YMMV: Macbeth

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: As usual with Shakespeare, there are an absurd number of ways everyone can be portrayed, and which comes across most strongly depends in large part upon the production or the reader.
    • Macduff appears to be the valiant hero of the play, and yet he leaves the country to find Malcolm when he must know that by doing so he not only leaves his family more vulnerable, but gives Macbeth the suspicion of himself that causes him to murder them in the first place.
    • The Complete Pelican Shakespeare includes a fascinating essay before each play, and the one for Macbeth paints a convincing portrat of a noted alternate interpretation of Duncan, which is that he plays the saint but is in actuality a cunning bastard who killed and cheated his way to the top and is merely feigning a belief in the divinity of his family's kingship. The essay specifically compares him to Edmond from King Lear in a scenario where Edmond survived to an older age.
    • Roman Polanski's film interpretation has a rather cynical interpretation of the characters Ross and Donalbain.
    • How about just throwing out the play's depiction of the witches as crones and interpreting them as standard Hecate Sisters? After all, their name is mentioned several times in the dialogue.
    • Was Duncan a good king or was he just a tyrant and everyone else who were loyal to him just loyalists?
    • According to Sassy Gay Friend, Lady Macbeth doesn't particularly want to be queen... she's just sick of being a Housewife.
    Sassy Gay Friend: Lady, you need a hobby or an orgasm, stat.
    Lady Macbeth: (breaking down in tears) I really... I really just need a job!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Lady Macbeth. While no means a minor character, she just kinds of disappeared after convinced Macbeth to go through with the murder and only pops in and out throughout the play to show how much guilt has destroyed her. And yet, she is THE most famous female character created by Shakespeare, on par with Juliet (and the most sought out roles for actresses who want to break into acting), with hundreds of articles analyzing her unusually pro-active role. Not to mention her famous line (see Memetic Mutation below). Really, it's more easy to find promo materials featured her than her own husband. She that's popular. No wonder later productions tend to give her a few more scenes than the original.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Lady Macbeth is often played this way.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Don't follow your wife's advice. It's just asking for trouble.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: In a mild example, many productions choose to omit the character of Hecate completely, partly because of the theory that her scene was actually written by Thomas Middleton.
  • Faux Symbolism: Macbeth's personal servant in Act 5 is called Seyton. Guess how it's pronounced. If you guessed like the way one of the Devil's name is then you are wrong. It is actually pronounced See-tin, in contrast to Say-tin, but thanks to No Pronunciation Guide many are likely to pronounce the name incorrectly.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The three witches.
  • Memetic Mutation: The entire "Double double, toil and trouble" chant.
  • Moral Event Horizon: If Macbeth hadn't already crossed this with the murder of Duncan and Banquo, he fair waltzes over it by ordering the deaths of MacDuff's family.
  • Narm: Rather infamously, the death of Macduff's son loses some of its dramatic impact due to the murderer's bizarre insult “What, you egg!”, as well as the son’s blunt declaration after being stabbed: “He has killed me, mother.”
  • Nightmare Fuel: For James I.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • The Sergeant only appears in one scene in the entire play, but his speech to Duncan—where he recounts Macbeth and Banquo's victory on the battlefield—is considered one of the play's most memorable monologues.
    • The Porter, appearing out of nowhere with a horrifyingly timed comic disquisition on drunkenness, is another.
  • The Scrappy: Hecate, for many (see Fanon Discontinuity). Part of the reason that many productions cut her out (in addition to the theory that Shakespeare didn't mean to include her) is that she just doesn't serve any clear narrative purpose, and that her dialogue is composed entirely of forced, awkward rhymes.
  • Squick: Lady Macbeth's remark about smashing an infant's skull after ripping it from her breast.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: Middleton's additions to the play.
  • The Woobie: First Duncan, then Macduff.