Macbeth Essays On Betrayal

Summary: Essay provides a look at the reoccuring theme of loyalty in William Shakespeare's "Macbeth."


In many of Shakespeare's plays the notion of loyalty acts as a central theme. However, in many of his plays, with loyalty comes betrayal. Macbeth is no different. In this play, betrayal not only creates the power in which many characters indulge in, but also their downfalls.

Betrayal is a very important part of Macbeth because it is the driving force behind all of the changes in power in the play. The earliest example of betrayal serving as a impetus in power change is in Act 1, Scene 2, when Macbeth is rewarded for his loyalty to the king while the Thane of Cawdor is stripped of his title because of his betrayal of the king. At this point in the play Macbeth, along with Banquo, a general of King Duncan's army and a friend of Macbeth's, still exhibits great loyalty to the king. Since there is still a strong...

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Betrayal is a huge part of Macbeth. The play opens with a battle that is being fought because two of the Thanes (Lords) who are supposed to be serving King Duncan have turned against him.  In the first act of the play, he has put down the rebellion.

So, in this opening of the play and throughout the rest of the play, betrayal is motivated by a desire for power, to gain status, and for...

Betrayal is a huge part of Macbeth. The play opens with a battle that is being fought because two of the Thanes (Lords) who are supposed to be serving King Duncan have turned against him.  In the first act of the play, he has put down the rebellion.

So, in this opening of the play and throughout the rest of the play, betrayal is motivated by a desire for power, to gain status, and for Macbeth, the central figure who betrays many, the desire to become and remain King.

Macbeth betrays King Duncan (to whom he has sworn allegiance) by killing him when he is a guest at his home.  Why?  To gain the crown that Duncan wears.  He also betrays his friend Banquo. Why?  To retain the power and position of being King.  The witches had prophesied that Banquo's children would be kings, and Macbeth wants to prevent this by killing Banquo and his son Fleance.  He misses Fleance, but gets Banquo.

And you could also make a case that Macbeth betrays Macduff when he murders his family.  Why?  He is afraid that Macduff will be the agent of his fall from power.

So, Macbeth is the main betrayer in the play, and his motivation is the gaining and maintaining of power.

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