A List Of Unexplored Essay Topics For Macbeth
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is one of the most-loved - and most-studied - plays written in the English language. As such, it is often difficult to find new and interesting things to discuss. This does not mean, however, that there are not unexplored avenues for study.
- “Resonances of ancient philosophical thought in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.”
- “How does a modern pagan audience react to the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Why?”
- “To what extent do the minor characters of Macbeth fit into the same character ‘types’ or ‘stereotypes’ as those of Shakespeare’s other plays?”
- “How would audiences (or, in particular, women/men/children) from the 1800s have received Shakespeare’s Macbeth?”
- “Identify resonances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in modern television shows and explain the different effects they have.”
Shakespeare did not write in a vacuum: he had inspirations and often even stole whole plots from other, earlier writers. Comparing ‘original’ themes from earlier works with those of Macbeth is a fruitful area of study. Particularly understudied is the plays’ ancient philosophical aspect. Shakespeare drew primarily on the work written by Seneca, a Roman philosopher. Investigating how Seneca’s thoughts are reflected throughout this play is an intriguing and unexplored subject area.
Shakespeare’s witches are a much-studied topic. However, not every facet of their use has been studied extensively. Exploring the modern reaction to and understanding of characters, situations and relationships is an intriguing new way to view old plays, because what is ‘current’ is always changing. This also works for viewing the play from a feminist perspective, for example.
Comparing Shakespeare to Shakespeare is a very exciting area of study, and one that is continually expanding. It is possible to explore, for instance, the primary role of minor characters in the plot and determine to what extent this determines their entire personality and/or development (or lack thereof!). Comparing these observations with those regarding other minor characters from other makes for a unique study.
Just as we can view and explore a play through the lens of the present, so, too, can we see it through the prism of the past. This is a little more tricky because extensive knowledge of the particular period is needed, but it is certainly possible. There was a lot of study about reactions to Shakespeare when he was writing and nowadays, but work on other time periods is not commonly found!
Television is a relatively new medium re-using older and familiar motifs. As such, there are plenty of ideas and themes from all of Shakespeare’s plays running throughout many modern television programmes. Identifying these and exploring how and why they are still relevant in today’s society is a complex topic, but intriguing.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of unexplored essay topics for Shakespeare’s Macbeth, but it is a good place to start. It also clearly demonstrates that, as popular as this play is, and as many essays are written about it, there will always be new and exciting ways to explore this immortal piece of writing.