Macbeth becomes even more bloodthirsty than her husband, and she encourages him to use his power to perpetrate violence against others. A character analysis of Lady Macbeth reveals that she is a complex character who adds depth to an otherwise straightforward play about power dynamics.

Thesis Statement / Essay Topic #4: Thesis Statement/Essay Topic #5: Blood Imagery in Macbeth

Violence and the bloodshed that results are important symbols in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. While the blood that is shed is a tangible reminder of the outcomes of misused power, it also serves as an image that provokes Macbeth to reflect upon his deeds, even if he does not change his behavior. Macbeth becomes obsessed with the blood on his hands. Unfortunately, this reminder of his guilt does not prevent him from continuing violent acts.


This list of important quotations from Macbeth by William Shakespeare will help you work with the essay topics and thesis statements above by allowing you to support your claims. All of the important quotes from Macbeth listed here correspond, at least in some way, to the paper topics above and by themselves can give you great ideas for an essay by offering quotes and explanations about other themes, symbols, imagery, and motifs than those already mentioned and explained. Aside from the thesis statements above, these quotes alone can act as essay questions or study questions as they are all relevant to the text in an important way. All quotes contain page numbers as well. Look at the bottom of the page to identify which edition of Macbeth by William Shakespeare they are referring to.

“Let not light see my black and deep desires…." (I.iv.51)

“Yet I do fear thy nature. It is too full o the milk of human kindness….Thou wouldst be great, Art not without ambition, but without The illness should attend it." (I.v.16-20).

“Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe

topful of direst cruelty!" (I.v.41-43).

“…We but teach bloody instructions, which, being taught, return To plague th’ inventor" (I.vii.8-10)

“O horror, horror, horror! Tongue nor heart Cannot conceive nor name thee!" (II.iii.63-64)

“[B]lood will have blood." (III.v.121)

“I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing To those that know me." (III.v.85-86)

“Something wicked this way comes." (IV.1.45)

“The spirits that know All mortal consequences have pronounc’d me thus: ‘Fear not, Macbeth, no man that’s born of woman Shall e’er have power upon thee.’" (V.iii.6-7)

“The time approaches That will with due decision make us know What we shall say we have, and what we owe." (V.iv.17-19).

Reference: Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. In Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. In The Riverside Shakespeare. Eds. G. Blakemore Evans and J.J.M. Tobin. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 1360-1390.
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20 Tips And Ideas For Writing An Argumentative Essay On Macbeth 

Macbeth is one of the most famous plays and stories in the history of English Literature. It can be an excellent subject for an argumentative essay. Keep these 20 tips and ideas in mind for a top grade Macbeth essay:

  1. When choosing a topic for an argumentative essay on Macbeth, you should choose a topic that has two clear sides that could be argued. This will help simplify the process of refining your argument.
  2. Use these strategies to help you come up with an interesting aspect to argue, and keep in mind that you can always argue in inverse:

  3. Choose a character in the play and form your argument from their viewpoint
  4. Think about how the relationship between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth different from the viewpoints of different characters in the play.
  5. Ask how does the theme of ambition manifest itself differently for different characters in the play.
  6. Ask yourself how power plays a role in the relationships between characters and in the argument that you are making.
  7. Choose an argument that would be argued by one gender of characters in the play
  8. Use these topic ideas:

  9. Argue that the witches play an important role in the play in that they introduce the possibility of magic or the supernatural into the plot.
  10. Argue that Macbeth, Macduff, and Banquo are all versions of the same person.
  11. Argue that the technique of elision was crucial to the success of the play.
  12. Argue that justice was not served at the end of the play.
  13. Argue that Macbeth was a moral play and was meant to pass on a message of morality to audiences.
  14. Argue that blood is actually a symbol for something else in Macbeth.
  15. Argue that the minor characters in Macbeth are more important than the main characters in the story.
  16. Argue whether the witch’s prophecy to Banquo revealed anything about his character that we didn’t already know.
  17. Argue that Macbeth’s actions were primarily motivated by his fear of the supernatural.
  18. Argue whether the historical liberties that Shakespeare took in Macbeth enhanced the story.
  19. Argue that Lady Macbeth is more responsible for King Duncan’s murder than Macbeth himself.
  20. Argue that Macbeth’s mental deterioration through the play influenced the outcome of events.
  21. Argue that Macbeth’s speech upon hearing of his wife’s death ran counter to the major themes that are portrayed through the rest of the play.
  22. Argue that Macbeth was essentially a self fulfilling prophecy.
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