Macbeth Symbols, Motifs, & Themes

Updated: 6/29/2018
Macbeth Symbols, Motifs, & Themes
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Themes Symbols Motifs Lesson Plans

Reading Between the Lines: Themes, Symbols, & Motifs

By Rebecca Ray

One of the beautiful things about stories are the underlying lessons, morals, or critiques they contain. Teaching students to identify these hidden messages brings greater depth to their literary experiences. Storyboarding is a great way to teach the concept of themes, symbols, or motifs. It allow the visuals or symbols to tell the stories, making the ideas easy for students to understand and expound upon. With storyboards, students can reflect abstract ideas in a concrete manner, a useful tool for middle school or high school students.
Macbeth Play Lesson Plans

The Tragedy of Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray

The Tragedy of Macbeth is one of William Shakespeare's best-known works. The shortest (and one of the bloodiest) of Shakespeare's tragedies, the story begins with victory and honors for the brave Scottish general, Macbeth. The play follows Macbeth's descent from noble soldier to nefarious traitor.


The Tragedy of Macbeth

Storyboard Description

Macbeth Symbolism, Motifs, & Themes

Storyboard Text

  • BLOOD
  • The blood that was split because of Macbeth's ambition continuously reappears as a physical reminder that he cannot wash away his evil deeds.
  • EXAMPLE 1
  • EXAMPLE 2
  • GHOSTS
  • Macbeth sees a bloody dagger floating in the air just before he kills the king.
  • Lady Macbeth hallucinates blood on her hands and walks around the castle yelling, "out damn spot, out!" She attempts to wash it off, but her efforts are in vain.
  • For Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, ghosts are reminders of the decisions they have made, decisions that haunt each of them.
  • Lady Macbeth states that she cannot kill King Duncan because he resembled her father as he slept.
  • Macbeth breaks down at the feast after seeing what he believes is Banquo's ghost.
  • THE SUPERNATURAL
  • The Three Weird Sisters are the foremost example of the supernatural throughout the play.
  • Fair is foul and foul is fair!
  • Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane Hill Shall come against him (4.1.87-90).
  • In Act 1, the Three Witches predict that Macbeth will become King and that even though Banquo will never be King, his bloodline will inherit the throne.
  • In Act 4, the Three Witches are visited by Macbeth. They give him three more prophecies, which are intentionally ambiguous.