Table of contents:
- Introduction and thesis
- Body paragraphs
If you want to write an expository essay about the play Macbeth and want to know how to start, it’s important to get your statement of purpose, or thesis, figured out first. An expository essay, remember, is based on factual information, endeavouring to explain to the reader something they might not know already.
Introduction and thesis
First, start with an introduction, including a hook straight away to get your readers’ attention. Then you can approach your topic in one of five different ways: problem/solution, comparison, how-to, descriptive, and cause/effect. At this point you should write a thesis statement, or statement of purpose, explaining the main topic or point of your essay.
Here are a few samples of ideas for thesis statements about Macbeth.
Thesis idea 1: Macbeth’s character is the example of a tragic hero, someone who rises to the top and then because of his own fatal flaws, dooms himself to failure and death.
Thesis idea 2: Between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, she’s the one who is truly evil, as her ambition pushes Macbeth to go far beyond his own moral judgement.
Thesis idea 3: The themes of Macbeth in the full play include ambition, pride, betrayal, guilt, and the difference between appearances and reality.
Thesis idea 4: The three witches predict Macbeth’s future, but is that future his fate, or did his own free will play a part?
Thesis idea 5: When Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, a prophecy is fulfilled, but Macbeth’s assumptions have doomed him.
As you move on into the body of your expository essay, each new paragraph should serve as a new point you are making, with the evidence to back your point in the paragraph itself. You should have at least three points in the essay body, and it’s a good idea to start by sitting down to outline the structure of your essay before you even begin writing it.
For example, if you are talking about the points in the play where free will contends with fate, you might talk about Macbeth’s decision to kill Duncan in one paragraph, and the fulfilment of the prediction about Macbeth being killed by someone ‘not born of woman’ in another, and then Macbeth’s own beliefs and assumptions about what Birnam Wood coming to Dunsinane means, and how that itself plays a part in his downfall, in yet another.
As you finish making the points you’ve previously outlined, it’s time to start thinking about a conclusion. To conclude your essay, briefly revisit all the points you’ve made, and then restate your thesis demonstrating what you’ve learned. If the thesis statement at the beginning of the essay is a question, then this should be the answer.
For instance, a conclusion to the thesis above about fate versus free will might look like: “Both fate and Macbeth’s own choices play a part in his rise to kingship and his downfall. As he consistently makes bad choices, the more negative parts of his fate begin to take over. He is truly doomed by his own hand, and the fate that was foretold for him could have been avoided if he’d chosen otherwise.”
Now you have the tools to write a great expository essay about Macbeth, so think about what aspect of the play captures your attention the most, and write about that.