Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Chad Thomas

Committee Member

Joseph Taylor

Committee Member

Jeffrey Nelson


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)--Macbeth, Moderation in literature, Temperance in literature, Ethics in literature


In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Macbeth insists, “Th’expedition of my violent love / Outran the pauser, reason” (2.3.107-108). These lines can be attributed to Macbeth’s penchant for excess that overpowers his ability to reason. Reason allows men to live harmoniously within a community, and the early modern era constructed safeguards to ensure men acted within prescribed conventions to prevent the collapse of the government. In this thesis, I will address Macbeth’s inability to reason due to his immoderacy and the resulting consequences to the state. Thus, this paper argues that the behavioral extremes depicted by Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are detrimental to the domestic and political arenas and justify the moderate behavioral boundaries set in place by the early modern society. Such a reading illustrates the harmful effect one individual’s behavior has on the state, and the modern world may be reminded of the perils of ceding reason for desire.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.