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Explore the way Shakespeare portrays evil in Macbeth.

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Explore the way Shakespeare portrays evil in Macbeth Right from the first scene, it is obvious that Macbeth is a story of evil. The play starts on a moor, with thunder and lightning being the very first signal that something less than ordinary is going on. Before the play has even begun, the atmosphere is set for an intimidating and somewhat frightening scene. Stormy weather is nearly always seen as frightening, dark and evil, because it is often related to so much danger and destruction, and Shakespeare uses this well to give and accurate and striking first impression of the play. The first people on stage are three weird sisters, making definite this idea of darkness and supernatural. They meet in a dark cave, which is often representative of the underworld, and they are described as "secret, black and midnight hags". This is extremely good use of language, as four of the five words are all powerful and give a good idea of what is to come. They speak, not particularly powerful words, but in rhyme, which gives a rhythmic effect of ritual, and the sisters words seem to flow on from each other, as if they are not really three, but one. They say a short speech, claiming that they are going to meet again "upon the heath" with Macbeth. ...read more.


She is basically telling him to disguise all his feelings, like she has, so that he can prevent Duncan, the current King of Scotland, from seeing another day - in other words, so that he can kill him. This is the first real part of the play so far which shows blatant, undisguised evil; someone with their mind so set on killing a man that they do not care to hide it, even though Shakespeare subtly uses malicious language to make it clear what is going on to the audience, without actually saying outright that they are planning to kill the king. This makes the play darker, and makes the characters of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth seem cruel, selfish and reckless, and this is before the play has even got going. The first major incident which is undoubtedly evil is the murder of Duncan. To begin with, Macbeth is unsure, and his wife is very disappointed that he told her he would go forth and kill him when he could not bring himself to do it. This shows the difference in character again, the good inside Macbeth telling him what is the right thing to do, and the cold-blooded spite inside his wife. She threatens his manliness and cruelly tells him he is weak and pathetic - very strong words, especially coming from a lady to her husband, as that sort of behaviour was unacceptable in those times. ...read more.


Shakespeare portrays evil in many other ways as well as this, however. There are at least four more murders in the play, although not committed by either Macbeth or Lady Macbeth - instead Macbeth hires three murderers to do the killings for him. This shows cowardice in his character, but also proves that he is not all evil for he cannot bring himself to kill again. However he still wants people dead and that is the important part. Banquo, Macbeth's "friend", is murdered, and after this Macbeth sees his ghost at a banquet, haunting him. This is not necessarily evil, but it is horrifying to the audience as well as Macbeth, for whom it is the start of a long struggle through insanity. Macbeth and his wife do become king and queen, but do not remain on the throne long. They both go mad, and Lady Macbeth ends up committing suicide. This is a sure sign of evil. Shakespeare presents their insanity very powerfully, with hallucinations and acts of madness, such as Lady Macbeth trying to wash "blood" off her hand; blood that isn't there. At the end of the play, Macduff, whose wife and child Macbeth has had killed, finds Macbeth at his castle and they fight. It is now an open fact that Macbeth is evil, and many people, especially Macduff, want him dead. Macduff wins, beheading Macbeth and finally and evil dies. Malcolm, the rightful heir to the throne, becomes king. ...read more.

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