full title · The Tragedy of Macbeth
author · William Shakespeare
type of work · Play
genre · Tragedy
language · English
time and place written · 1606, England
date of first publication · First Folio edition, 1623
publisher · John Heminges and Henry Condell, two senior members of Shakespeare’s theatrical company
tone · Dark and ominous, suggestive of a world turned topsy-turvy by foul and unnatural crimes
tense · Not applicable (drama)
setting (time) · The Middle Ages, specifically the eleventh century
setting (place) · Various locations in Scotland; also England, briefly
protagonist · Macbeth
major conflicts · The struggle within Macbeth between his ambition and his sense of right and wrong; the struggle between the murderous evil represented by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and the best interests of the nation, represented by Malcolm and Macduff
rising action · Macbeth and Banquo’s encounter with the witches initiates both conflicts; Lady Macbeth’s speeches goad Macbeth into murdering Duncan and seizing the crown.
climax · Macbeth’s murder of Duncan in Act 2 represents the point of no return, after which Macbeth is forced to continue butchering his subjects to avoid the consequences of his crime.
falling action · Macbeth’s increasingly brutal murders (of Duncan’s servants, Banquo, Lady Macduff and her son); Macbeth’s second meeting with the witches; Macbeth’s final confrontation with Macduff and the opposing armies
themes · The corrupting nature of unchecked ambition; the relationship between cruelty and masculinity; the difference between kingship and tyranny
motifs · The supernatural, hallucinations, violence, prophecy
symbols · Blood; the dagger that Macbeth sees just before he kills Duncan in Act 2; the weather
foreshadowing · The bloody battle in Act 1 foreshadows the bloody murders later on; when Macbeth thinks he hears a voice while killing Duncan, it foreshadows the insomnia that plagues Macbeth and his wife; Macduff’s suspicions of Macbeth after Duncan’s murder foreshadow his later opposition to Macbeth; all of the witches’ prophecies foreshadow later events.