Role Of Motifs In Macbeth

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Motifs, which are recurring elements in a story, are found in a large variety of literary works. Motifs usually either add to and emphasize the theme, or they are used as characterization, such as Juliet’s motif of being married to death in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Likewise, one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays, Macbeth, is filled with motifs. Two motifs found throughout Macbeth are the definition of a man and light vs. dark/ good vs. evil. One recurring motif in Macbeth is the definition of man, and is developed through emphasizing the male role in a relationship or a man’s dignity and honor. In 1.7, Lady Macbeth repudiates Macbeth’s masculinity when he questions killing the king by telling him “What beast was’t then/ That made you break this enterprise to me?/ When you durst do it, then you were a man” (1.1.41). Macbeth was…show more content…
Men are supposed to be brave and courageous- they reside in “the male realm of power and politics with, in the eyes of the true-blooded men to whom that world properly belongs ” (Long [54]-64). Similarly, women are shown to be a weakness throughout the play. Lady Macbeth herself even calls upon the spirits to “unsex me here”, to remove her feminine qualities so that she may be filled with the cruelty of man (1.5.40). The characters that ultimately survive until the end are shown as being removed from women in some shape or form, as Michael Long states, “The young saviour, Malcolm, is not only a man but a man ‘yet/Unknown to woman’; the avenging warrior, Macduff, is not only a man but a man not ‘of woman born’” (Long [54]-64). The definition of man that is developed puts the male gender on a pedestal, making them out to be brave and strong, with endless cruelty and few grains of kindness. Throughout Macbeth, there is a constant struggle between the forces of good and evil/ light and dark. Although there is no outright antagonist in Macbeth, according to Anne Marie Hacht, “The particular
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