How Is Evil Portrayed In Macbeth Essay

How Is Evil Portrayed In Macbeth? Essay, Research Paper

In this essay I shall be looking at the

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way evil is portrayed in Shakespeare?s play, Macbeth. I will be concentrating

on the characters in the play that contribute to the evil themes of the play.

It is clear from the start of the play that the witches are the main source of

evil. ?????????????????? ? The witches have an enormous effect on the

play, not only are they evil, but this is emphasised by the strong feelings

against witches and witchcraft in Elizabethan times. Convicted witches were

regularly tortured and even executed. Most people believed in witches and there

was little opposition against this persecution. This was not helped by the fact

that the king, James 1 was also interested in this superstition, often, he

interrogated the accused himself. ????????????????????????? It is clear from the start of the play

that the witches play a key role. The first scene is the witches planning to

meet Macbeth. The setting of this scene is very important; they meet on a moor

in thunder and lightning. These surroundings portray an evil image; the moor is

a very lonely, barren and bleak place, while thunder and lightning associate

with evil. So even at the beginning of the play one of the themes is known. ?????????????????? ? The witches? language includes rhyming

couplets that contradict each other and are very powerful. ?????????????????? ? ?Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover

through the fog and filthy air? This quote tells us about the witches? hatred for

all things good, and their love for things that are evil. Shakespeare adds

rhyme and rhythm to the witches? language to emphasise their evilness. The

second part of this quote adds to their image of being witches and would have

created tension among Elizabethan audiences. The image of old women with cats

and the ability to fly would have shocked an audience. ?????????????????? ?? The first meeting between Macbeth and the

witches is significant as they make two predictions to Macbeth, ?Hail to thee

thane of Cawdor? and perhaps more significantly, ?That shalt be king

hereafter.? These proclamations astound Macbeth due to their sudden

nature. The witches lure Macbeth into a false sense of security. The witches manipulate Macbeth and when he tells Lady Macbeth of the

predictions, an evil plan is conceived. ????????????????????? ?I?ve done the deed.? This deed is the worst possible crime, kingship;

Macbeth has murdered king Duncan in cold blood. Macbeth, the brave warrior at

the beginning of the play has been driven by his ambition to be king. However,

the source of this evil deed may not have come from Macbeth himself. ????????????????????? ?Look like the innocent flower, But be the

serpent under?t.? Lady Macbeth plants the seed of murdering king

Duncan in Macbeth?s mind. The language?

Shakespeare uses here is significant, the flower is associated with

beauty and goodness while the snake is associated with evil. The association

with a snake would have been especially strong because in the bible the serpent

is seen as an evil being. These comparisons to bible characters would also have

shocked Elizabethan audiences, as they believed in heaven and hell. ?????????????????????? Perhaps the most famous scene in Macbeth

concerns the witches and especially their language. ?????????????????????? ?Liver of blaspheming Jew, Finger of

birth-strangled babe.? These disgusting images are the ingredients of the

witches? spell. The language used shows the exploitation of innocence and

vulnerability by the witches and this links in with the theme of the desire to

bring all good things to evil. The imagery conjured up in the casts is one of

pure evil. In the same scene the witches manipulate Macbeth by using three

apparitions. The second of these apparitions lulls Macbeth into a false sense

of security. ???? ????????????????????Then live, Macduff: what

need I fear of thee.? The apparition, which is a bloody child, tells

Macbeth of his fortune, ?For none of woman born shall harm Macbeth.?

Shakespeare uses Dramatic Irony as these words confuse Macbeth. It is apparent

from these words that Macbeth would feel invincible and that no man could harm

him. However, Macbeth fails to see the contradiction between this and the first

apparition. This is because Macbeth is unaware of Macduff?s birth; he was born

after his mother had died.?????????????????? ????? It is only at the end of the play that

Macbeth finally discovers his fate. After being told that Macduff had been,

Untimely ripped from his mothers womb,? describes the witches as ?Juggling Fiends.? Macbeth is accusing the witches of

deliberately juggling their words so that he could not understand them. This is

a brilliant quote as Macbeth has just realised his life is in ruins, but the

audience knew this earlier. ??????????????????

The witches have changed Macbeth from a brave warrior to an evil,

murderous, traitor. ??????????????????

By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.? This quote is significant as it illustrates the

change in Macbeth throughout the play, now even the witches consider Macbeth to

be evil. However, when looking at the path of destruction that Macbeth has left

behind him it isn?t very surprising. Just one man driven by his ambition to be

king has led to a chain reaction of murders ??????????????????

Stars, hide your fires! Let not light see my black and desires! From this quote we can see Macbeth?s true feelings

towards king Duncan. It tells us that no one will see the murder due to the

darkness and lack of light. His dark intentions have imagery due the blackness

of the night and evil desires and intentions of Macbeth. ???????????????????

The murder of his once best friend, Banquo leads to Lady Macbeth going

mad. The brains behind the relationship who conceived the plan of murdering

king Duncan which started the chaos of the whole play eventually commits

suicide as she couldn?t handle the guilt. ???????????????????

Here?s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will

not sweeten this little hand.? This is a significant quote as although Lady Macbeth

did not kill king Duncan it was her idea, and it could be argued that Macbeth

wouldn?t have murdered king Duncan without the influence of Lady Macbeth.???????????????????

The fear of the Scottish people is shown in a conversation between

Donalbain and Malcolm. ???????????????????

There?s daggers in men?s smiles.? This metaphor describes how Donalbain feels he can

trust nobody and that everyone is putting on disguises; underneath the smiling

faces is hatred and evil. The imagery conjures up pictures of the innocent and

pleasant man on the outside but on the inside he is a traitor and a murderer.

The quote portrays the scenes of anarchy and chaos in Scotland. ???????????????????

In conclusion I think it is clear the witches mostly portray evil in

Macbeth. Not only are the witches evil themselves but their evilness spreads to

other characters throughout the play. I think there is little doubt that

without the influence of the witches, Macbeth wouldn?t have murdered king



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