How far do you agree with the view that Macbeth is a very moral play about the punishment of sin?
The theme of morality is strong in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ as is the theme of punishment, but to say that the play is only about the punishment of sin does not cover many aspects of morality present in the play. Sin is indeed punished, through both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s madness, but morality includes many other characters and interpretations of the play.
A prime example of sins being punished would be Macbeth himself. Even before the sin –killing Duncan- is committed, Macbeth has visions of a ‘dagger’ that he sees before him. The dagger serves as a precursor to the murder, as it is a tool for killing, but more interesting is its inclusion in the first place. It is unclear whether Shakespeare intended for the dagger to be present or not on the stage- this is because it has different meanings depending on if it is there or not. If it is present, such as in the Polanski representation Macbeth, it can be seen as an element of the supernatural and thus is not relevant for the sake of this argument. However, it is not present, such as in Gould’s representation, it suggests that the dagger is a vision only seen by Macbeth-the onset of his madness due to his imminent sin. Then villains worsen after the murder, with another example being the ghost of Banquo at the feast. Macbeth has committed sin by ordering the death of Banquo, and is punished by his grotesque vision of his ghost, with its ‘gory locks’. This is significant in the play overall, as it occurs at the climax of the play. This is the point at which others begin to question his sanity and thus highlights that his sanity being lost is punishment for his sins, for both the audience and the other characters in the play. This therefore shows that the play is moral and that the play is about the punishment of sins.
However, things are not that simple. If Macbeth is to be deemed a ‘very moral play’ and about the...