Macbeth is an extremely powerful play. It's full of intense and emotional dialogue and some of its scenes are downright iconic (the opening scene, Banquo's ghost crashing the party, Lady Macbeth trying to scrub her hands clean). At the time Macbeth was written the House of Tudor was no longer on the English throne and it was King James I of the Scottish House of Stuart who reigned. Shakespeare probably wrote Macbeth as a present for the king. The Stuarts believed themselves to be the descendants of Banquo and James I was obsessed with the supernatural. James would have certainly found the play interesting because when it comes to the supernatural the play completely delivers. It's got storms, menacing witches, ghosts covered in blood, prophecies, omens, murder, and an ominous and eerie atmosphere throughout. As someone who loves gothic literature I thought this was just marvellous! :)
As a character, Macbeth is both fascinating and despicable. At the start of the play he seems decent enough but his insecurities about his masculinity and the pressure from his ruthlessly ambitious wife drives him into doing some appalling acts of violence. By the end of the play he's become a paranoid, homicidal lunatic. Lady Macbeth isn't all that much better although interestingly she does show some signs of genuine remorse towards the end. By far the most sympathetic character in the play is Macduff. It's really not long before you'll start rooting for the man to take Macbeth down.
Macbeth isn't my favourite out of the Shakespearean tragedies that I've read so far. This is partly because of the way that the "No man born of a woman" conclusion is handled. It's... well surely I can't be only one who thinks it's a bit weak?! And even in the time that the play is set I'm sure that a caesarian would still have counted as being "born of a woman!" But I still think that Macbeth is a brilliant play. I don't rate it as highly as Hamlet and Othello, which are my favourite Shakespeare tragedies, but I like it slightly more than Coriolanus and a lot more than Romeo and Juliet and King Lear. It's a powerful story about evil and how we can be consumed by it.
P.S. Recently I also watched a filmed stage production of the play from 1981. It starred Jeremy Brett and Piper Laurie as Macbeth and his wife. I've never seen Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes but I do really love his performances in My Fair Lady and the BBC's Rebecca so I was looking forward to seeing him as Macbeth. But oh dear! Unfortunately the production is hampered by some horrible direction. Scenes which should have been creepy I found unintentionally hilarious! I didn't like Piper Laurie as Lady Macbeth. In fact most of the actors in this production were bad and the only scenes that I actually liked were Brett's solo scenes and soliloquies. Such a pity. I'm really excited about seeing the upcoming Michael Fassbender-Marion Cotillard Macbeth film though! :)