Macbeth not only is the shortest of William Shakespeare’s great tragedies but also is anomalous in some structural references . Like Othello, the Moor of Venice and unlike other Shakespearean plays, Macbeth is without the complex of a subplot. Consequently, the action moves forward in a swift and inexorable rush. More significantly, the climax (the murder of Duncan) takes place precociously. As a result, attention is focused on the various outcomes of the crime rather than on the ambiguities or moral dilemmas that had antecede and occasioned it. In this, the play varies from Othello, where the hero commits murder only after long plotting and from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, where the hero spends most of the play in moral wavering. Macbeth is more like King Lear , where calamitous action flows from the central premise of the division of the kingdom. However, Macbeth varies from that play too, in that it does not raise the monumental, cosmic questions of good and wicked in nature. In lieu, it explores the virtuous and psychological effects of evil in the life of one man. For all the authority and eminence of Lady Macbeth, the drama remains essentially the story of the lord who commits regicide and thereby entangles himself in a complex web of consequences.
When Macbeth first enters, he is far from the fiend whose experiences the play subsequently describes. He has just returned from a monumental military success in defence of the Crown. He is rewarded by the grateful Duncan, with advancement as thane of Cawdor. This honour, which initially qualifies him for the role of hero, ironically accentuates the atrocity of the murder Macbeth soon commits.